Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Forget the guilt trip: There’s a better way to get people to eat more bugs

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Guess I’ll eat some worms —

Study: Appealing to pleasure made people more likely to eat mealworm truffles

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We double dog dare you to eat those bugs.

John Tlumacki, Boston Globe/Getty Images

A few years ago, French chef David Faure traveled to Asia. The many different bugs routinely offered for consumption in that part of the world inspired him to create an insect-based tasting menu at Aphrodite, his Michelin-starred restaurant in Nice. Adventurous diners could sample “crickets in a whiskey bubble with cubes of French toast and pears,” or “squares of peas, carrot foam, and mealworms.”

According to a new study by Swiss scientists, Faure’s marketing strategy to make bugs more palatable to Western diners was a good one: present insects as an exotic delicacy or a luxurious indulgence, rather than a healthy protein source that is more environmentally responsible than consuming meat. These findings have been published in Frontiers in Nutrition.

This is part of a broader push toward accepting insects as an alternative protein source in Western diets, since food production accounts for as much as 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions—with much of that due to livestock. Farming insects could reduce those emissions significantly. But how to overcome the strong revulsion most Westerners feel upon encountering insects in their food?

Ars’ own John Timmer recently sampled a host of insect-based dishes created by chef Joseph Yoon, featured in the Smithsonian Channel’s new show, Bug Bites. And it turns out that in the hands of skilled cooks like Yoon or Faure, bugs can be quite palatable. Whether that’s sufficient to overcome widespread Western aversion to the creepy crawlies is another matter.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Just eat it

Hexbyte - Tech News - Ars Technica | One of the signature dishes on chef David Faure's insect tasting menu at the now-closed Aphrodite in Nice.
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One of the signature dishes on chef David Faure’s insect tasting menu at the now-closed Aphrodite in Nice.

atrick Aventurier/Getty Images

That’s what Sebastian Berger and his colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland set out to examine. First, they randomly recruited 180 participants in one of Cologne, Germany’s most highly trafficked town squares, inviting them to participate in a consumer study focusing on “new products.” The volunteers had no idea they were offering to eat insects, which must have come as a bit of a shock. There was good reason for this: the researchers wanted to weed out a self-selection effect among those who were super-keen to eat bugs, or those especially grossed-out by the prospect. (Th

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