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The Ants Came Marching One by One

by SheRockScience 4 days ago in healthy

The sustainable solution.

Chocolate cake, with crikets and ants (cc Shira D Gordon)

“Just pick a cake” Anita said to herself in her head, again.

She hated this challenge as everyone has different tastes, interests, and desires. Rarely it worked out that people really didn’t care. But Anita loved creating and was up for the task.

Today she was creating a cake for a Sustainability Gala. Everyone who was anyone was going to be there. Her reputation was going to be put to the test. The Delicious Sustainable Dish’s reputation would be put to the test. This was a make-or-break moment.

The Delicious Sustainable Dish was just starting its third year since she started the business. Word of mouth is what got Anita the gig and she wanted to ensure word of mouth did not stop after this party! Anita has a flood of people who appreciate her unique style… but it takes an open person to try this food.

The rest of the meal was going to be sourced by a multiple local caterers. The Gala wanted to support local companies. The salads were going to be supplied by a farmer’s market association. The appetizers were going to be made by the Women’s Shelter Program, which employed women who were homeless or trying to better their lives to make meals for shelters and schools around town. The program was really phenomenal as it gave skills and experience to people while feeding the community with high quality foods. The main dishes were from a caterer that used lab cultured meat. A really good option for sustainable meat (see links below for more information). The Delicious Sustainable Dish was in charge of dessert.

Anita didn’t really mind as the dinner would be serving 800 people which was larger than she was used to catering for a full meal. Even making cake for that many people was more than she was used to.

What made The Delicious Sustainable Dish SO sustainable?

Well, one of the main ingredients was insects. Farming insects as food is so good for the Earth and really healthy for people (for more information about insects as food see the links below). Insects, unlike chickens or cows, take up less land and water. Gram for gram of food, cows require 8-14 times more land mass, 5 times more water, and emit 6-13 times more greenhouse gasses than insects. There is less waste in eating insects as the whole animal can be eaten—no extra bones to pick around. Plus unlike farm animals insects also provide fiber. Insects qualify as a prebiotic—food for the probiotics that are good for people’s digestion.

After the 2013 U.N. report that suggested eating insects may be a way to help meet the almost doubled food demand predicted by the year 2050, Anita decided she wanted to be a positive influence for the world. She started playing around with different insect recipes. Insects are similar to the popular food dishes like crabs and shrimp, as they are closely related arthropods.

Across the world over 2 billion people in over 130 countries regularly eat insects. Insects are a great source of protein. Often insects are served whole, like Chapulines (grasshoppers) from Mexico, Beondegi (silkworm pupae) from South Korea, or Honeypot ants from Australia. However, more and more companies are selling insects that have been grinded into a powder and used in power bars and protein shakes.

Anita used a combination of whole insects and insect powder in her cooking. For baked goods, she often used powders, substituting 1/4th of the flour for insect powder—equaling 7 grams of protein. This also made her food so much healthier. She would use the powder mixed with flour and make a delicious batter to coat zucchini and other fried foods. Sometimes Anita used whole insects as well for the main dishes, but she found people were more buying those products as a shock factor rather than to eat. One of her most popular dishes was a burger made from finely chopped mushrooms, egg, and insect protein. She substituted this for a beef patty and found per patrons really enjoyed the flavors.

For the cake, Anita decided chocolate was a party favorite. She of course was going to use the insect powder in the mix. But she wanted insects to shine. So she decided to top the cake with black ants. She often used black ants as a way to add a little extra citrus flavor. The formic acid found in their stingers gave a lovely zing to food and tasted similar to lemon, which is also an acid. She loved to make an appetizer and sprinkle it with a few ants for the extra wow factor. There was a delicate balance between too many ants that scared people and too few that people could avoid them. Plus, they really did add a lovely flavor to the food.

Anita had made this cake before and perfected the recipe. For the Gala she was going to make 800 individual mini cakes, one for each person. Luckily the cakes kept well in the fridge. This way she could sprinkle the ants on each cake and have a few loose in the box so people could really get a chance to taste their flavor. Of course, anyone who tried to pick off the ants could—but they would still be eating insects as that was part of the flour base in the cake.

Everything went smoothly in making the cakes. At the end of the night, she walked around as people ate the cakes. She liked to hear what people thought. She also passed out a little information insert at the top of the cake boxes to help educate people. She listened to the chatter as people ate. Many had never heard of the idea of eating insects before. Of course some people were totally grossed out. But they too eventually tried it and were won over with the rich chocolate flavor. When people were leaving many took her educational insert, which also had the added bonus of how to find The Delicious Sustainable Dish to order more foods. Most boxes barely had crumbs leftover or people just took the whole box to go to “not waste a bite” as she heard one person say.

Anita beamed with pride. She also realized she may need to expand her shop as it was going to get busier.

More Information about Insects as Food and Places to Purchase

Here’s why insect protein could be the next whey powder: https://massivesci.com/articles/eating-bugs-insect-protein-entomophagy-food-agriculture/

Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security: http://www.fao.org/3/i3253e/i3253e.pdf

Bugible: A Mission to Open Minds & Mouths: https://bugible.com/







More Information about Lab Grown Meat:

Lab-grown meat: The future of food? https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-40496863

Singapore approves lab-grown 'chicken' meat: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55155741

What is lab-grown meat? https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/thenow/what-is-labgrown-meat/1/

Lab-Grown Meat: What Is Cultured Meat and How Is It Made? https://sentientmedia.org/lab-grown-meat/

Read next: Easy, Cheating Prawn and Cream Cheese Risotto

I'm a freelance science communicator.

I write, illustrate, do graphic design, & produce videos.

I make science more accessible to everyone, after years of conducting my own PhD research.

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