By Luca Ceroni
There’s still a lot of uncertainty over the real and effective introduction of insects on our tables
Early last year, as soon as you turned on the TV or simply connected to some social network, you could read many articles regarding insects reaching our tables and diets. However, one year later, we can say that this has not happened. So, the real question is: why? Were these fake news or there were some problems?
The answer is to be found in politics. More precisely, in what last year newcasts referred to, namely the European regulation 2015/2283, which provides all EU member states for the possibility of requesting an authorization to allow the marketing of insect-made food stuff. Hence, this didn’t entail any effective distribution, and that’s why we still cannot buy these products in the supermarket up the street.
Therefore, until the European Union doesn’t issue such a permission, it won’t be possible to eat insects in restaurants or buy them in the hypermarkets, in Italy and in all the other European countries.
In the last few years, the dilemma on whether to introduce insects in our market has given rise to many debates concerning this supposed opportunity. While many people hold the belief that in a place strongly addicted to food culture like Italy there will never be room for insects, it is likewise true, on the other hand, that this type of food would bring a number of practical advantages.
First of all, in light of the forthcoming demographic crisis, insects apparently seem to be one of the most sustainable provision solutions to feed all humanity. Indeed, just to make an example, the total amount of water required to breed a cow is roughly around 15.400 liters, whereas only one liter is necessary to produce one kilo of crickets. As a result, the environmental impact of food production would be minimized. Secondly, they represent the most powerful source of protein among all the existing foods and this would also partially contribute to solve another important aspect of human nutrition.
What about people’s reaction?
According to the findings of a survey conducted by a Milan-based agency, almost half of Italians would be willing to taste at least once insect foods. Instead, around one third of the sample is even said to be ready to eat quite frequently these types of products. Obviously, the most “enthusiastic” reactions came from the youngest and travelers.
Although insects are not yet available in our market, there are a lot of recipes and show-cooking tutorials on the web, where lovers of this alternative cuisine can already find countless ready-to-prepare dishes. Among the others, some instance of the most surrounding recipes could be either fried grasshoppers or toasted ants served with roasted potatoes.
However, there is nothing to prevent people from creating new dishes by combining old-school kitchen based on traditional and local ingredients with these new curious, protein additions. In fact, a growing number of online blogs show typical Italian cooking courses with a range of insect meats, as witnessed by a type of Spaghetti Carbonara prepared with locusts instead of the usual pork jowl.
Will insects ever be on our tables?
Despite all discussions relating to the food of the future, there’s still a lot of uncertainty over the real and effective introduction of insects on our tables. At the moment, the European institutions are analyzing and evaluating the legalization of such foods. Indeed, these are thorny problems that need times which are unlikely predictable.
Timing is one of the major constraints, even because there would already be several Italian companies prone to do business in this segment, but they are not allowed to do so until when the authorization will be officially recognized by the European and national institutions. However, many experts hold that insects in all likelihood will be on supermarket shelves in one or two years.