Novel foods and sustainable consumption

The Department of Geography in collaboration with the Brighton and Sussex Universities Food Network (BSUFN) and the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) are organising a weekly seminar series on “Food, Climate and Society”. This series will explore the multiple challenges that the global food system is facing: feeding more people healthy food while limiting environmental and social impacts.

This week’s seminar will be given by Dominic Glover, Institute for Development Studies. The seminar will be held on Thursday the 10th of March from 12:30 to 14:00 in Arts C, Global Studies Resource Centre, University of Sussex.

Some experts and entrepreneurs think that edible insects could form a significant part of the human diet in the future.  Freeze-dried insects might be cooked and eaten whole or ground up into insect ‘meal’ or ‘flour’ and incorporated, invisibly, into breads, cakes, pies, croquettes and other prepared foods.  This could be a healthy and more sustainable source of protein than conventional meat, which has a big physical and environmental footprint.  Rearing livestock for food takes allocations of land and water for feed production that might be dedicated to food crops instead.  Not only that, but cows also produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, which fuels climate change.  But, meanwhile, meat remains a highly desired status food; as people get richer, they often tend to consume more meat.  Insect-based animal and fish feeds are already on the market, which might reduce the environmental footprint of conventional meat.  But will consumers choose to eat insect-based foods instead?  The answer probably depends not only on ethical and environmental considerations but also basic issues such as cost, flavour and texture.  Also, edible insects are not the only protein alternative under development, so future insect-based foods might have to compete in the market place with other protein alternatives based on algae or fungi, or even synthetic meat.  This lecture will introduce some major issues and discuss a recent foresight project that considered the future of edible insects in the global food system.

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