European Food Summit - Grasshoppers and crickets – food of the future?

Grasshoppers and crickets – food of the future?

Ljubljana, Slovenia, 17. 10. 2022

In recent years, the negative effects of food on our environment have been brought to the spotlight. Mainly due to its production, processing and packaging. More than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world result from this. It's time to start thinking about solutions, about alternatives. If we, as a society, want to change the trend of the increasing burden on the environment, we must change our eating habits. The food of the future is the food that has a positive effect on both humans and the environment.

Let's eat less meat

The food of the future is the food that is processed and handled responsibly. This means that only as much food as we consume needs to be produced and more focus needs to be put on locally grown food and menus, where seasonal and plant-based foods reign supreme. Since there is only one planet, we must join forces and create conditions in which food can be distributed to everyone in a fair way.

One of the groundbreaking decisions that individuals can make is to include less meat on their menu. Cattle farming accounts for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Insects can be the solution. Their breeding requires only a small fraction of land, water and feed compared to traditional animal husbandry. The European Food Safety Agency has already approved grasshoppers, mealworms and crickets for use in food.

One of the leading researchers in the field of sustainable food systems is among the curators of the 2022 European Food Summit

The curator and member of the supervisory board of this year's European Food Summit is Dr. Afton Halloran, who was among the speakers at the 2019 European Food Summit. She is a Danish scientist with a doctorate in international and pediatric nutrition specializing in sustainable food systems. For years, she has been advising intergovernmental and international organizations, companies, research institutions, and civil society on issues related to sustainable food systems for years as an independent consultant. She mainly deals with the future of food, the social impacts of food production, food culture, and dietary habits.

We would like to know why you have chosen sustainable food systems for the topic you devoted your career to. Why are issues, such as the future of food, the social impacts of food production, food culture/gastronomy, and dietary shifts, related to sustainable food systems?

"For me, working with food systems is the single most important area to positively impact the environment and human health. It is hard to address social, environmental, political, health and economic issues without considering food. Food systems provide a lens that can help us view and understand the world."

Humans have an aversion to insects, experts say that this is because we often perceive them as dirty and disgusting. But it is in human nature to defend against change because we do not know enough about alternatives because they are foreign to us and because we are not used to them.

Why insects? Do you believe that insects can replace meat on a mass scale, and do you think people will accept them as an alternative? How can we pursue more people, how can we motivate them to make this change? What do you think is the main reason for not including insects in our daily menus? Could it be the fact that we simply don't know enough about it?

"New foods are entering European diets all the time. In fact, European food culture has historically been influenced by numerous internal and external forces. Just think of tomato and how long it took (centuries!) it to become accepted in popular Italian cuisine. It takes time for our habits and culture to include new ingredients. We need to develop new recipes, attitudes and rituals around these foods. We also need to understand that our food preferences are shaped by accessibility, availability, and affordability. But the fact that we need to decrease the environmental impact of our diets increases the urgency -- we can't wait centuries!"

If we want to preserve our environment and live in harmony with nature, we will also need to change our eating habits. This means that we will also need to give a chance to plant-based and insect-based food. This is the food of the future.