Canadian journalists were so eager to attend the University of British Columbia’s Bug Bake Off on Tuesday to get a taste of edible insect creations that the event was booked to capacity the night before.
Students from the university’s land and food systems faculty took part in a judged culinary competition on Nov. 28 to “showcase insect-laden dishes that are delicious, nutritious and environmentally friendly.”
According to the UBC website, judges include the university’s executive chef David Speight and the competition took place at Vij’s Kitchen on the East Mall side of campus.
Former CBC producer and UBC media relations specialist Sachintha Wickramasinghe told True North on Monday that the event was at capacity.
“There’s been significant interest since this morning and we are already at capacity for media,” said Wicramansinghe.
Media attending the event will have an opportunity to try the insect-laden dishes and conduct interviews with the student chefs.
The competition is a part of the university’s applied biology course “Insects as Food and Feed.”
“One of my goals is to reduce the negative perceptions people may have of eating bugs,” said the course’s instructor, entomologist Yasmin Akhtar.
“In addition to being really tasty, there are two main benefits of eating insects.”
According to Akhtar, the main benefits are that insects are “incredibly nutritious” and are beneficial to the environment.
“They produce much lower greenhouse gas emissions than cattle or pigs, for example. It also encourages the sustainable use of diverse insect species, rather than relying on a small number of traditional livestock species to meet the world’s needs,” said Akhtar.
Akhtar suggests that those interested in adopting insects into their diet should consider purchasing insect flour and powder online.
“You can purchase insect flour online and simply replace wheat flour in any recipe with the insect flour for tasty, high-protein baked products like muffins or as filling in samosas,” said Akhtar.
“Barbecuing insects is another great option: they absorb flavour really well, and dry out to become very crunchy. Barbecued crickets are my favourite. I also really like chocolate-covered ants, and adding insect powder to green tea.”
There has been growing interest by governments and the private sector to warm consumers up to the idea of edible insects. The Liberal government has lavished edible insect cricket farming companies with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of subsidies.
International organizations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have argued that insect-based “meat” could be a viable alternative to slow down the consumption of traditional animal-derived proteins which are considered to produce a high amount of carbon emissions.