07 caterpillar and insect wings .JPG IS THIS THE FOOD OF THE FUTURE? Oh, and by the way, they’re made from ground-up insects¿ Academics at London South Bank University, Susana Soares, Andrew Forkes and Dr Ken Spears, have developed what they believe could be the future of food. Their Insects au Gratin project features striking designs manufactured using 3D printing technology and a paste made from finely ground insects. After all, just four crunchy crickets provide as much calcium as a large glass of milk, while a delicious dung beetle contains more iron proportionately than a steak. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has claimed that trends towards 2050 predict a steady population increase to 9 billion people forcing an increased food output from available agro-ecosystems resulting in an even greater pressure on the environment. Susana says: “Insects Au Gratin looks at the future of food and explores the nutritive and environmental aspects of entomophagy (eating insects) combined with 3D food printing technologies. As the world’s population grows, eating insects will become a viable solution to some of our future food problems. Insects are highly efficient at converting vegetation into edible protein, full of vitamins and minerals.” The foods are made by drying and then grinding insects into a fine powder. The resulting ‘flour’ is then mixed with other food products such as icing butter, chocolate, spices, and cream cheese, to form the right consistency. “Insects are already eaten by people in many countries around the world,” says Andrew, “but in the UK, as with much of the West, there are many issues around their acceptance as a food source. 3D printing technology may enable us to overcome the traditional aesthetic issues of eating insects and challenge people’s perceptions. The use of insect protein as a ‘printable’ material opens up a range of new applications and questions about sustainability, raw materials, nutrition, and food acceptance.” Tuck in!