The Insect Tastings at the Montréal Insectarium in summer 2017 were a great hit. Visitors could taste insect-based products — try out entomophagy, in other words — through various activities and at the food truck parked right outside. To find out what it takes to get people to try eating insects, the Insectarium conducted a study in co-operation with nutritionists from the Department of Nutrition at the Université de Montréal.
If I asked you what guides your food choices, what would you say? We asked more than 430 people this question. The most important consideration, for most respondents, was taste. This was followed by nutritional value, impact on the environment, and price.
Have you ever eaten any insects? Have you ever cooked with insects? If not, then you’re like the vast majority of our respondents, who told us that they had never eaten, let alone cooked, any insects.
Ahead of time
And now, tell me what information you would like to have before tasting insects. Would you like to know that they’re perfectly safe to eat? Or how they were prepared and stored? Most of the people surveyed said it was important to be absolutely sure that the insects wouldn’t make them sick.
Intention to try certain insect-based foods
The Insect Tastings food truck menu had a number of items containing tasty arthropods, including cricket burgers and silkworm tacos. Take a look. Would you want to try one? According to our results, visitors were more apt to go for the burger than the tacos. Do you know why? Simply because they couldn’t see any insects in the burger, whereas some were clearly visible in the tacos. Our consumers just weren’t ready to bite into something that obviously contained insects.
This study was a first step toward documenting people’s attitudes toward eating insects. Recent research reveals heightened interest in entomophagy, for social reasons and as part of the food supply. It’s worth monitoring consumers’ attitudes to entomophagy from the viewpoints of sustainable development, public health and human and animal food security.
Thanks to Marie Marquis and the Montréal Insectarium.