If you’ve seen The Lion King, you’ll know that grubs can make for some pretty tasty eating – according to a meerkat and a warthog at least. But over the next few decades, getting our taste buds around creepy-crawlies might actually become the norm.
In fact, in Germany, a type of parasitic worm and its eggs are already being considered for approval as a food ingredient – if it gets the go ahead, it’ll be the first case like it.
So what foods of the future can we look forward to appearing on plates?
You might have tried those novelty boiled sweets with scorpions and long-legged insects frozen inside; a sugary version of the amber-trapped mosquito in Jurassic Park. But bugs are set to start seriously bulking up diets.
High in protein and containing vitamins and minerals, including B12, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, they’re also an incredibly sustainable food source. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, producing 1kg of insect protein takes 1,500 times less water and 10 times less feed compared to cattle breeding, and 100 times less greenhouse gases are emitted to boot.
The main obstacle is consumer fear and distaste. Even Angelina Jolie being filmed eating a spider isn’t enough to convince most people to snack on grubs. Although companies like ENORM are roasting mealworms with chilli and sour cream and onion, to be eaten from the jar like salted peanuts, others, including EXO, have paved the way for cricket-based crackers, flours and pastas.
2. Crispy jellyfish
Jellyfish are already widely eaten in Asia, but Danish scientists have recently come up with a new way of preparing them that might just catch on in the West too. It involves steeping jellyfish in ethanol for a month, which turns them thin, papery and crunchy, like crisps. The researchers suggest that increasing the numbers of jellyfish we eat would help tackle influxes of the stingers in certain areas, and help with food shortages.
3. Meat free meat
Instead of burgers, by around 2021, supermarket shelves are predicted to be stocking ‘clean’ meat, also known as ‘cultured’ meat. Scientists have been able to multiply live animal cells in a lab and turn them into muscle. That muscle is the same as the animal products we’re currently used to, from chicken fillets to burgers. And it’s not a vegetarian substitute, it’s real meat – it just hasn’t relied on a live animal being fed, watered and then slaughtered, to reach the plate. The main problem is cost; it is still cheaper to rear animals than grow meat in labs, but that will change as the technology develops.
4. 3D printed food
Experts are predicting that the 3D printing of food could become widespread in coming years – especially as scientists have shown it makes kids more likely to eat their veggies. A study published in the Journal of Food Engineering found that children were more inclined to eat foods they’d traditionally avoid (like cauliflower and mushrooms), if they were turned into a snack and printed in 3D in an exciting shape, like an octopus. We’re guessing adults would fall for that trick too…
We could end up eating fruit straight from the printer (Thinkstock/PA)
5. Dairy alternatives – fizzy milk and crunchy cheese
At Danish-based dairy company Arla, scientists have been experimenting with ways to make dairy more interesting (partly due to the rise of veganism and clean eating, the popularity of dairy has been waning). They’ve been working on pink fizzy milk, yoghurt jerky and crunchy cheese, they told The Guardian – Willy Wonka would be proud. However, the microbiology still isn’t exact yet, so it’ll be a while before you’re pouring the pink stuff on your cereal.