TEDx: from maggots in cheese to a food revolution

The video of a recent TEDx talk by BUGSfeed participants Roberto Flore and Afton Halloran at LUISS university in Rome has just been published. Here's a quick summary.

Starting off by recalling how the arrival of casu marzu after a lunch in the Sardinian mountains divided the population between those appreciating the delicacy and those running off in disgust when confronted "with eating something that was alive", Roberto said. "I decided to stay and eat the cheese. For me, it was really delicious. In that moment, we never thought that this cheese, in a few years, was going to become part of a large food revolution."

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Photo: still from TEDx Talks video

Roberto also focused on the complex issue of mass production: "Sustainability should include more arguments than just pure consumption of protein [...] unless we think a lollipop with a cricket inside will be a problem solver for malnutrition or food insecurity."

"Do you or me or anyone else in this room really need more protein in our diets?" asked Afton Holleran. "Here in Europe, the amount of protein we consume is enough by far." She stressed the need to find "more sustainable means of producing high-quality animal product." 

"When I first went to Thailand in 2014, my original goal was to measure the environmental impact of cricket-farming systems. But it quickly became apparent to me that the reason why farmers became so interested in these small-scale production systems was not because this was some kind of problem solver or some kind of low-impact source of protein."

It's not about the protein, it's about sustainability

"By starting up a small cricket farm," Afton discovered, "men who were working in dangerous construction industries abroad were able to return to their villages, return to their familes, and have safe, comfortable employment. Families were able to send their children to university with the money they had saved from the sales of their crickets."

"The intention was to create a system which could help people diversify their rural incomes, coupled with further promoting the consumption of insects in a context where this was already pre-existing and appreciated," she added.

The key to reflect on our capacity to embrace food diversity

Referring to his travels around the world as documented in BUGS the film, Roberto said: "There is one reason that always emerges as fundamental: insects are eaten because they taste good [when] collected fresh from the wild, as a seasonal delicacy."

"Insects have to be the key to reflect on our capacity to embrace food diversity and knowledge that come from a different country."

Here's their talk in full:

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