In search of the holy edible insect grail: The Bacon Fly!

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In my book “Äta insekter – entomaten och det stora proteinskiftet” (published in Swedish) I have a chapter about how insects will become considered proper food in Sweden. In this chapter I also share ten “visions” for the future. Ten things that if they happen they will truly have an impact on how we look at insects as food in countries where it is not part of the culinary tradition. Here is an excerpt from the book (translated to English):

Vision 10: Say hello to the Bacon Fly!

Prediction: Year 2030:
When everybody else in the business had kept going year after year breeding the same insect species the entopreneur Adriana Bux introduces a food insect that nobody thought was possible to breed. A fly, whose yummy larvae, given the right feed actually tastes just like smoked bacon…

Background:
The insects we grow as food in Europe today all have one thing in common: they have previously been grown as feed for pets! Of 2 111 documented edible insect species, there may be significantly more interesting candidates. Insects that can be grown in a good way could, with the right feed, provide us with unprecedented culinary opportunities.

Everybody who would eat a nutrient rich, healthy grub that tasted like smoked bacon raise a hand!
I would for sure (I really miss eating bacon).

I came to think about this vision while reading Matt Simons article in Wired “Save the lemurs! Eat the crickets!“. A story about how scientists are trying to make people in Madagascar rediscover eating insects instead of killing and eating endangered lemurs.  The tradition is there, but it has been partly lost (especially in the cities) and the project goal is making people breed their own insects and provide themselves with a more sustainable protein source.
What I think is most interesting in the article is that they are trying to breed local insects and how they taste.
They started out with investigating local cricket species. The species the researchers landed on is called Gryllus madagascariensis. With help from local kids they managed to collect 50 individuals in the wild, breed them and now they have around 350 000 new crickets each day! From the crickets they mainly make powder.
So what about the taste?
“The funny thing is that the cricket we have chosen, fried it tastes like a regular cricket, nothing special,” Sylvain Hugel, an entomologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, says to the Wired reporter. “But the powder tastes like chocolate. It’s very shocking when you just smell it.”
Wow! Chocolate. But what makes this article even more intriguing is a claim from  Brian Fisher, an entomologist with the California Academy of Sciences, who helped start the program, that there is a Malagasy insect known as sakondry (or sakandry) that fried actually tastes of bacon!

Looking after more info on this insect it seems that it is part of the Fulgoridae (Planthoppers) family and called Zanna madagascariensis. A really cute looking bug also know as the “Malagasy lantern bug” or sakondry. It feeds on lima-bean and if you grow lima you automatically get a lot of sakondry and a good bacon-tasting protein source.
I found one other source on the web repeating that sakondry tastes like bacon (se tweet from antropologist Cortni Borgerson below).
Reading about this, I don’t think my vision about the bacon fly is that far fetched :)

What do you think?

Check out the crickets and the sakondry in this Youtube film presenting the project:

 


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Äta insekter: Entomaten och det stora proteinskiftet. Den går att köpa i vanliga bokhandlar, hos förlaget, på Adlibris och Bokus. Läs mer om boken och köpställen här!

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