Meet the chef who wanted to change our diets one insect at a time

(CNN) – Tried meat-free Mondays? What about Blackfly Friday or Scorpion Sunday?

New York City chef Joseph Yoon started cooking insects four years ago for an art project. Now, he wants to change our perception of scary turtles so we can have a “delicious”, “nutritious” and “sustainable” insect diet.

“I absolutely love insects,” said Yoon, chief executive officer of Brooklyn Bugs, an organization that promotes edible insects. “The fact that they are so diverse, the fact that there are so many species of insects, the fact that we depend so much on insects for our own ecosystems and biodiversity is absolutely fascinating. “

There are more 2,100 types of edible insects around the world, and they come in a variety of flavors, such as nut, citrus, cheese and coconut, Yoon said. “What I’m trying to do is give people a great variety of flavors and textures and ideas for how to cook with edible insects.”

The environmental costs associated with the consumption of livestock mean there is a need to find sustainable and protein-rich alternatives. Chef Joseph Yoon suggests that edible insects can be a delicious and nutritious addition to our diets.

A sustainable source of protein

Insects are regularly consumed by about 2 billion people, according to one Report 2013 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). However, the report says that feelings of disgust are associated with eating insects in most Western countries.

Feeding the world is an increasingly daunting challenge. Land is scarce and oceans are overfished, but current food production would need to nearly double to feed the 9 billion people expected to live, according to the FAO report. on Earth by 2050, according to the FAO report.

And food production is taking its toll on the environment. Recent studies show that the livestock industry generates between 14 and 17% anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and half the feed needed for pigs and broilers to produce the same amount of protein, according to FAO. A high-protein insect diet could provide a sustainable solution if Western attitudes towards them can change from “ew” to “yum”.

To help reduce the environmental impact of our food habits, Yoon wants to “normalize edible insects around the world, especially right where I live in America.”

Cricket, mac and cheese

But even for those willing to try, it’s not always clear how best to incorporate insects into their diet.

“When people ask me how to incorporate crickets or insects into my food, one of my favorite ways to do it is using my favorite dishes,” says Yoon. “You don’t have to think about making a new dish with a new ingredient but if you love making fried rice like I do, I love making fried rice with crickets. I love adding crickets to my mac and cheese. maybe add cricket powder with cheese sauce.”

Joseph Yoon's cicada stir-fry.

Joseph Yoon’s cicada stir-fry.

Brooklyn Bugs

He followed in the footsteps of other insect innovators trying to change Western attitudes.

Among the first to apply, in 2012, American businessman Patrick Crowley introduced a insect protein products to the United States, the Chapul Cricket energy bar, enhanced with cricket powder. An edible insect farm, Next Millennium Farms, opened in Canada in 2014.
In 2019, about 9 million people in Europe consumed insects and products derived from them, according to the International Platform on Insects for Food and Feed. Predict that number will be 390 million consumers by 2030.

“When you think about insects – most likely one of the smallest creatures we can think of… can a bug make a difference? Can humans make a difference? ?” Yoon said. “One of the really important factors driving my work is that, yes, each of us has a responsibility. Incorporating edible insects into your diet once a week can be a big deal. makes a big difference.”


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