The aesthetics of insects: Staring down my disgust
As a writer and researcher who focuses on food and sustainability, I appreciate the benefits of accepting insects as a standard part of the western diet. In one sense, they represent a neat solution to several of the big problems in the food system. They are, after all, nutrient-filled whole foods that can be grown using comparatively little land and water, fed by food waste alone. But still I have a problem. I am born of a food culture that has actively eschewed insects for thousands of years. When I look at a dish garnished with mealworms, ants or crickets, I simply can’t escape my disgust. Not because these insects can’t be delicious - their long history as a part of a wide range of cuisines across the world shows how appetising they can be - but because I bring with me the Western cultural revulsion to eating insects. Given the huge number of benefits edible insects may provide us, it’s worth examining the history of this abhorrence and how this might change in the future. Based on research and interviews with insect producers conducted for a recent article, as well as additional qualitative interviews with eaters, this six minute PechaKucha presentation examines the disgust many people feel when presented with a bowlful insects, as well as looking at ways that might change in the future.
Jen Richards is a freelance writer and researcher in the space where gastronomy meets sustainability, as well as a copywriter for sustainable food businesses. She has a Masters in Sustainability from Sydney University.
We're asking: How do we make aesthetic judgements about food that disgusts?
Can there be pleasure and enjoyment in knowing our food sources intimately?
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