Grasshopper for dinner, darling?

Product Design student Courtney Yule with her 'Insect machine'
Product Design student Courtney Yule with her 'Insect machine'

An innovative cookery kit has been created by a Horncliffe student to encourage people to eat insects as part of their daily diet.

Creepy-crawlies like beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers are a staple in many parts of the world.

But despite them being low in fat and calories and containing as much protein as beef, many in the western world are repulsed by the idea of swallowing insects.

Now a student won over by arguments that insects are the food of the future has designed her own ‘starter kit’ for turning them into a tasty meal.

Courtney Yule, who is in the final year of a product design course at Edinburgh Napier University, was inspired by studies identifying entomophagy - the practice of eating insects - as the best way to feed the growing global population.

Harvesting insects is also seen as more environmentally-friendly than traditional livestock farming which requires land, crops for feed, and animals and machinery which produce greenhouse gases.

Courtney’s “Entopod”, which mimics the shape of an insect, promotes the idea of insects as a sustainable food source while also trying to dispel the ‘yuck factor’ which inhibits people from tasting them.

The device, to be showcased at Edinburgh Napier’s Degree Show from May 22-31, is designed to encourage experimentation by providing everything needed to create a range of insect-based recipes in one portable product.

Courtney, 22, said: “The main barrier is obviously getting consumers to accept the idea of eating insects. Before I began this work I didn’t even like to touch them, but I don’t have any problem with eating them now and it is a practice which is growing in popularity every day.

“People think nothing about eating prawns and shrimps but they have a different reaction to grasshoppers and crickets. However, the more you read about the health benefits, the less bothered you become. You can do anything with insects; sweet and sour grasshopper, mealworm macaroni, lime and ginger locusts or cricket cookies.”

Courtney carried out research which found most people would consider eating insects. However, many did find the look off-putting, even those who enjoyed lobster or prawns. The taste and texture of the initial bite often came as a pleasant surprise, and she decided there would be interest in a ‘starter kit’ which allowed people to experiment.

The Entopod includes a grinder to create insect flour to bake into recipes or add to shakes, and detachable containers to heat food in the oven, microwave or on the hob. Insect fondue is also a possibility with the addition of a candle underneath the leg stand, and the reverse ends of the eating utensils used as skewers. Insect snacks can also be stored in the detachable containers, perfect for a lunch on the go.

Courtney added: “A lot of people are now supplying dried insects but in the course of my research I have not seen any other products which help in preparing them to eat.

“I am now at the stage of tweaking design components, and although the prototype is white I am also working on bright neon and anodised colours resembling the natural colouring of insects.”

She also plans to take it to the New Designers show in London in July.