The Diary: Grubs up! It’s time to tuck into bugs

Sam Blakemore and Nikki Whiting with some of the edible insects they have been trying out
Sam Blakemore and Nikki Whiting with some of the edible insects they have been trying out
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So, this is what Sam Blakemore wrote in her dissertation: that the supply of global human food isn’t sustainable and that one day mankind must learn to love munching on insects. It got a first.

Since then, as a member of Science Brainwaves – a group of Sheffield University boffins aiming to take science to the masses – she’s been promoting her theory to anyone who’ll listen.

There’s just one problem: when The Diary meets for a meal of ready cooked mealworms, grasshoppers, weaver ants, beetles and, for dessert, a cricket lollipop she’s less than keen to tuck in.

“Some are pretty disgusting,” admits the 22-year-old zoology masters student.

We eat. She’s right. They are.

But Sam and her Brainwaves colleagues – Nikki Whiting (specialism: molecular biology) and Steph Kerr (environmental engineering) – are hoping a minor detail like that won’t put you lot off.

On Friday they’re hosting an evening which begins with a talk about why grubs make good grub and ends with attendees being invited to eat the creepy-crawlies.

“In a way,” says Sam, tongue (as well as beetle) only slightly in cheek, “this might be one step towards solving world hunger.

“Insects are high in protein and, as food sources go, hugely sustainable. The UN says if more Westerners ate them, it could help combat global hunger in the future.”

Today’s offerings include dried bugs bought from a supplier in Torquay (“probably healthier than crisps,” notes Steph, 25).

And while taste-wise they don’t match up to, for example, a burger at The Harley, the trio reckon if they were cooked right and Westerners were less squeamish, they’d make a decent dinner.

“If you imagine an insect burger flavoured with herbs and spices,” says Nikki, 24. “Then suddenly, the whole idea becomes more palatable.

It’s just a case of getting out of that bush tucker trial mindset.”

She looks at one in her fingers. It looks back at her. “I’m quite full at the moment, though,” she adds.

The talk will be led by food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye before volunteers are blindfolded to see if they can guess what they’re eating. Then attendees will be invited to eat up.

“We imagine it will appeal to children,” says Steph. “But we hope some brave dads will take part.”

Tasting is at Sheffield Uni Students Union in Western Bank at 6.30pm. £5.