9 - Edible Insects in Western Culture

By: Alexandra Kazaks   Whitney Donald   Kaleb Lund   Diane Helsel   Nancy Perlot  

While viewing our food supply through an environmentally sustainable lens, it is beneficial to focus on edible insects that are efficient, prolific, resistant to drought, and produce lower levels of greenhouse gases than animals. Mealworms, in particular, have potential nutritional, environmental sustainability benefits. Insect consumption is uncommon in Western cultures as most people are repelled at the thought of eating insects. Incorporating insects in familiar foods is a stepping-stone for overcoming this food neophobia. We determine whether processed mealworms are acceptable alternative protein source for consumers with an active lifestyle we evaluated relationships between acceptance of mealworms as a protein source and physical activity level, food-related attitudes, previous experience with edible insects and socio-demographic characteristics. We also assessed nutrition professional’s knowledge, experience and recommendations regarding edible insects. A RedCap questionnaire administered via social media gathered information from adults throughout US. Another questionnaire emailed to 4773 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) elicited opinions and recommendations. Data was analyzed using SPSS. Results/Conclusion: Of 127 responses, 37% who previously consumed insects showed higher willingness to buy (WTB) mealworm products (t=5.088(125), p<0.0001). Participation in a range of physical activities was associated with high levels of WTB. Most appealing forms of mealworm protein were protein bars and restaurant dishes. Of 316 RDNs, 18% had previously consumed insects, 10% were familiar with nutrition content of commonly eaten insects, 61% would recommend insects. Study results may aid in development of products that meet consumer demand and promote increased interest in sustainable protein sources.

Edible Insects, Mealworms
Food Production and Sustainability
Poster/Exhibit Session

Dr Alexandra Kazaks

-, -, Bastyr University

Research experience focuses on the role of food and nutrition in prevention and management of chronic disease. Study of phytochemicals as therapeutic interventions is aimed at improving endothelial dysfunction, inflammation and oxidative stress related to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrom and diabetes.

Whitney Donald

Student, Bastyr University, United States
WA, United States

Kaleb Lund

-, -, Bastyr University, United States
Washington, United States

Diane Helsel

Associate Professor, Bastyr University, United States
United States

Nancy Perlot

Assistant Professor, Bastyr University, United States
United States