Mindfulness or becoming more aware of what we consume, says Leah Bessa, is one of the number one reasons that people will become more and more drawn to eco-friendly alternatives in their diets. Specifically, insects, a regular dietary addition in many parts of the world, will make their way into our homes and onto our plates.
“There are so many benefits associated with using insects as a food source, and the one major challenge is getting consumers in the Western world used to the idea of eating them,” explains Bessa, a food science graduate and one of the three people behind Gourmet Grubb. “Now that consumers are becoming more open to new and different food ingredients, it has become the right time to introduce insects.”
Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is well documented in parts of Asia, Africa, Mexico and South America as cheap and sustainable sources of protein. While it’s more common in Africa than anywhere else in the world, there’s not very many gourmet insect options in South Africa.
Bessa and her partners, Jean Louwrens and Llewellyn de Beer founded Gourmet Grubb just over a year ago as way to ease squeamish people into the practice.
Why? Because farming insects as protein is much safer for the planet than farming cows in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the environment. Compared to chickens, pigs and cows, insects require a fraction of the water necessary for farming them.
According to Gourmet Grubb, as an environmentally sustainable source of farmed protein for future and even current generations, insects outdo traditional livestock almost entirely.
The trio’s approach starts with ice cream made from entomilk, milk made from sustainably farmed insects. But to fully normalise it, it needs to stop being exoticised, says Bessa.
“Currently, there is a huge 'I went to Thailand and ate insects ' type idea surrounding the concept of eating insects, whereas we need to try and show how insects can be used and incorporated into normal food products and taste just as great, or potentially even better,” she says.
“The first approach to doing this is just by creating great tasting products and getting people to taste them, which is what we did at the Design Indaba.” The three held an exhibition at Design Indaba 2018 as part of the Emerging Creatives programme, an annual scan of 40 emerging designers in South Africa.
“People arrived at our stand with the idea of creepy crawlies, and when they tasted the ice cream, they couldn't even believe that it was made from insects. And that is how it begins, just by educating people on the possibilities. From there onwards, it’s just about repeat exposure until it becomes so normal, that there will be a Gourmet Grubb ice cream stall on every corner.”