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    Bug Binge: Finns Most Eager to Feast on Protein-Rich Creepy-Crawlies

    © AFP 2019 / FABRICE COFFRINI
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    With the prospect of switching to insect-based foods being proposed as a way of dodging a global food crisis, Finland seems to be among the most promising markets, since many Finns have been found to be eager to change their diet, provided that the new insect-based products are available at shops.

    A surprising 70 percent of Finnish respondents are interested in insects as a foodstuff, whereas about 50 percent would gladly buy insect-based food if it were available in stores, a new survey conducted by the University of Turku and the Natural Resources Institute (Luke) revealed. Surprisingly, many Finns talked about eating insects from personal experience, as a third of respondents claimed to have previously tried eating bugs beforehand, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.

    While Finnish cuisine remains heavily reliant on traditional country fare and includes plenty of wholegrain products, fish and wild mushrooms and berries, Finns were found to be far more optimistic about eating insects than residents of Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic, other nations surveyed as part of the 'Insects in the food chain' project.

    ​​While half of Finns have no qualms about eating bugs, worms or larvae, less than 40 percent of Swedes, 30 percent of Czechs and just 25 percent of Germans are ready to imbibe.

    According to the Finnish food safety watchdog Evira, Finland joined most EU countries in forbidding the use of insects as food until further notice. Despite the potential benefits of a nutritious insect diet, the safety of food must first be verified until the large-scale authorized sale of insect-based foodstuffs may begin. Of all the EU nations, only the UK and France chose to allow insects as food. However, neither European nor domestic legislation is bearing on individual eating habits.

    While many Finns still find the idea of consuming creepy-crawlies rather unappetizing, project coordinator Jaakko Korpela argued that many public misgivings were in fact based on a lack of accurate information. Very much like proverbial locusts, a variety of insects can be eaten in a variety of forms, from entire cooked insects to ground meal.

    "Consumers would find it easiest if insects were simply added to products in powdered form," Terhi Pohjanheimo from Turku University told Yle, citing the potential use of insect proteins in meatballs, nuggets and various fillings.

    A previous survey by the Finnish National Resources Institute (Luke) found that Finland's self-sufficiency in terms of protein currently hovers at around 20 percent. According to entrepreneur Robert Nemlander, founder of the company Entocube, which produces locust flour, this is where bugs may step in as a cheap and climate-friendly option, Yle reported.

    According to Nemlander, locusts require ten times less feed than cattle and two thousand times less water, with greenhouse gas emissions amounting to only a hundredth of the corresponding meat production. Additionally, insects take up a minimal area, compared to livestock. Finally, dried locusts contain 70 percent protein together with a good set of amino acids, as well as high levels of iron, calcium and vitamin B12.

     

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    food crisis, insects, Scandinavia, Finland
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