An original character sketch for today, I will talk about a special inhabitant of Strasbourg who is close to environment. His name is Florian, he is aged of 27, found of nature and open-minded. He is not famous in Alsace but he has a little thing different from the other French: He eats bugs!
I found him on Twitter when I was looking for new local contacts. As a curious blogger, I always take a look at the personal websites. Well, that was a surprise because when I landed on his website, I found some traditional recipes with insects: Cricket’s muesli, Kale chips with roasted mealworms, special salad of « Bag-End ». In fact, some sweetened or salted dishes that are not regularly eaten in France.
I was choked (positively for sure!) because I found this crazy! Not madness, but more surprised by this open-minded idea. Some of you will find it « dirty » maybe even « horrible », but before reading his interview, you have to know that crickets, grasshoppers and worms are totally normal in Asia, Africa and South-America!
1. What’s your name?
2. What is your school career?
Since my childhood, I’m passionate about environment and nutrition.
For so, I choose to finish my school career with a Master degree in Environmental Sciences.
3. What did you do after your Master degree?
Unfortunately, after my diploma’s validation in 2011, I didn’t find some work so I needed to question myself about what I wanted truly in life.
What I wanted? Finding a link between environment, social, healthy lifestyle and nutrition. Why healthy lifestyle and nutrition? As an ex-obese and ex-anorexic who became fitness enthusiast, I have a special link with food. I always try to find some healthy and nutritious foods with low environmental impacts.
I also want to share something, use my skills to leave a positive impact around me.
So, one day: A bug gets out of my head! Insects could give me some professional and personal opportunities; and more over give me a real life purpose!
For so I started learning more about entomophagy, insects and nutrition.
4. I read on your website that you eat insects, how was your first time?
You will maybe find it surprising, but I had some apprehension for the first time. It was dried mealworms that I bought on Internet. I loved it!
5. Where do your edible insects are coming from?
6. How do you raise them?
I only raise mealworms for 3 years on a home scale; they are fed with organic flour and carrots.
When they are big enough, I let them fast during one day. After that, I freeze them. And for finish, I cook them like meat or shrimps.
You have to know that in France, there is no real legislation about how to raise properly insects.
Some European countries like Belgium and Netherlands chose to take a step forward, so I follow their hygienic rules.
7. Can you tell me more about edible insects?
For sure! There are more than 2000 edible species that are recorded around the world.
In Belgium, a list of 10 allowed species has been written. These species have been chosen mainly regarding their edibility and the rearing process. In this list, you will find some crickets, mealworms and locusts.
8. How do we know that insects are edible? How to choose them?
If people want to taste or eat insects, they should contact people engaged in the field OR directly by some insects on the Internet.
You will find some French producers who are applying some strict rules even if there is a lack of legislation.
If you don’t have skills in entomology, I don’t recommend collecting insects in the nature or in a pet shop. These insects haven’t been raised for human consumption.
Ethically, it is more interesting to buy some French or European insects in order to promote the local economy.
9. How do insects taste like?
I tasted some mealworms, buffaloworms, crickets and locusts, and they have a nice nutty-shrimpy flavor.
10. Do you eat them alive? How do you prepare them?
I recommend eating dead and cooked insects! It’s safer and tastier.
If you buy freeze-dried insects on the Internet, you can rehydrate them in boiling water. Then, you can cook them normally.
11. Do you eat something else during the day?
Yes of course (laugh!) Bugs are only part of my diet; I don’t want to eat all of my production!
I create my own recipes and add some insects in it. I always try to use them in a healthy way.
From a personal point of view, it’s a shame using and promoting insects only as an appetizer, because after all it’s still nibbling…
12. Why eat insects?
First of all, insects are rich in proteins, B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. The chitin can be considered as fiber.
Rearing insects has less impact on the environment than the other rearing systems. It needs less resources, water, and feed for providing the same amount of food.
For example, the production of mealworms produces far less greenhouse gas than pigs.
Despite their little size, they grow and reproduce very fast that allow them to grow much in global mass than the other animals.
Because they are cold-blooded, insects need less food to produce the same amount of meat. Last point, you can eat almost everything in an insect.
It has a real social impact
Development of entomophagy is a brand new sector. It would create a large amount of new crafts and skills in marketing, production, communication, safety and cooking. More over, insects can be raised almost everywhere, so they can be a source of proteins for people living in poor countries.
Insects are delicious but for the moment, it’s still expensive because there is no real market.
13. How many bugs should we eat to replace a steak?
Insects and beef are nutritionally relatives.
For more information : Click here
If you want to replace an entire steak by insects, bigger insects like grasshoppers will be more interesting.
Regarding their size, taste, texture and their uses, you can’t say “Well, I’m gonna replace my steak with 150 grams of mealworms!”
In their original shapes, I see more insects as a complement to meat.
14. Did you get sick by eating insects?
I know exactly where my mealworms come from and what they have eaten. After cooking them properly, there is no real risk.
15. Do you a little story about bugs?
Well, after seeing the first generation of egg hatching, I was so proud and I felt like I became dad… (Laugh!)
16. I saw that you have a website. When and why did you start it?
I create this website in October 2014. I created this website after a Conference about edible insects that took place in Montreal in late August. During this event, I met a lot of amazing people invested in the movement. Until this moment, I never had the courage of sharing my ideas outside my friend circle.
This website is my way to share my path, ideas and recipes with my American friends and also in order to develop this idea here on a global scale. I really think that the development of entomophagy will be global with local actions.
17. How can you explain that the French have reluctance towards edible insects?
The answer is simple: It’s normal we never eaten bugs regularly in France and Europe. For understanding this, let’s go back to the past!
The first men appeared in Africa, about 3 Millions years ago. With this hot and moist climate, insects were very abundant. They were present in the diet just as fruits, meat, fish and seeds. We can think that insects were very important because at this period of time, the ratio between energy needed for collecting and energy brought by the food was essential. If you needed some energy, proteins and minerals in great amount, it was easier to collect a bug than going hunting some dangerous big game.
When the human moved into the temperate climate, the insects weren’t available all year round. So its consumption decreased.
With the arrival of agriculture, sedentarization and domestication, insect even became a pest. It could eat our foods, invade our homes and transmit diseases.
That’s how insects always stood in the diet of tropical countries and never appears often in ours.
After all, the cultures are evolving and regarding the actual challenges; we should accept this delicacy. Insect consumption is maybe not printed in our culture but it is for sure in our genes!
18. Are insects eaten elsewhere in the world?
Well, as European, we are almost the only non-bug eaters! They are eaten everywhere else. They are eaten regularly by more than 2,5 Billion people in more than 100 countries. More over, they are not considered as scarce food but as delicacies!
19. Do you recommend edible insects? And why?
Every French people eat around 500 grams of edible insects per year. We are already eating insects that are present in a lot of different ingredients such as juices, coffee, chocolate or Yogurt for example.
For a personal answer, I would say definitively: YES!
Step by step, watching, smelling, tasting and hearing the insect. I think that we will be able to accept and even love insect just as what it’s really is: An excellent ingredient and even more!
Today, we have lost the contact with our food by all the processes that had altered the nutritional values and the flavors. Every person taking care of his health and the environment should eat insects. When we eat healthy, we expect to live longer, so we need to take a step further and expect also a wealthier world.
20. Do we have a legal framework in Europe?
For the moment, there is no real legislation about edible insects in Europe, it will maybe come in 2016.
21. Can we find some restaurants serving insects in France or even in Strasbourg?
In France, you can find some insects but it’s still hard. In Strasbourg, it is coming soon! (Laugh)
22. Do you have some personal and professional goals linked with edible insects?
Developing entomophagy is really the meaning of my life, my main goal. For so, I have started doing activities and I want to create an urban farm here. I think that people can be ready, but you have be present on the field to reassure them and give them all the information they need. After an activity, I want that each person had a great time and leave the room with a big smile on his face and some bugs in the mind, the heart and the belly!
23. What do you think of Man Vs. Wild or Fear Factor? Do you think it’s positive?
I find it very negative. For a lot of people, it is the only information they have about edible insects and it is pictured as gross and as a disgusting challenge.
24. Anything else to know about edible insects?
Well, some edible insects were also mentioned in religion. Regarding the Bible, the Torah and the Koran, you can eat some grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.
25. My readers want to try insects; do you have some advices?
For a first time, crickets or mealworms are perfect!
You can eat them dried as a snack or rehydrate them in boiling water before cooking them in the oven or in the pan!
You can prepare a quiche with mealworms or coat some crickets in dark chocolate for topping your muffins. Simple, delicious and impressive!
Personally, I like them roasted with cinnamon with a coconut pancake and red fruits!
Conclusion: My personal thought
After this face-to-face meeting with Florian, I understood that all the insects around us are not appreciated as they deserve to. Obviously, I had to make my own opinion and I tried one of his mealworms. I was scared and at the same time it was funny. You know, a mix of emotions, a challenge. I chewed it and guess what, I liked it. In fact, we shouldn’t make so much trouble about eating insects! After all, as French we are eating oysters, lobsters and frogs, so why not insects? I wouldn’t have said that if it was sticky or distasteful but I liked it! I think that we are to close-minded and that’s a shame… But hopefully, we are looking for healthier and more natural food and insects can be a solution. I’m not saying that I can eat insects often, for the moment it’s still hard to consider insect as food. I still imagine insect like a little tiny creature lovely as a ladybug or creepy like a spider. My mind could evolve with more encounters, more information about hygiene and law and taste a real dish with insects. For conclusion, I would thank Florian for all these explanation about insects and entomophagy.
Original link : http://www.laureabeauty.com/2015/03/Manger-insectes-comestibles-Florian-Nock-Strasbourg.html
I really liked this interview and this meeting, I had a great time too! I’m glad that now you know more about insects, you will be able to maybe accept them as food in the future. I hope that we will keep in touch together and now I’m waiting for your bugs recipes!