Insect burgers create buzz around GCU Community Science Day

13 June 2018

Insect burgers could fly onto British menus as an alternative to beef, chicken and pork as the western world searches for new sources of protein, according to food security experts.

Burgers containing dried locusts, grasshoppers, mealworms and ground insects will be served up to the public at a bug barbecue, as part of Glasgow Caledonian University’s Community Science Day this weekend.

The insects, which will be mixed with cauliflower, mushrooms and yoghurt, are being dished up to highlight food sustainability during Glasgow Science Festival.

Dr John Butcher, lecturer in Food Bioscience and Microbiology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Trends on how we consume food can change quickly. With exposure to things on television, there’s much more of a restaurant culture developing in the UK and a willingness to try new things.

“Although in the west we are not really used to eating insects, billions of people are eating them every day as a source of high protein.

“Around 80% of the countries in the world eat insects, it’s just not popular in North America or Europe.”

The insect burgers are being cooked up as part of GCU Community Science Day, which takes place in The Barn Youth Centre, in the Gorbals, on Saturday, 16 June.

The event is open to all member of the public and includes a range of fun activities based around science, technology, engineering and maths.

Dr Butcher added: “Food security means everyone in the world should be able to access the nutritious food that they need regardless of their social or economic background.

“When we were doing this we were concerned about how safe they were to eat but they meet all the requirements for environmental health.

“A lot of people choose vegetarianism or veganism not because of health issues but mostly for emotive reasons. They are compassionate, they feel that what is happening around farming is cruel or unnecessary.

“The thought is that if you farm insects the footprint they have is a lot smaller than if you farm other traditional forms of livestock, cows, pigs, sheep. You can feed them organic waste, such as potato peelings, and they can thrive on that. The big bonus is that they are all rich in protein.”

Visitors to GCU Community Science Day will also be able to measure their bowling prowess by taking part in a cricket ball challenge measured by an LED speed gun, road-test a mobile video game designed to improve health and well-being, and learn how to build a virus using germ blocks.

The benefits of renewable energy will be showcased via a mini-wind turbine and robotic car, scientists will explain the inner workings of the human arm and how memory works, and there will be a visual display measuring the average length of a sneeze.

For the full programme visit the Glasgow Science Festival section of our website. If you require further information, please email community@gcu.ac.uk.