Bug App├ętit! Food Science student involved in 21 day critter challenge

Tue, 03 Nov 2020 16:19:00 GMT
Loredana has been putting the grasshoppers in pasta, on toast and even in chocolate brownies!
Loredana has been putting the grasshoppers in pasta, on toast and even in chocolate brownies!

Lasagna? Pizza? Fish and Chips? Grasshoppers? Whatever you’re fancying for dinner tonight, the latter option probably won’t be top of your list – but that’s exactly what’s on the menu for one GCU student.

Third year Food Science student Loredana Herciu has swapped traditional meals for tasty critters as part of a “21 day challenge” after teaming up with Mexican company Merci Mercado.

Unable to get involved with work experience or an internship due to the pandemic, Loredana decided to use her initiative and reached out to companies around the world. Her calls were answered by Mexico based Merci Mercado, who focus on sustainable protein through edible insects.

Loredana said: “Everything started during my first year at GCU. During one class we were given certain topics in our groups and we picked edible insects and from there I guess it was love at first sight.

I had really wanted to get experience while studying and literally opened up my laptop, went on Google and started reaching out to companies.

Merci Mercado is a small family-owned company and their focus is to use local cultural ingredients as a way to help both humans and the environment.

It may sound weird or disgusting to some people but it’s actually very common to eat insects in a lot of countries.”

She added: “The idea of this challenge is to use insects as my main provider of protein for three weeks, instead of meat or fish.

At lunch and dinner I’ve been having different things like pasta with grasshoppers or putting them on toast with spreading cheese. It actually tastes really nice!

I was given various flavours of grasshoppers, so it’s been fun finding out which flavours go with different dishes. I’ve even tried them with chocolate brownies and it comes together really well.”

Loredana started the challenge on October 24 and insists there are wider benefits to individuals and society as a whole.

She explained: “It’s well known that protein is really good for the human body. Insects have a huge amount of it compared to the likes of beef or shrimp. For example per 100g of beef there is 28g of protein and per 100g of grasshoppers you get 57g of protein, which is amazing!

Also, to produce 1kg of insects you will use four times less water and 13 times less land than it would take to produce 1kg of beef – so the benefits to the environment are also clear.

The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, so we obviously need to feed that amount of people. We don’t actually have enough beef for those sorts of numbers and I honestly believe that insects are going to be the future.”

You can follow Loredana’s journey by following her bugs4dinner Instagram page.

By Ross Clark
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