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The meat of affliction: Insects and the future of food as seen in Expo 2015 (commentary)


Shelomi,  Matan
Department of Entomology, Prof. D. G. Heckel, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Shelomi, M. (2016). The meat of affliction: Insects and the future of food as seen in Expo 2015 (commentary). Trends in Food Science & Technology, 56, 175-179. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2016.08.004.

Background: Insects are touted as a “food of the future” due to their lower environmental footprint relative to traditional livestock, raising interest in entomophagy as a sustainable diet. As such, they appeared at future-food themed Universal Exposition 2015 in Milan, Italy, in which 145 countries presented their nations’ food culture and contributions to innovative food science and technology. Scope and approach: The presence and absence of entomophagy in all the national and themed pavilions of Expo 2015 and the way developing and developed nations differed in their presentation of insects were analyzed as a microcosm of global attitudes to insects as food and the barriers towards its wider adoption. Key findings and conclusions: Only Belgium and the Netherlands presented insects in their vision for the future, and only Angola as traditional cuisine. Nations noted for active entomophagy today such as Mexico and Thailand did not mention insects at all. Efforts to serve insects faced obstacles in Italian import restrictions, which changed by the event's end. Expo 2015 illustrates challenges in promoting global entomophagy, including the need for improved rearing methods, the risks of associating insects with starvation scenarios, and the preference of Westerners for processed insects over whole.