Curious about crunching on a cricket, munching on a mealworm or ingesting any other type of insect, but not willing to dive in head-first?
Researchers from the University of Adelaide have the perfect solution, holding a series of free pop-up events across South Australia between 28 February and 6 March using augmented reality (AR) to give you the ideal introduction to adding insects to your weekly menu.
“This experience aims to not only improve familiarity with insects as food, but build awareness of the South Australian insect protein industry, which is in its very early stages,” said food scientist Ishka Bless, a joint PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide and the University of Nottingham.
“Following the pilot program, we will establish a permanent, online platform through which the AR experience and complementary educational video can be accessed. This platform will then be evaluated through ongoing research to understand the extent to which education can influence attitudes towards edible insects and increase the uptake of edible insects as an alternative protein in everyday diets.”
Insects are an environmentally sustainable source of high-quality protein. They played an important role in early human diets, and continue to be eaten by millions of people worldwide. The University of Adelaide researchers are working to refine and standardise the language used to describe the flavour and texture of edible insects, as well as explore strategies to improve everyday adoption of insects in food.
Sensory profiles were developed last year as a result of feedback from trained tasting panels.
“This experience aims to not only improve familiarity with insects as food, but build awareness of the South Australian insect protein industry, which is in its very early stages.”Food scientist Ishka Bless, a joint PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide and the University of Nottingham.
“For these pop-up events, we have collaborated with local arts organisations, Post Dining and Monkeystack, to develop two innovative digital resources which showcase insects as food – an AR experience and a complementary educational video,” Ms Bless said.
“The program will enable the South Australian community to interact with local Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) research and improve sustainable food literacy by exploring the flavours and textures of edible insects, as well as options for incorporating insects into everyday dishes.
“Until we address the limited availability of insect-based food and opportunities for exposure to edible insects in the home, it will be challenging for the emerging Australian insect protein industry to achieve the key role it is anticipated to play in protein diversification.”
The pop-up events have been made possible with the support of Inspiring SA, an initiative of the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Science and Resource; the Government of South Australia through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Flinders University, and the South Australian Museum. The events will be held at:
Tonsley: 11am-2pm, Tuesday 28 February 2023. The Tonsley Pod, Tonsley Innovation District
Willunga Farmers’ Market: 8am-11.30am, Saturday 4 March 2023. Willunga High School, Main Road, Willunga
Adelaide Farmers’ Market: 8:30am-12pm, Sunday 5 March 2023. Adelaide Showground, Rose Terrace, Wayville
Mount Gambier: 10am-1pm, 2pm-4pm, Monday 6 March 2023. The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre