REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: CSIRO releases roadmap for 'edible insect industry'

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.

Food for Thought: A modern-style breakfast with insects. We've dubbed this cuisine 'grub grub'. Picture: Boris Ceko

Food for Thought: A modern-style breakfast with insects. We've dubbed this cuisine 'grub grub'. Picture: Boris Ceko

You may not have spotted it yet, but there's something different about this meal.

If you're eating right now, you might want to stop reading.

For everyone else, you may be surprised to know that the CSIRO believes Australia can become "a player in the billion-dollar global edible insect industry".

This industry could produce "nutritious, sustainable and ethical products to support global food security".

We're all for good nutrition. And if us primped, preened and privileged Westerners could get past the weirdness, we'd probably come to accept that eating bugs is only natural.

But by crikey, if anyone ever tried to make us eat a cockroach, we'd fight them to the death like one of those brutal insect battles you can find online if you're really bored.

That aside, you might like to know that the CSIRO has released a "roadmap" for the "strategic growth" of the "emerging Australian industry" of edible insects, otherwise known by the oddly accurate nickname that we ourselves invented. Yep, we're calling this buzzing business "grub grub".

CSIRO researchers have been running around like blue-arsed flies compiling statistics for their "roadmap", a term that bureaucrats tend to use when they're tired of using the batshit boring words "plan and strategy". Or perhaps, they're simply dreaming of a road-trip escape from the office.

Anyhow, apparently more than 2100 insect species are presently eaten by 2 billion people from 130 countries. This includes 60 native insect species traditionally consumed by Australia's Indigenous people.

If witchetty grubs comes to mind, you're bang on the money. Also think bogong moths, honey pot ants and green tree ants.

Traumatically, during a search of the CSIRO report Edible Insects, we read that a group known as Rebel Food Tasmania [described as food industry innovators] sell peanut butter with the likes of "crickets, mealworms or native cockroaches [marketed as 'woodies'] to increase the protein content".

"Some businesses are already sourcing wild harvested native green tree ants and cockroaches to create products available on the market," the report said.

Soon we'll have nutritionists, social media influencers and Gwyneth Paltrow telling us that insects are the new superfood.

Snug as a bug CSIRO researcher Dr Rocio Ponce Reyes said the global edible insect industry was growing fast.

"Insects have high-value nutritional profiles, and are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins B12, C and E," Dr Ponce Reyes said.

"They are also complementary to our existing diets because they are a healthy, environmentally friendly and a rich source of alternative proteins."

The tendency for us spoiled Westerners to eat - without flinching - animals reared in cruel factory farms, stands as quite a contrast to any resistance towards this insect-eating caper.

Perhaps one day, stuffing our faces with insects will become as trendy Down Under as veganism.

If not, perhaps the promise of dollar signs will entice some savvy Australian investors to start insect farms.

"The worldwide edible insect market is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2023. Europe and the United States lead the Western world market, with more than 400 edible-insect related businesses in operation," Dr Ponce Reyes said.

Bring on that cold, hard cockroach cash, hey. It's the bee's knees.

In case you are interested in filtering all the latest down to just one late afternoon read, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?

More stuff happening around Australia ...