Why Everyone Is Talking About Insects
Insects are delicious and nutritious for people and the planet. While other countries have eaten them for thousands of years, the Nordics are getting turned on. Find out why.
Malena Sigurgeirsdóttir is the Co-Founder of Hey Planet, a food company making everything from a meat alternative to crispbread with edible insects. Insects have been eaten in Asia, Africa, and South America for thousands of years, but they are new to the Nordic diet.
Recently, insects been getting a lot of attention as an alternative protein and as a feed alternative for livestock. They have a strong nutritional profile, containing high quality protein, vitamins, and amino acids that are critical for humans. They’re also more sustainable to raise. Compared to conventional livestock like cattle, sheep, and chickens, insects need less feed to produce the same amount of protein. They also emit less greenhouse gases and can be grown on organic waste, putting our food waste to good use.
In this episode, you’ll hear how insects are able to fight poverty, boost nutrition, reduce pollution, and combat climate change. Listen in as Malena gives us the inside scoop on why insects matter, how they solved her own health issues, and why soon, they might not feel like such a novel food.
Malena Sigurgeirsdóttir, Hey Planet 1:37
Thank you very much.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 1:38
So I want to start by getting your backstory. You grew up in Iceland, how did you discover insects?
Malena Sigurgeirsdóttir, Hey Planet 1:48
So, we have to fast forward because I actually ran into insects when I was traveling to Tanzania. I was having a gap year after my high school experience. I thought I was going to be a doctor. So, I needed a little break from my studies. I went to live in Tanzania in a little rural village, close to Kilimanjaro with a local family. I was just going to teach math and chemistry for some kids. But I remember one of the first dinners that I had with my local family, we sat on the floor, and I was served fried grasshoppers. At this time, like most of my life, I'd been a vegetarian. This was a very new thing for me. I had no idea that people even were eating bugs. I didn't know if they were dangerous. What does it taste of? Is it an animal? Can I even eat this? But I figured I didn't want to disappoint this family. I wanted to integrate into the culture. So, my choice was to either eat this or go to bed starving. So, I jumped into it. I dug into these crunchy grasshoppers, and I was very surprised by the taste and the texture. I actually really liked it. So, during my six to nine months there, I was eating grasshoppers daily. And I felt really, really good in my body. I had some problems with some anemia, burning a lot and I could definitely feel a change in my body. But it was only until later that I discovered it was thanks to the insects that I was feeling good.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 3:34
And what is it about insects? What's their nutritional value that caused that change?