Our brand-new documentary series, COCONUTS TV ON IFLIX, the first original docu-series to drop on the streaming service, is out right now! In the episode “Birds and Bugs,” we explore the future of food — as some people see it. Read on to learn about how and why bugs are invading plates across Thailand.
Bugs have long been a food staple in Thailand, eaten as an inexpensive, protein-rich street snack in cities and provinces for decades, if not centuries. Since the country became a tourist hub, they have also been served up to tourists on Bangkok streets like Khaosan and Silom.
It’s considered de rigeur to get a bug-eating photo when you visit Thailand.
More recently, bug eating is getting attention in high-end food products and restaurants due to its’ sustainability as a crop, relative low cost to produce and sell, and high nutritional value.
One of the forerunners of the bug-eating cause is Massimo Reverberi, the founder of Bugsolutely, a Bangkok-based company that produces pasta made from a mixture of whole wheat and cricket flour being served in eateries from Siem Reap to Seoul to Shanghai.
Having eaten the pasta ourselves, we can confirm that it tastes and looks like al dente whole wheat pasta, nothing weird tasting about it at all.
Coconuts caught up with Reverberi to ask him how he came up with his innovative product, with its proprietary blend of flours. He said, “Pasta is the most common food in the world. Wheat flour and cricket flour go together very well in terms of taste, and the shelf life is as long as two years.”
His product is designed for western consumers, many of whom take the nutritional properties and sustainability of their food seriously. However, since the EU has only approved insect food to be sold from the beginning of 2019, Reverberi is waiting to make a splash in what he hopes will be one of his biggest markets.
In Bangkok, the pasta is served at the award-winning Seven Spoons restaurant with a wild pesto, and in Siem Reap it’s available at the famed Bugs Cafe.
Even Thai PM Prayuth Chan-Ocha is on the bug bandwagon, praising Bugsolutely’s pasta last week at Thaifex, the Asia World of Foods exhibition held at Impact Arena.
Though Reverberi is passionate about sustainability, he prefers to eat his bugs in processed form, made into something that does not resemble insects. Up next, he has teamed up with a Chinese food accelerator to create Bella Pupa silkworm snack, a processed, healthy bug snack that may appeal to those who don’t like snacks that look like, well, bugs. The new products appears to be a standard sea salt and vinegar snack chip. Even pre-launch, it has won a Food & Beverage Innovation (FBIF) award in Shanghai.
When asked why he thinks bug-eating is the way of the future, he said, “Insects are full of nutritional, like protein, minerals, and vitamins. Breeding them requires ten times less feed than cattle. It’s the perfect food, both for the environment and health. Bugs as food will be in big hit by 2020, I’m sure.”
To learn more about the fascinating world of eating bugs for taste, nutrition, and sustainability, check out the full episode on iflix or watch the original segment below, where we visit a bug farm, bug seller, and high-end bug restaurant.