Could eating insects solve world food shortage?

Issue date: 29 February 2012


Creating tasty food items from ground-up insects could be a solution to global food shortages, according to Insects Au Gratin, an exhibition featuring 3D food printing technology.

3D printing expert from UWE Bristol's Centre for Fine Print Research Dr. Peter Walters is part of the team who worked on the idea, which is on show at the Science Gallery, Dublin, until April 6. The creative team behind Insects Au Gratin was led by designer Susana Soares and included food bioscientist Dr Kenneth Spears from London South Bank University, Pestival and Penelope Kupfer of Steak Studio.

Insects au Gratin reveals insects as a valuable source of protein and looks at new ways they could be consumed by humans. It is part of the Science Gallery's Edible exhibition which focuses on the future of food.

Peter's recent research into edible 3D printing led him to be invited to contribute to the project. Using a modified 3D printer, prototype foodstuffs were fabricated from flour made from dried insects combined with soft cheese.

Peter said 'I had recently been working on a research project into edible 3D printing with colleagues Deborah Southerland and David Huson here at the Centre for Fine Print Research. We had already some success fabricating various food items from icing sugar, chocolate fudge, mashed potato and soft cheese, and we gave a demonstration of this work at the Science Museum in London last year. We were absolutely delighted when Susana Soares got in touch and asked us to be part of the Insects Au Gratin team. We plan to continue working on the project with Susana and colleagues after the Dublin Exhibition has finished and hope to work together to refine the insect flour material and the 3D printing process.'

3D printing is currently a hot topic in a whole host of disciplines from medicine and engineering to art and design. The UWE Centre for Fine Print Research is at the forefront of the field with its ground breaking research in ceramic 3D printing which was recently presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

With future predictions of a 3D printer in every home, edible 3D printing presents the possibility of personalised edible items which can be tailored to suit individual tastes and dietary requirements.

The exhibition is supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Editor's notes

For further info see http://sciencegallery.com/edible/technology/insects-au-gratin

Photo credit - Insects au Gratin. Illustration: Penelope Kupfer- Steak Studio. Edible Exhibition, Science Gallery, Dublin

-ENDS-

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