EAT THE BUGS: UK Schoolchildren Fed Insects to Encourage ‘Sustainability’

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Schoolchildren in Wales are being fed bugs as part of a research programme by publicly-funded universities “to educate children on the environmental and nutritional benefits of edible insects across the UK”, according to the left-wing i newspaper.

Children at four Welsh primary schools — roughly equivalent to American elementary schools — will participate in a study aimed at making youngsters “think about alternative proteins as real things for now, rather than just as foods for the future,” according to Christopher Bear, a Cardiff University academic helping to organise the study.

University of the West of England academic Verity Jones, another study organiser, appeared to imply that finding ways to weaponise children as “agents of dietary change” against their parents is one of the objects of the research in comments to the i, too.

“Many children have the power of pester, so in some cases can be great agents of dietary change within the family,” she suggested, adding that children’s reluctance to consume insects could be overcome in part by drilling it into their heads that minuscule amounts of bug matter make their way into regular foodstuffs naturally anyway.

“I have found that, once children know that insects are already, by the very nature of processing, in many of the foods we eat; and are assured that they won’t become ill from eating them, they are very open to trying,” Jones said, adding: “All research, for adults and children, indicates whole insects are off-putting, but ground-up insects within foods are very acceptable.”

Roch Community Primary School headmaster Carl Evans, who leads one of the schools participating in the bug-eating scheme, opined that “[t]here is an important connection between our local community, food production and wider global issues surrounding sustainable development.”

He claimed that “[t]hese issues are important to children” — although evidence that primary school aged children, who can be as young as four, genuinely spend their time thinking about “food production and wider global issues surrounding sustainable development” with significant adult coaching appears to be thin on the ground.

Nevertheless, normalising bug-eating seems to be a particular obsession of institutions in the United Kingdom and the wider West, with the UK Research and Innovation Council (UKRI) — an arm of the British government — suggesting in 2021 that “meat” fashioned from mealworms and crickets may have to replace regular meat as part of the “net zero” agenda.

The European Union, too, has been keen to push insect consumption, moving to approve them as regulated foodstuffs in 2020.

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