Post by Joris Baars
On September, 20th, Tiny Farms participated in an annual local awareness event (ZimbabWeCare) put on by the JF Kapnek Trust - an organization providing pediatric aid to Zimbabwe. People could get some information about edible insects and a free taste of some insects. We thought it would be a nice experiment to see how many people would actually taste an insect, so we decided to keep track of this during the event.
We served free samples of 3 different flavoured crickets: salted, curried and soy-sauce. The charity event attracted mostly children with their parents. This gave a good opportunity to see the difference between adults and children tasting a cricket. Our findings are put in the table below.
What is interesting to see is that the percentage of children who tried a cricket is 68% and the percentage of adults who tried a cricket is only 30%. What we often saw was that a group of children stimulated each other, the phrase “If you do it, I will do it” came by very often which resulted in a snowball effect of children trying a cricket.
Many adults showed a lot of interest in edible insects but the border to actually grab one and taste it was in many cases too high. However, often the adults and children who showed interested, but found the border to high, returned and still tasted a cricket. Their change in behaviour was often explained by “my friend said it was good” or “my son tried one, now I have to try it to”.
The overall opinion about the taste was rather good and “not so bad as I expected”. The word “Nice!” came by very often, and some children even came back 2 or 3 times to get more.
Around 150 people attended the event and most of them came by our table, with over 50% trying the crickets. At this rate things are looking pretty good for acceptance of insect protein.
Last week we had the privilege of attending and presenting at the first Eating Innovation Conference, organized by Alimentary Initiatives and the Future Food Salon group and held at the Space For Life in Montreal, QC. We spent three very full and enriching days attending presentations and round tables with fellow entrepreneurs, academic researchers, veteran pioneers, and enthusiastic individuals, punctuated by introductions and conversation during breaks.
There was awesome art:
And cool new products on display! Like this home-scale cricket reactor from Third Millenium Farming called CircleChirp
We met old and new friends, tried exciting new food products from Montreal and France, and on the final night experienced a full 9 course bug banquet featuring myriad preparations of crickets (grown by our friends at Big Cricket Farms in Ohio) as well as chapulines and gusano salt imported from Mexico. They had an amazing photographer, and a full gallery is available here!
Our co-founders Jena and Andrew had the honor of presenting the third day's morning plenary session. They talked about business innovation through the lens of Silicon Valley, and presented an overview of startup funding options before opening up the session to a general strategy discussion where valuable questions were posed and insight shared by the audience. We're posting their presentation slides along with their notes below for everyone to access. We have also launched a forum topic for conversation spinning off of this topic, and we hope that anyone with questions or expertise will participate here:
Beyond the success of the conference itself (thanks to the indefatigable organizers), the very fact that this conference took place is a momentous event for those of us working day in and day out to build a viable edible insect industry. It is amazing and gratifying that our emerging field has now garnered enough interest in 2014 to warrant both a fully devoted academic conference in Europe (Insects to Feed the World) and a devoted interdisciplinary Art, Science and Business conference here in North America. We're seeing more than a flash in the pan here - we're seeing a real movement developing.