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Belgian researchers serve up waffles made of insects

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Insect-based fat is a sustainable and healthy alternative to butter, according to the research team at Ghent University in Belgium.

Eating insects isn't exactly mainstream and is mainly only popular in countries in Asia. Some risk-taking European and American restaurants have trialled the delicacy, but most of us wouldn't eye up a giant centipede and find it appetising.

Nevertheless, bug-based gastronomy could be the future. United Nations food experts have been pushing insects as a source of nutrition for years, claiming that their consumption could reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to less livestock pollution. A 2013 report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation describes edible insects as a "good source of protein that could help sustain life" pointing to caterpillars, already a popular food source in Central Africa. According to the report, the world's population will reach 9 billion people by 2050, meaning more alternative food sources will be needed.

Nutritionists agree that insects are high in protein, vitamins, fibre and minerals. But before you run off to open your own insect farm, it's important to bear in mind that, as of yet, we don't know enough about the long-term consequences of farming insects in large quantities. A lot of questions remain unanswered, from which species are suitable to waste management. Further research is required, as a group of Swiss scientists highlighted last year.

Canva
More than 1,900 species of insects are edible, according to the FAO.Canva

Insects waffles were a hit with students

"The ecological footprint of an insect is much smaller compared to animal-based food sources," says researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa from Ghent University. She and her colleagues came up with the idea of testing the insects as ingredients in cakes and sweets, such as waffles, hence making them practically unnoticeable.

While the results proved successful in Ghent University canteen, when cooking, a pungent smell of insect fat was off-putting. The team plan to address the issue.

Students who were blind testing two different waffle recipes did not detect which of them were made with insect fat. "They are pretty much alike. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference," said Colombian student Daniel Ariza to AP.

"I don't feel that they are disgusting, I think it's just like the future," said another student, Lina Ojeda.

Click on the video above to see how the researchers made waffles with insect fat.

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