Interview with Anouk Zoet and Julien Zimmer, co-founders of Oh my bug
Tell us how you got involved in the edible insects world
2 years ago, Julien had to do some research about entomophagy for his work as a video journalist. Because of that, we started to read more and more articles explaining the environmental and health aspects of it. We decided to try them ourselves instead of listening to people describing it. Because to experience entomophagy, you have to try and taste it yourself! We discovered that different insects had different textures and flavours and that it would be great to try different dishes. This is how we started to combine our interest for eating insects, our passion for cooking and our creativity.
Why did you decide to launch a bug-based video recipes site?
When we started to be interested in entomophagy, we found out that it is easy to buy insects, but there were few recipes, tips and instructions on how to prepare them. You read about consuming insect, how challenging and quirky it is, but if you go for it, you are a bit left alone with your insects. So we wanted to fill this gap by creating a website with information about their taste and with videos that show how easy you can include them in a dish.
Which way could edible insects become part of our diets avoiding the “yuk factor”?
There is a part of entomophagy that tends to hide the insect, because the less you see it or taste it, the more you might avoid this “yuk factor”. That’s understandable, especially at this early stage of entomophagy in Europe. For instance, our recipe for cereal pie with cricket flour is one our most popular recipes, probably because the crickets appears in a form we are all very confortable with: flour. This is a first stage to go towards entomophagy, but after one point you must be also aware of the look of what you eat. This is why we use plain insects, that have not been already flavoured and that appear very visible in our video`s. The easiest way to start is to add insects to your own recipes. Everybody has their favorite dish. For example pizza! Just add your normal topping and add a few grasshoppers or mealworms. And for more inspiration, you’ve to visit the website of Oh my bug. Check out our grasshopper pizza with goat cheese and honey!
Could food styling be the solution for an higher consumers acceptance?
Food styling is not the answer for people to start eating insects eat less meat. It takes more than that. But maybe it makes it easier when you try insects for the first time. If something looks attractive, you’re more willing to try it. If more people start the discussion about entomophagy and the taboo around the subject gets smaller, then we’re making progress. But to really get used to insects, to make a habit out of it, there is nothing like going to an insect store, restaurant, a food truck, to a festival or other place where you and the people around you can taste different insects.
What do you think about the development of entomophagy in Europe?
While eating insects in Asia, Africa and South America is a norm, western countries are not that fond of eating insects. Also the media coverage is more about the freaky and weird aspect rather than the benefits. But there is more serious interest now. More and more people start to understand that entomophagy is a serious thing, either from a health – or an environmental point of view. In western countries the individual wellbeing is given more attention and at the same time we are trying to reduce our environmental impact. Then, you understand that eating insects is the next logic step, because insects are very nutritious and they provide food at low environmental costs. This development is slow but steady and there are more initiatives than ever before. In Amsterdam the first pop-up insect bar of Europe opened its doors: Sweets & Insects. If you’re in the neighborhood, you’ve to check it out!
You’ll release one recipe every 10 days, that’s a lot of work to do. Are you planning to realise a cookbook?
Making, recording and editing the videos is a lot of planning and a lot of hard work. Because we’ve just started Oh my bug, we’re looking forward to see if people are just as enthusiastic as we are.
We definitely want to continue this adventure with our videos and explore the possibilities of entomophagy. For now we are fully dedicated to our videos, photos and our website. But having our own cookbook would be a great perspective.
Will you also sell some edible insects products?
There are already many companies that offer edible insects, and we don’t intend to become a retailer. We are rather a platform that shows you how to cook insects at home with delicious and easy recipes, to find inspiration and information about what insects taste, smell and feel like.