Interview with Nicole Sartirani, founder of Mikrokosmos Berlin
Hi Nicole, tell us how you got in contact with the edible insects world
Good morning everybody.
The travel into my Mikro-Kosmos began in 2017. Working in gastronomy I started to worry more and more about quality and provenience of the food I could find in Berlin.
My focus fell on sustainable aspects of farming and alternatives protein sources. I was wondering which kind of animal protein could I have farmed in a city on my own, when my father (who founded and leaded a pest-control company for more than 30 years) cams out with the issue: “edible insects”. He meant it as a joke, but I took it seriously and I started to investigate this fascinating world.
I started to travel around places where I could have found a culinary tradition connected with bugs, to attend different workshops about insects farming and insects as food, to take part in convention about sustainable future solutions. After all those interesting experiences, I decided to turn my passion into a small business.
What’s the project Mikrokosmos about?
MikroKosmos is a “growtainer” of ideas and projects that focuses on the universe of edible insects with the purpose to give them importance and overcome the gap of disgust and fear. We create new fields of interaction to arouse the curiosity of different consumers about insect matters and their nutritional value. Besides our street food stand and Catering offer, we are creating new contexts of communication and education through, workshops, talks, theatre and other events.
What’s the difference between the children’s and adults’ reaction?
There is a big difference between children and adults reaction towards insects as food.
Adults background generally doesn’t include many informations about the insects world. Our generation is scared and disgusted because all we know about is mostly connected with pest or body decomposition.
They can learn something about insects and be fascinating of them, but even if they know how many benefits are connected with insects as food, they still have problems to eat a bug.
It’s a fight between consciousness and instinct.
The children at the contrary have nothing against bugs. No negative prejudice, if we don’t give them any. If Children have been told that insects can be eaten since their early age, they will consider bugs as any other food.
I love to do workshops with children because it makes totally sense to me. They learn and they approach spontaneously the insects world. Most of them fall in love, once they realize the importance of insects for our planet and the potential of those small being for out future ecology. Our children are our future. I see adults learning from children, how to be brave and to enjoy eating bugs.
What’s your relation with insects?
Most of my friend make fun of me, because I do not easily touch the insects I farm.
I don’t like to let insects walk on my body or jump too close to me. At the beginning I was garbing them with hands, but they are little and delicate. I realise we can easily hurt them, especially crickets (mealworms even bite!), so I use a fork or a spoon to handle them. It takes time to get in contact with this creatures, but I am the demonstration that everybody can deal with bugs, as I do.
It is all about getting confidence.
Do you think that overcoming the “yuk factor” is the most important thing for entomophagy gain success in the West?
Yes, definitely. It’s all about jumping this cultural gap.
What I realised is that people fear what they don’t know. That’s why my principal focus stays on the communication. I believe that giving people the right knowledge about the issue, will help to get them closer tho this new Kosmos.
Is the german market growing?
Yes. German people care a lot about sustainability and ecology. Their culinary tradition is not too bride so they are pleased to welcome new ingredients and different food cultures. They easily embrace a wider point of view about nutrition and food sources.
What are your projects for the future?
I think nowadays is difficult to plan future projects. Everything could change drastically from a moment to an other.
I have always dreamed to open an insects- restaurant, where to cook the bugs I personally farm, but the european regulation is still too restrictive and the demand is still too low. The right time will come, I am waiting patiently and enjoying working on enlarging my knowledge and my network.