The University of Cambridge Catering Managers‘ Committee has progressed on plans to improve the institution's sustainability with a series of insect-based culinary events.
Caterers at Darwin College will host an insect and sustainable wine evening for students and staff before launching its first-ever insect-based formal. Insects to appear on the menu will include roasted crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms, as well as cricket falafel and buffalo worm, the larvae of beetle species Alphitobius Diaperinus.
Ivan Higney, catering manager at Darwin College and chairman of the University of Cambridge Catering Managers' Committee, said: "After the adoption of our progressive sustainability platform, we have been consistently looking for ways to increase our plant-based food offer, while also reducing our use of ruminant animal products such as beef and lamb cattle.
"We've delivered many new initiatives in line with our sustainability aims, and when insects were suggested as an alternative source of protein, we decided to create the first ever insect menu for a University of Cambridge Formal Hall.
"With this unique event, we hope to entice students and staff into trying some new and interesting sustainable options."
While a pioneering step to introduce insects to a formal, a university event steeped in tradition, it is not the first time bugs have intentionally graced the plates of Cambridge's hallowed halls.
In 2017 St John's College, under the stewardship of catering and conference manager Bill Brogan, held insect tasting sessions with dishes including falafel hashara, buffalo worm, cricket falafel, za'atar flatbread (made with cricket flour), tzatziki and tabbouleh.
Brogan, also chairman of the Food Service Managers Group at the University of Cambridge, added: "The main aim of the tasting session was to start a discussion about the role that insects might come to play in our diets over time. While many people still feel queasy at the thought of eating a plate of beetles or a deep-fried grasshopper, in many other the cultures, the practice of eating insects is completely normal. We're not going to start serving insects to students at dinner full time, but we do want to want to encourage new thinking about the challenges that we face when it comes to how we get our food."