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04th May 2023

Students at £20k-a-year school vote to add insects to their school dinners

Jack Peat

Pupils at one of the country’s most prestigious private schools will be treated to noodles with teriyaki grasshopper and rice topped with buffalo worms

School dinners are about to take a unique twist at one of Britain’s most prestigious private girls’ schools.

Eco-conscious pupils have voted in favour of new menu items that are more environmentally conscious, and will soon be tucking into dishes such as Chinese-style noodles with teriyaki grasshopper, Sweet chilli and lime crickets and Mexican rice topped with buffalo worms.

According to a University of Edinburgh report, cultivated insects can convert their feed into energy more efficiently than conventional livestock animals, and a larger portion of the animal can be eaten.

Insects also breed more frequently than most farmed animals, producing many generations in a year, and take up a relatively small land area.

Dr Peter Alexander of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems has even suggested that insect consumption in Europe may soon become normalised.

“The acceptability of foods can change over time. Tomatoes were regarded as poisonous in Britain and dismissed for over 200 years.

“Lobsters, now an expensive delicacy, were formerly so abundant in the US that they were served to workers and prisoners and were commonly used as fertiliser and fish bait.”

Students at North London Collegiate School (NLCS), which charges fees of £20,000 per year, will now test a trial menu for a few weeks that could be rolled out permanently if popular.

Guy Kaye, the general manager for catering at NCLS, told The Telegraph: “We’re dedicated to driving sustainability without compromising the satisfaction of the pupils we serve.

“The girls have been a driving force behind the change, and are really open to trying new things that are better for the world, even if that includes trying edible insects that are very common in other parts of the word and a sustainable source of fibre.”

Alice Beer, presenter of This Morning and a former pupil at the school, also backed the menu change.

She said: “I’m sure north Londoners will make dietary decisions that balance their ethical, moral and sustainable beliefs.

“I personally wouldn’t flinch at eating anything on that menu. I’d probably rather eat insects than cows.

“It’s the catering staff that might have to adapt though. In my day the one or two vegetarians in the year were treated with slight bewilderment by the ladies in white.”

The insects have been sourced from the UK from the website Souschef, which described its insect produce as having a “nutty” flavour and suggested they could be used in recipes such as “insect pasta” or that cricket flour could be added to cakes and bread for consumers feeling too squeamish to try a whole one.

Souschef acknowledged its products are expensive, with a 15g bag of Peri Peri Roasted Crickets costing £2.90.

However, it added that as farming insects for human consumption was a new thing, many of the processes were “labour-intensive” and “not yet streamlined for maximum efficiency”.

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