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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Insects as past and future food in entomophobic Europe

Svanberg, Ingvar; Berggren, Asa


Insects as food show a large variation in traditional use over the world. This high variation between countries in combination with current ideas of insects as part of a solution to feed a growing global population raises interesting questions. The aim of this paper is to investigate what has been perceived as food historically and how this changes over time with focus on insects. Insects and their products have been used for food and medicine within and outside Europe for as long as we have records. They have not been a staple food but a rare addition to the diet. The frequency of use in Europe, even in times of food crisis, points to reluctance towards this food source. Based on behavioral history and perception of insects as food we suggest the terms entomophobic (insect despising) and entomophilic (insect loving) to describe the eating behavior of societies. If societies are to change their food consumption patterns, new food habits and traditions needs to be created. Altering a predominantly entomophobic society to an entomophilic, changes are needed to take place and many are linked to consumption tradition. Change is likely; history teaches us that aversion to ingredients is possible to overcome.


Entomophagy; ethnozoology; food change; food-cultural studies; future food; gastroculture; nutritional anthropology

Published in

Food, Culture & Society
2021, Volume: 24, number: 5, pages: 624-638

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science

    Publication identifier


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