Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grimiam - Progressing Entomophagy in Switzerland

A recent research project invited three groups of people to attend focus groups to discuss the barriers and supporting enablers to eating insects in the West.  The full results of this research will be shared in a later post but one of the most significant barriers that was revealed was a lack of information.  To enable us to accept a new food, we need information about what it tastes like, how to prepare it, how to eat it, which other foods we might want to eat it with, what the nutritional value is and any other information that might motivate us to purchase and consume an unfamiliar food.

Food choice is a very complex process and often involves the following elements and more
  • Emotions
  • Finances
  • Culture
  • Convenience
  • Family norms
  • Context
  • Taste and texture preference
...and many more
food choice

The range of information needed to inform consumers is vast and when we are talking about a food such as insects which has not been in our culture since hunter/gatherer times, the information might need to be that much more informative and motivating to persuade us! The type of information that we see are adverts, product labels, supermarket promotions, blogs and websites.  All of which inform consumers to help them make a decision on their weekly shop.

The common denominator amongst these information channels is the government who ensure that the information meets a certain standard.  The government play a large part in agreeing policies and regulations that officially inform consumers about food safety, content and production which in turn allows the consumer to make a trusting and informed decision.


Some organisations in this exciting entomophagy movement are being founded to simply inform policy makers and consumers about the benefits of edible insects and the potential of them as a future food.  Grimiam, an organisation in Switzerland, was founded in 2013 for that very reason.  They are calling on Swiss policy makers and legislators for the development of a voluntary code of contact and a new legislative framework that accepts animals as food for human consumption! Grimiam have held a number of exhibitions, conferences, debates, info-booths, workshops, tasting sessions and produced publications and films around this subject.  They have influenced the launch of three inquiries to the Swiss Federal council.

For something to be really successful, work needs to be done from the bottom up and top down and a combination of innovative organisations and government decisions will help the edible insect movement move in the right direction!

Grimiam have certainly made some exciting waves in the entomophagy world in Switzerland.  In fact, the Swiss federal food safety and veterinary office (BLV) announced on 22nd of June 2015 that they back the sale of crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms as part of a planned revision of Switzerland’s law governing foodstuff.  That means that insects could be legally for sale in Swiss supermarkets starting next year. The BLV has initially limited the type of insects approved to the three most widely known and these have been trialed at small pilot events.

Grimiam events

Grimiam working to inform the government has not only advanced entomophagy in Switzerland but the transparency of information about edible insects will become accessible to consumers and in turn, consumers can start to feel happy and safe to buy insects as part of their weekly shop.


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