Last week we (Nick and Sarah Rousseau) finally got to visit the fascinating Food Museum in Stowmarket to see the Meat the Future exhibition which includes a section on edible insects due to assistance from Sarah, and contributions from UKEIA members.
Entrance (and exit) is through the gift shop - and we’d hoped to find a wide range of insect-based products for sale…….but they’d almost sold out!! Obviously a good thing, but a shame that we only found a single bag of roasted crickets hidden amongst the many books on sustainable eating! They assured us that they were waiting for a restock and that the insect products had been very popular.
Since it was a lovely day we wandered around some of the other exhibitions and exhibits; lots of farm machinery, travellers’ vehicles, a number of historic buildings and lots of animals to meet too (although because we had the dogs with us we kept away!) - it’s a massive site and is definitely worth a visit if you’re over in East Anglia.
The Meat the Future exhibition is currently in the Bone Building; their main exhibition space. Meat the Future was originally curated by Oxford University and although it contained a lot of really good material about why we need to find more sustainable alternatives to meat….there was very little about edible insects - the main gallery (containing the original exhibition) has just a single panel.
When the exhibition was scheduled to move to the Food Museum the curators realised the need for more about edible insects, and Sarah volunteered to help put together some panels, displays and interviews to add to the exhibition.
As well as the exhibition space, the building also contains a demonstration kitchen where live cooking and events take place. The day we visited the tasting menu was exciting! Cricket Biscuits!!
Although it was nearly closing time, one of the demonstrators, Eva, agreed to a short interview and shared how it’s been going.
She explained that they do a number of demos every day with a lot of people attending (especially since it was the school holidays), and they always include the digestive biscuits with cricket flour and some flavoured whole crickets. These always get a lot of attention, and people must be enjoying them as the shop had sold out!
In the other side of this large room were a number of other exhibits, including panels focused on edible insects, and video and audio interviews with UKEIA members, (YumBug and Saved).
A cabinet full of examples of products (past and present) containing edible insects took pride of place in the middle of the room.
An interactive area challenged visitors to reflect on their food choices and how they are shaped by health, ethics, society and personal values - recipe cards gave suggestions for reducing meat in diets, including adding insects to stir-frys.
The whole museum is definitely worth a visit if you’re over that way, and the Meat the Future exhibition is running until early May 2024. UKEIA hope to collaborate with future exhibitions at the Food Museum, and obviously we’ll continue to look out for other opportunities to increase public awareness of edible insects in various ways.
On exiting the exhibition the museum provided cards for people to give their comments and thoughts - the day we were there we found some very encouraging comments…..of course we left our own too!!
All photographs © Sarah & Nick Rousseau