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From Foe to Food: Entomophagy and the adoption of edible insects


From Foe to Food: Entomophagy and the adoption of edible insects

Shine, Laura ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6033-4246 (2020) From Foe to Food: Entomophagy and the adoption of edible insects. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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By 2050, the planet’s population could reach 10 billion. To address potential food insecurity, entomophagy – eating insects – has been promoted as a promising alternative to livestock rearing. In many cultures of the world, small invertebrates are already an important part of the human diet. European, Canadian and American populations, however, generally express an extremely strong negative reaction to the idea of eating insects.

To overcome this, advocates have developed a rational-based argumentation hinging on insects’ purported sustainability, nutritional profile, or potential role in assuring food security. Such approaches have achieved fairly limited success among the general public. Consequently, some proponents now focus chiefly on sensory appreciation to increase insects’ appeal. Problematically, both strategies overlook the diversity of social and environmental pressures that contribute to driving food choice.

Using an interdisciplinary developmentalist theoretical framework that incorporates conceptual and methodological tools from Food Anthropology, Food Marketing, and Sensory Studies, I map out the emergent industry in Québec and analyze the different strategies mobilized to mitigate avoidance behaviour. Based on participant observation and interviews with producers, promoters, researchers and consumers, I investigate how culturally-constructed negative reactions to unusual foods can evolve and adapt. I first examine some of the cultural tropes that portray insects as dangerous, dirty and disgusting, and how this correlates with notions of risk in food consumption, disgust, and the perceived “alien-ness” of insects. I then critique some of the prevailing discourses around edible insect promotion, both from rational- and sensory-based perspectives, showing how both coalesce around the concept of acceptability. Finally, I analyze some of the current directions within the Québec edible insect industry and examine some of the prevalent challenges and opportunities within the field, before providing implementable takeaways for firms. I ensconce these localized findings within the larger cultural context of the development of entomophagy among European-derived populations with little or no recent history of consumption, shedding light on wider dynamics of food acceptance and reject, on matters of acceptability, and on the general mechanisms that allow these to evolve and adapt over time.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Shine, Laura
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:17 September 2020
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jourdan, Christine and Le Bel, Jordan and Howes, David
ID Code:987721
Deposited By: LAURA SHINE
Deposited On:29 Jun 2021 20:44
Last Modified:29 Jun 2021 20:44
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