Insects as Food in the Global North – The Evolution of the Entomophagy Movement

  • Charlotte PayneEmail author
  • Rudy Caparros Megido
  • Darja Dobermann
  • Francis Frédéric
  • Marianne Shockley
  • Giovanni Sogari


The last decade has seen a surge of interest and investment in insects as food and feed. Has the Global North ever before given a novel and neglected food group so much attention? In this chapter we describe how and why multiple sectors - academia, media, industry - have begun to popularise and call for a resurgence in the use of insects as food in Europe and the US, despite tenacious taboos.

We begin with an overview of the history of insect consumption in the Global North; indigenous peoples in regions of both the US and Europe have traditionally consumed insects in some form, but this has diminished, disappeared or even been actively suppressed in recent history.

We describe the beginnings of an active interest in rediscovering insect consumption, beginning with a handful of entomologists who saw the potential of insects as an alternative to meat for reasons of taste, nutrition and environmental impact.

These ideas truly reached the mainstream in 2013 when the FAO published a paper on edible insects. This was immediately picked up by the world’s media, by scientists, and by multiple entrepreneurs.

Since then, the entomophagy movement has gathered pace. Insects have been hailed as a ‘superfood’, are widely available to buy online and are increasingly found on the shelves of some retail outlets.

In this chapter we recount this recent historical trajectory. In doing so we also discuss the shifts in societal attitudes towards insects as food, critical gaps in research, and market opportunities for current and future entrepreneurs in the field.


Edible insects Entomophagy Europe US Food history Entrepreneurship 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Payne
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rudy Caparros Megido
    • 2
  • Darja Dobermann
    • 3
  • Francis Frédéric
    • 2
  • Marianne Shockley
    • 4
  • Giovanni Sogari
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Functional and Evolutionary Entomology, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech – University of LiègeGemblouxBelgium
  3. 3.Rothamsted ResearchHarpendenUK
  4. 4.UGA Department of EntomologyGA University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  5. 5.Department of Food and DrugUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  6. 6.Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and ManagementCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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