Science, Sushi and Insects with MetMUnch

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What happens when you combine students, sustainability, science, sushi and insects?  You get another groundbreaking event for Manchester Met’s student food network MetMUnch!

MetMUnch linked with the Museum of Science and Industry for Science In The City Late, the flagship event of Science In The City Week and part of Manchester’s year long European City of Science celebrations – and opened a one-night-only insect sushi bar in the museum.

Entomophagy – the practice of eating insects – has been growing in recent years as people look for a more sustainable alternative to meat. Insects are extremely high protein, readily available, and already eaten in more parts of the world than they aren’t. MetMUnch saw Science In The City Late as the perfect opportunity to introduce Manchester’s eager, culturally engaged public to a new delicacy.

Staff and students worked hard in the Man Met lab to hand-make nigiri and nori with buffalo worm, mealworm, cricket and grasshopper fillings. MetMUnch found the key factor putting people off insects was their appearance, so wrapping them in sushi was a great way to adjust their image.

And the hunch was right – visitors couldn’t wait to sample the artisanal arthropods.

One thousand people passed through the doors of the museum in just over three hours – and fourteen MetMUnchers engaged with every visitor to discuss the health and environmental benefits of crunching on some creepy crawly critters.

The aim of the night was to have visitors answer this question: What diet would you choose if we had a global food shortage? Options ranged from veganism to flexetarianism to eating insects, and every visitor deliberated hard before making their choice on MetMUnch’s survey boards.

There was lots of debate on which diets would have the most benefit to the environment, and what sacrifices people were willing to make for the good of the planet – showing sustainable food is already a big issue for the people of Manchester.

Manchester Science Festival Creative Producer Carole Keating said: “Thank you for an incredible event! The Insect Sushi Bar went down a storm – it looked fantastic (I loved the boats!), your students were brilliantly enthusiastic and knowledgeable, it really got people talking and there was such a great buzz about it overall – if you’ll excuse the pun!”

Click here to see a full Storify of this event: https://storify.com/MetMUnch/metmunch-insect-sushi-bar-at-museum-of-science-ind

Paul Kingsmore, Director of Services, said: “Our new strategic framework puts our partnerships and community engagements at the heart of Manchester Metropolitan University.

“The creative commitment of MetMUnch to ESOF16 and Manchester as the European City of Science has demonstrated how their multiplatform model for learning, teaching, research and outreach can attract, enhance and inspire the imagination of the public and our partners in Manchester and beyond.

“The broad expertise of MetMUnch in Sustainability Education as part of the University Environment Team, also enables our students to not only  become alert and empowered global citizens, but also future leaders in sustainability deployment and impact.”

MetMUnch will follow up the event with their research findings on people’s sustainability-influenced dietary choices, and whether insects could form one of the answers to global food shortages.

And Manchester’s overwhelming verdict on edible insect? “They’re alright, actually!”

You heard it here first – watch out for insects on a menu near you soon.