“What’s for dinner?”
“Your favourite tonight; mealworm and mash.”
“Did you get those nice mealworms from Waitrose?”
“Better than that; these are our first crop of home-grown from the shoebox in the garage.”
Too far fetched? No, not according to Dr Jenny Josephs of Southampton University who gave a lecture on using mealworms as food at Café Scientifique this week. She is driven by the knowledge of the many starving and malnourished in the world and the need to increase our food supplies.
We all need protein in our diet and our favourite is steak from a bullock. To get it you must start with a cow in calf, raise the calf, feed and water him for 9 months or so before you can have your steak. It takes time, a field, 1000 l of water and perhaps supplementary food.
If you use mealworm for your protein, you can have your meal in 2-3 months. There is no need for a field and up to 1 l of water is derived from the vegetable foodstuff eaten by the worms. If you devoted your garage to breeding mealworm you could feed the neighbourhood. They are probably the most efficient way of producing protein food.
“What does it taste like?” Jenny provided us with samples. Cooked in Soy sauce, plain or flavoured with Cajun spices. I preferred the Soy flavour. The plain ones were bland. They are slightly chewy but could be fried to be crisp.
Mealworms are the larva stage of Tenebrio molitor which is a beetle. They are about an inch long and there are about 200 of them to one ounce.
They are already commercially produced as food for fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles.
“Mealworm and mash, good. I’m hungry but which wine shall we have? I think a spicy Gewrtztraminer white wine will go nicely.”