For many Capetonians, the answer is a surprising yes, according to local company Gourmet Grubb, a local company that is the first in the world to create ice cream made from insect larvae.
Before you choke on your breakfast, it’s important to note that there aren’t actual whole insects adding a creepy crawly crunch to the top of your chocolate swirl. They’re processed into a highly nutritious milk first, which is then made into ice cream.
Gourmet Grubb co-founder and product developer Leah Bessa said they created the ice cream to help consumers overcome the mental block of eating insects - which are nutrient-dense and environmentally friendly and could be the future of sustainable protein production.
“It’s a vehicle to break down barriers to eating insects, to demonstrate that insects don’t have to be this scary thing in your preconceived ideas,” Bessa said.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by people’s reactions.”
Bessa is a food scientist who did her Master's at Stellenbosch University, studying insects as a protein source, and is currently studying and researching for her PhD.
She has developed a dairy-free milk made from insects called EntoMilk, which is the base ingredient of Gourmet Grubb ice creams.
The insects used to create the milk are the larvae of Hermetia illucens, commonly known as the black soldier fly. They are farmed locally in Cape Town, but Bessa can’t reveal exactly how they turn insect larvae into milk.
“We’re protecting the process at the moment because we’re the first people in the world to create it,” she said.
EntoMilk packs a surprising nutritional punch: it’s way higher in protein than dairy milk, contains no carbohydrates and is rich in iron, zinc and calcium.
According to a study published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, the larvae contain 42% crude protein and 29% fat.
But the real shock value is in how much insect farming beats livestock for environmental friendliness.
“The efficiencies are astronomical,” Bessa said.
“Insects are about 12 times more efficient at converting their food into protein than cattle.”
In addition, insects produce almost no greenhouse gases, they consume very little water, the farming requires comparatively tiny amounts of land, they only take 10 to 18 days to grow, and they feed on waste.
“Vegetable matter, grains, stuff that would typically be discarded or given to pig feed, is being recycled by the larvae into high-quality protein,” Bessa said.
Farming insects also completely avoids the concerns over animal cruelty that surround livestock farming.
Insects can’t be domesticated, so the environment provided for them in the farms has to exactly recreate their optimum natural habitat in order to get them to grow and reproduce.
In a 100m2 farming space, scientists are currently able to get a yield of three tons per day, Bessa said, and unlike animals their entire body mass is eaten, with no wastage whatsoever.
In keeping with their health mission, the Gourmet Grubb ice cream recipe is not your usual sugar-filled, fat-packed treat. It’s made using just three ingredients: EntoMilk, raw honey, and natural flavouring. It comes in dark chocolate, peanut butter and chai latte.
“The flavour to me is really good,” Bessa said.
“No one to date has eaten it and said it’s disgusting and reminds them of insects.”
If you’re curious to try it, Gourmet Grubb ice cream is currently available at the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, or you can collect a tub of grub goodness at the offices in Paarden Eiland.