Everything you always wanted to know about insects.

Insects in the kitchen

Are insects approved as food products?

Yes. In Switzerland, three insect species are currently approved to be sold as food since 1st May 2017. These three insect species are Tenebrio molitor (mealworm), Locusta migratoria (migratory locust) and Acheta domesticus (house cricket).

Which part of the insect are edible?

In general, the entire insects are edible. An exception is the locusta (grasshopper), as it is recommended to remove the large hind legs (due to the barbs) and the wings (since they can stick to the palate). However, these parts can still be used if they are ground or fried. Further information is available on our blog.

Where can I buy insect food?

You can order freeze-dried insects, Essento bars and other products in our Essento shop. Frozen insects are available through farmy.ch. Go to our shop and restaurant finder to see at a glance where our Essento Insect Burger, Essento Insect Balls and Essento Insect Bars are available. Information about what to consider when shopping and preparing entire insects is provided on our blog.

How much do insects cost?

The answer to this question depends on the processing (frozen/dried) and the species (Tenebrio/Acheta/Locusta). The prices are in general comparable to meat, with Locusta being considered to be the ‘entrecote’ of insects.

Is it possible to collect insects in the garden and prepare them afterwards?

We discourage from regularly eating insects that are not from a breeding farm, which is controlled and certified as a food producer. Wild insects can accumulate heavy metals, which can lead to health issues if you eat them. Please don’t collect and consume any insects, which are on the red list of the Swiss federal government.

Are insects considered as vegetarian or even vegan?

Insects are living creatures, just like humans and plants. More specific they are animals. We know from people, who complement their vegetarian diet with insects. However, this is a personal choice.

Health

Are there any health risks when eating insects?

For the three insect species, which are approved today, there are no known zoonosis. Zoonosis are diseases or infections, which can be transferred between vertebrates and humans. Insects have a well-developed immune system. Therefore, the farms we work with don’t need to use any antibiotics or medicine to keep the insects healthy.

Are there known insect allergies?

Insects have a similar biological structure like crustaceans. Therefore, people with allergies to crustaceans can have an allergic reaction to insects as well. The same is true for people with a dust mite allergy.

Are insects gluten-free?

Insects can contain traces of gluten, which depends on the feed they eat.

Sustainability

Why should I eat insects? Plants are more sustainable anyway?

We consider insects to be a good supplement to a plant-based diet due to their nutritional value. Insects offer a wide and high-quality range of proteins as well as minerals and provide vitamin B12 in its natural form.

How does Essento contribute to a more sustainable society?

Edible insects are a sustainable alternative to meat. Breeding insects emits a smaller amount of greenhouse gases, insects require less water and less feed compared to conventional meat production. They can even be fed with side products from other food processes, which is why their feed is not in competition with human food production. Furthermore, 80%-100% of the insect is edible, whereas only 40% of a cow is processed into food.

Our insects are sourced from the EU and Switzerland. We work towards increasing the share of Swiss insects to minimise transport. We have high demands regarding the quality and sustainability aspects for all our products. We exclusively use insects from species-appropriate and controlled breeding farms and carefully select our natural and honest ingredients. We are involved in the local value chain wherever possible, which is why it isn’t by chance that all our delicacies are produced by us in Zurich.

Essento Products

Which products does Essento offer?

Our range of products contains both entire insects as well as refined products. We let our consumers decide how they want to take their first steps into the world of delicious insects. You can buy frozen or freeze-dried insects, which are available whole, ground or processed into a snack. Also, we produce the tasty Essento Burgers and Essento Balls with Tenebrio (mealworms) and our fruity Essento Bar with cricket flour in our facilities in Zurich. You can buy our delicacies here.

How does Essento guarantee the food safety and quality of the products?

All our delicacies are produced following the same strict food safety requirements and are controlled by the food authorities just like any other food products. Our company and our facilities are the first ones in Switzerland, which got the approval to process insects as food.

Clear guidelines were developed for breeding insects as food. The welfare of insects is an important topic to us, which is why we are in conversation with the Swiss animal protection organization. We progress on this path to consider the different perspectives.

Additionally, we are a founding member of IGILS (interest group for insects as food in Switzerland), which is an association, that promotes further research on edible insects.

How has the price of insects developed?

The amount of the European-wide consumption of insects is still low compared to the consumption of conventional meat, which keeps the prices high. What needs to happen to increase the consumption of insects? We have asked you and we are listening: For many people it is important that the prices of insects are lower in order to encourage them to eat insects on a more regular basis. After a year of hard work, we are finally able to offer insects at a lower price since 2018 – hooray!

We pay close attention to also offer fair conditions to the insect farmers, whilst maintaining high demands with regards to the quality and sustainability of our products. Therefore, we pay a surcharge to our suppliers to provide you with the best and most delicious insect-based products. All our delicacies are hand-made by us in Zurich.

Willingness to eat insects

Why are people more put off by eating an entire cricket than a piece of pork?

Today, our meat consumption appears to be very disconnected from the breeding and meat production. We only see the packaged steak or filet in the supermarket, but we don’t see the complete process from the breeding to the slaughtering to the final product on the shelves. When you eat insects unprocessed, you see the entire animal on your plate and you have a higher awareness of the animal, not just the meat. Therefore, it is easier for most people to eat products, where the insects are processed, like in our Essento Burger, Essento Balls or the fruity Essento Bar.

Where does this disgust come from, when people think about eating insects?

Our society and the education are responsible for many people experiencing insects as something disgusting. This phenomenon can be seen particularly in Western cultures. In most other countries, insects are considered a common food and don’t have any negative connotations. The same was true in Europe until the industrialization of agriculture.

Our team has also had to be convinced but once you have tried it, the taste will persuade you. We can tell you it’s totally worth it!

Future

How do you estimate the likelihood of additional insect species being legalized as food in Switzerland?

There are other insect species that would be interesting from a nutrition and taste perspective. We see bee drone larvae as the next insect species, which could be legalized in Switzerland. Instead of treating them as a waste product of bee keeping, they could be valuable as a novel food.

How could the future of entomophagy (insect eating) look like? What is the vision of Essento?

We want to establish insects as a food in Western societies in order to enrich the nutrition while making it more sustainable.

Insect breeding & animal welfare

Where do you source your insects from?

Our insects are sourced from countries in the European Union as well as from Switzerland. We cooperate closely with a few breeders, who are specialized in breeding insects for food and we maintain a regular contact with our partners.

What do the insects get to eat?

Breeding farms feed insects with by-products from other food productions. Therefore, insect feed is not in competition with human food production. Examples of the by-products used as insect feed are the vast amounts of wheat bran, which result from grain production, or old vegetables and fruit, which are no longer considered for human consumption.

Do insects feel pain? How are they killed?

The respectful treatment of all animals, which includes insects, is very crucial for us. The question regarding their sensation of pain is not yet completely answered by neuroscience. There are first indications that insects don’t have any sensation of pain as we know it.

Their characteristic of lapsing into torpor at low temperatures is used to dispatch them in a humane way. This means insects are being frozen and as soon as the temperature decreases enough, the organism dies. We are in exchange with the Swiss animal protection organization in order to ensure the species-appropriate breeding and dispatching of the insects.

How does Essento guarantee that the insects come from a species-appropriate breeding farm?

Clear guidelines were developed for breeding insects as food. The welfare of insects is an important topic to us, which is why we are in conversation with the Swiss animal protection organization. We progress on this path to consider the different perspectives.

Additionally, we are a founding member of IGILS (interest group for insects as food in Switzerland), which is an association, that promotes further research on edible insects.

Do insects have any infectious diseases, which are transmissible to humans?

For the three insect species, which are approved today, there are no known zoonosis. Zoonosis are diseases or infections, which can be transferred between vertebrates and humans. Insects have a well-developed immune system. Therefore, the farms we work with don’t need to use any antibiotics or medicine to keep the insects healthy.

Critisism

At a global level, a drastic insect extinction is observed, which has terrible consequences for the environment and the planet. Therefore, why should we still eat insects?

This is one of the reasons, why we discourage eating wild insects. We source insects only from breeding farms that are certified and have a closed system, which is why the insects are not connected to a wild ecosystem. Further, we are convinced that the consumption of bred insects increases the awareness of the important role these small creatures play.

Why are insects so expensive? Aren’t they supposed to be way cheaper than conventional meat?

Currently the prices for insects are high as they are a new food in Western societies. The amount of European-wide consumption of insects is still low compared to the consumption of conventional meat, which keeps the prices high. It is estimated that, in time, insects will be cheaper than conventional meat particular since their breeding requires far less resources.

We pay close attention to also offer fair conditions to the insect farmers, whilst maintaining high demands with regards to the quality and sustainability of our products. Therefore, we pay a surcharge to our suppliers to provide you with the best and most delicious insect-based products. All our delicacies are hand-made by us in Zurich.

Cooking insects yourself?

You can buy in our Shop insects as well our cookbook „Grillen, Heuschrecken & Co„ (available in German). Enjoy your meal!

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