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incr-edible insect chefs around the world: marcus leach

July 29, 2015

Introduction to marcus leach

My name is Marcus and I have loved food, cooking and eating for as long as I can remember. My focus is very much on healthy eating, but that’s not to say the food I cook is void of flavour or imagination, far from it in fact. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, as many people can often believe, so long as you have a little imagination and creativity.

A few years back I undertook a body transformation that took me from 24{e22e6aedff5e38d91c0a19c95f1b1c60988eef15dbec6ba65a655bbe267d2fba} body fat down to 8{e22e6aedff5e38d91c0a19c95f1b1c60988eef15dbec6ba65a655bbe267d2fba}, and in doing so I proved that most dishes can be made in a healthy way. Since then I have gone on to develop a series of recipes that are, as I like to say, nutritious and delicious. My approach to food very much fits in with the healthy and active lifestyle I now lead and I believe the two go hand-in-hand.

marcus leach

 

How long have you been eating/cooking bugs for?

I have been eating insects on and off for about six years now. However, it is only over the past six months that I have began to cook with them on a regular basis.

Tell us about your first insect experience and what got you so hooked?

The first time I ever ate insects was whilst travelling through Africa. I was wandering through a local market in Zambia looking at all manner of wonderful produce, trying to decide what to cook for my dinner that night, when one lady and her wares caught my eye. A big, bubbly African woman, dressed in a vibrant dress and with a beaming smile, sat with a basket of what looked like grubs in front of her.

It turned out she was selling caterpillars, or at least dehydrated caterpillars, and she was adamant I bought some to try. After chatting for a while and finding out how to cook them I figured I may as well give them a go and went on my way with more than enough for dinner. Back at my campsite I followed her instructions and cooked a rustic caterpillar stir fry, much to the horror of all of the other Western travellers staying there.

Do you have a favourite insect? Could you Describe the taste and how you like cooking it?

Of all the insects I have tried I would have to say grasshoppers are my favourite, with buffalo worms coming in a close second. For me the taste of grasshoppers is a rich and luxurious nutty flavour and it works so well in a number of dishes. That said keeping it simple is often the best way so I like to dry roast my grasshoppers after which they can be tossed in a little sesame oil and eaten straight away as a fantastic snack, or added to a lovely fresh vegetable stir fry with plenty of fresh chilli and coriander.

Are there any insects that you wouldn’t eat and why?

Not that I can think of. I think that once you are open to the idea of eating one type of insect then you will be willing to give any a try. Some might seem less appealing than others, but in essence eating insects is eating insects in my opinion.

What should we do as entomophagy enthusiasts to make eating insects more acceptable to Westerners?

The biggest problem in the Western world is, in my opinion, a matter of culture and mindset. We have grown up in a society where the ‘norm’ is beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish and turkey, and even then it’s always the same main cuts of meat neatly packaged for us in plastic boxes. While some people might eat the occasional piece of exotic meat, on the whole anything outside of those is seen as alien and weird. Yet to other people – the Chinese being a prime example – they think it’s strange that most people in the West don’t eat the chicken’s feet, as to them this is just another part of the animal for consumption and, thus, a part of their culture.

From my own experiences I have found people are much more receptive to trying insects when they are not so obviously eating insects, as odd as that might sound. By disguising what it is people are eating they are getting past one of the biggest mental barriers. I think we need to make eating insects more appealing from a culinary point of view, but more than that I think we need to educate people. As the world’s population rises, its available space for agriculture decreases, and with it the ability to meet the growing demands for protein from traditional sources. Therefore people need to be aware that their are alternative protein sources available, with insects being a prime example.

What’s your favourite insect fact?

I am fascinated by the complexity of honey bees and their colonies. For example worker bees may only live up to six weeks, whereas the queen bee can live up to five years.

What are your upcoming plans?

I am currently working on a healthy eating cookbook that will be published as an ebook later this year, which came about off the back of my body transformation, so am busy cooking and photographing the dishes for that at present. To follow the progress on that, as well as other recipes I am developing you can find me on Twitter (@MarcusLeachFood) and my Facebook page (Marcus Leach Food).

Away from food I undertake regular challenges aimed at pushing me to my physical and mental limits, many of which either involve the mountains or taking part in some of the world’s toughest bike rides.

And finally my wife and I are expecting our first child this year, so that will bring with it new adventures, but looking further ahead I have already started planning for next year’s adventures, both on the bike and in the mountains.

You can check also check our Marcus’ blog:  A Life Without Limits – www.marcusleach.co.uk