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By SHELLEY TOPP

Locusts are the newest item on the menu at Rangiora’s Fools of Desire Cafe.

Eating locusts for lunch, even with fresh salad greens, chilli salt and lemon, is not likely to appeal to many people, but the protein-packed insects are the food of the future, a North Canterbury biological scientist believes.

Peter Randrup, the co-founder of Anteater, New Zealand’s supplier of edible insects, says there are huge environmental and health benefits in eating insects.

His company also sells lemon grass ants and huhu grubs as food options.

Lunch time . . . Natasha Ackroyd considers the option of a New Zealand locust for lunch at Rangiora’s Fools of Desire Cafe in Conway Lane. Photo: Shelley Topp

The cafe’s owners, Fernside couple Elisa Leach and Karl Horwarth, say they wanted to add locusts to the cafe’s menu to create discussion and thought about what we are eating and how to benefit the environment. Elisa describes it as a wild salad.

The couple want to create awareness about global food security and food sustainability.

“Current practices have a huge impact on the environment,” she says. “There are major environmental and health benefits to eating insects, and there is a very real possibility that they will play a major role in the future of protein production.”

While it is fair to say that the cafe’s “wild food salad option” is not proving an instant hit with customers, one who has tried the New Zealand locust dish gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

“They are really tasty,” Rob Acutt says. “I have eaten stag beetles, scorpions and tarantulas at the Wildfoods Festival (in Hokitika) which are pretty putrid, but this is really nice.”

Others have compared eating locusts to freshwater prawns with a mild buttery taste.