One of the conundrums many modern humans find themselves in when it comes to responsible eating is how to move forward without giving up our delicious creature comforts—namely, burgers and ice cream. Because both are derived chiefly from cows, which require mass amounts of valuable water and give off harmful greenhouse gases in return, these beloved indulgences present strains on the environment that need to be considered regardless of your position on animal welfare.
The meat industry has answered with numerous plant-based alternatives that resemble beef, griddle sizzle and all. But dairy-free ice cream options mainly rely on nuts, which are not only expensive but lack the types of nutritional fats that whole milk contains. It was for these reasons that South African product designer Leah Bessa decided to co-found Gourmet Grubb, a new Cape Town-based company making lactose-free ice cream from protein-rich, insect-based entomilk.
The products are not yet ready for market, but Bessa was on hand at the city’s Design Indaba conference in the Emerging Creatives section with her trio of flavors—peanut butter, chocolate and chai—specifically to let people have a taste and expand their understanding of entomophagy. She told us they use locally raised black soldier fly larvae to further increase the sustainability factor while adding nutritional value; it turns out these little protein-packed worms are also high in minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.
We sampled all three, and not only did the naturally creamy texture feel like “normal” ice cream on the palate, but the flavors had no trace of what one might imagine insects taste like either. Bessa attempted to ensure no one tried it without understanding its contents, but in the frenzy of free ice cream a few people consumed a spoonful before knowing what they were eating and all seemed pleasantly surprised.
With the reality of Cape Town’s water crisis at the top of everyone’s minds, ice cream made from worms didn’t feel like food from the future, but instead a delicacy we must embrace and refine.
Hero image courtesy of Gourmet Grubb, all others by Cool Hunting