Adam Banks - Insects as Food: Opportunities and challenges to farming insects for human consumption in the UK
I grew up in Nottinghamshire on a family run arable farm and went on to study Environmental Science at Nottingham University. Leaving university, I took up a position as an agricultural loss adjuster, dealing with a wide range of commercial insurance claims across the UK.
I have always had a keen interest in travel and so when the opportunity arose to work as an international adjuster based out of Mexico City arose my girlfriend and I leapt at the chance. With neither of us speaking much Spanish, the learning curve was a steep one but we quickly became accustomed to the differences in language and culture and soon felt quite at home. Having spent some time in Mexico we moved to set up a new office in Lima and spent most of our free time exploring Peru and its neighbouring South American countries.
After some years abroad we were keen to ‘settle down’ and decided to move back to the UK. Although before doing so we decided to dust off our tent and go for an adventure on our tandem bicycle. After passing through 16 countries, covering 5,000 miles and truly testing the strength of our relationship we arrived home and are now settled in the village of Scopwick, Lincolnshire.
I came back looking for a new challenge, away from loss adjusting, and was keen to return to farming. My family had moved from Nottinghamshire to Lincolnshire, resulting in the restructuring of the original farming business. This change in circumstances meant that starting a new enterprise away from arable farming seemed my best option.
I have always had an interest in insects and opted to take entomology modules as part of my course at Nottingham. That said it wasn’t until I got to Mexico; where I enjoyed toasted chapulines, tacos full of escamoles, and gusanos in my tequila, that I saw the significant role insects could play in people’s diets. Looking back, the idea of farming insects for food probably grew from there.
I am now running Instar Farming, a new enterprise rearing crickets for human consumption. Insect farming is a relatively new industry and there is very little information available to help prospective new entrants to the sector. This motivated my Nuffield Scholarship study, Insects as Food: opportunities and challenges to farming insects for human consumption in the UK, which, I hope, will provide a useful resource to those interested in this emerging industry. I am very grateful to the The Food Chain Scholarship Fund for making my scholarship possible.