IKEA Is Working On Mealworm Meatballs And Bug Burgers For A Very Good Reason

"Feeling bugged out? Then you probably don’t want to know what’s really in your beef burger, chicken nugget or pork sausage …"

IKEA is thinking a lot about the future of food — and it involves insects, algae, and microgreens. Its innovation lab Space10 recently reimagined five classic dishes to be healthy, sustainable, and delicious. 

"To change people's minds about food, to inspire them to try new ingredients, we can't just appeal to the intellect — we have to titillate their taste buds," Space10 wore on Medium. "Which is why we've been working with our chef-in-residence to come up with dishes that look good, taste good, and are good for people and planet."

One of their new dishes is called the Dogless Hotdog. It's a veggie "dog" made up of dried and glazed carrots, onions, cucumber, herbs, beet and berry ketchup, and a mustard and turmeric cream. But it's the bun that's worthy of a headline here. It's bright green and made of a micro-algae called spirulina. 

According to Space10, spirulina "contains more beta carotene than carrots, more chlorophyll than wheatgrass, and 50 times more iron than spinach." It's also got more protein than a "real" hotdog.

They also created the Bug Burger whose patty is made up of beetroot, parsnip, potatoes, and mealworms. It's got a white-flour bun, and is topped with relish, beetroot and blackcurrant ketchup, chive spread, and a hydroponic salad mix.

The photos of mealworms, or the larval form of a darkling beetle, being ground up into the patty may not look all that appetizing, but think about all the other meat available to you. "Feeling bugged out? Then you probably don't want to know what's really in your beef burger, chicken nugget or pork sausage…" Space10 wrote. And, unlike those options, mealworms are both sustainable and nutritious. 

Raising livestock is an intensive ecological endeavor. It requires lots of water, feed, and land. Too often, it's inhumane with poor living conditions for animals and the use of antibiotics. The UN estimates that livestock production accounts for roughly 15 percent of green house gas emissions worldwide per year.

Insects, on the other hand, are harvested humanely. They already naturally live and grow in close quarters. They need much less land and produce much less carbon dioxide than mammals. Many are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Mealworms specifically are very high in protein and contain essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamin B5. 

If that doesn't have you curious about eating bugs, it's estimated that over two billion people around the world currently eat insects as part of their diet. The U.S. is late to the party. 

Space10 has also experimented with giving IKEA's famous meatballs a makeover. Their "Neatball" is also made with mealworms, and are served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry sauce. 

"Our latest take on the IKEA meatball, the Neatball, is designed to get people thinking about reducing their meat consumption, using local produce and trying alternative proteins," Space10 wrote on Medium. 

In addition to the three dishes, Space10 developed a "LOKAL Salad," made of microgreens grown in a basement using nutrient-rich water without any soil, a "Microgreen Ice Cream" made of the same microgreens that comes in fennel, coriander, basil, mint, or a combination of flavors, and their own take on a popsicle, which is made with hydroponically-grown "woodruff, coriander, Spanish chervil and sorrel."

If insects still don't sound like your thing, you might not want to knock it until you try it. Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that foods like lobster, sushi, oysters, chicken wings, caviar, and more weren't widely accepted.  


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