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I continue to be surprised by the well meaning academics who have through the decades tried to engineer foods that are more nutritious or high yielding but which are not aligned with what the people consider as food!

You can’t create a super high yielding variety of grain and expect everyone to start growing it. There won’t be any buyers and the farmers who grow it will suffer from low sale prices and no market. This will always be the case if the grain is not seen as tasty or attractive or friendly to the current tastes and kitchens of consumers.

I hear stories about rice, engineered to be rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene. We are told that this rice will eliminate vitamin A deficiency and will revolutionise that aspect of nutrition for a big population! I don’t agree at all. The rice is yellow in color! Very few people are going to eat it. It does not look like rice. Rice is white and when semi polished, is red tinted. Rice is not yellow.

Similarly, I hear stories of naturally fortified vegetables, fruit and so much more. In my opinion, most of those experiments are simply not going to work. People do not change their food habits easily and you can’t make them.

I am similarly not at all optimistic about vegan friendly meat becoming a mass product. It’s a niche product. It does not work for people who have always been vegans and vegetarians because they have no desire to eat anything that’s supposed to taste like meat. The people who eat meat will not want to eat a meat substitute – there is no incentive to do so. The product is restricted to a market of experimenters who are trying a new and novel food or to meat eaters who have decided to become vegetarian and crave the taste of meat.

Here is my opinion for these people. Insect protein, whether processed to be unlike insects or not, will not have acceptance from consumers who do not eat insects. It’s simply not going to happen.

Our best bet is to enhance the productivity and nutrition of what people like. There is no great future for new food types or engineered foods that are alien to the tastes and food cultures of people

Here is the link that got me on this rant. It’s something about insect protein – https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/food-wine/eating-insects-worms-tasty-healthy-5362012/

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