Ideas from Aarhus – Vol. II: “We want people to eat insects!”

“Enorm” means “enormous” in Danish, but the name is actually a clever pun – when pronounced with the right Aarhus-accent it sounds like you are saying “a worm”. The company’s products are on the shelves in many stores across the country – see: www.enormfood.com for more information about Enorm-events, and retailers near you.

Written by Emma Elisabeth Holtet

Roasted sour cream and onion flavoured mealworms, crispbread with an extra insect-crunch, a delicious snack-bar containing fruit, nuts, nougat and flour made from – yes, you guessed it – insects! Do any of these nutritious treats sound appealing?

While many people are familiar with the environmental advantages of insects as an alternative protein source, the idea of eating all kinds of creepy-crawlies is still a tough concept for most of us to swallow. This is, none the less, exactly what the Aarhus start-up “Enorm” want us to do, and while it sounds like a crazy idea, the growing company has already proved, that the concept has great promise.

Around a year ago, I first met the founder of Enorm, Lasse Hinrichsen, in a small container in the eclectic start-up community “Institute for X” at the back of Godsbanen. Here, he experimented with farming mealworms, while selling insect-snacks and touring the country promoting his cause.

Today, Lasse is sitting next to Sales Director and co-owner Jane Lind Sam at an incubator in Agro Food Park. It is clear, that the company has taken a big step, along with various investments, and that ambitions are high.

Across the carpark I can see the dairy-giant Arla’s new innovation centre and cannot help but wonder, if Enorm’s vision could one day become reality – will the mainstream western food industry also produce foods from mealworms, grasshoppers, flies and ants in the future?

If you ask Lasse and Jane, the answer is yes! This is their overall mission – to move the insect-eating experience from being a novelty to becoming a staple, sustainable part of our diets and thereby helping the environment.

“People react very differently when presented with the prospect of eating a mealworm,” says Jane, “There are some that find it exciting, some that find it off-putting, and then there are those that initially find it off-putting, but also find it exciting. These are the people that are the most fun for us to meet, because we can actually shift their way of thinking.”

“You have to change people’s mind set,” Lasse continues, “There’s only one way to do this, and that’s by spreading the message – hopefully it creates a ripple effect, and gradually it will not be a strange concept, but become normality.”

The benefits of choosing to sink your teeth into Enorms’ products include high levels of protein, great nutritional value and a low carbon footprint, and insects could therefore be a key factor in the quest to solve many of the environmental challenges facing the western food industry today.

However, one of the big obstacles with creating insect-based products is the cost of the animals themselves. Enorm currently imports mealworms from Holland, but their goal is to create a farm, right here in Denmark, in order to breed black soldier flies for human consumption. In addition to the fact that the production has a low environmental impact, the animals can live on organic waste from the food industry, adding yet another layer to Enorm’s green vision.

It is clear that both Lasse and Jane care greatly about their cause and that there is no shortage of ambition on behalf of their company, and only time will tell whether they will succeed in their mission to make insects a normal part of the western diet. To many people their goal probably seems far-fetched and I ask them both whether they ever have days where they just want to give up on it all – stop living the insecure life of an entrepreneur and get a nice, stabile job working for someone else? Their reaction is instant and synchronous – they both assure me that they never waver, not even for a second.

“You have to love it – if the work becomes a chore, then you should not be an entrepreneur,” Jane says.

I leave the interview feeling inspired – it is an exciting idea and vision that Enorm is fighting for, and Lasse and Jane’s enthusiasm is contagious.

Having said that, as I collect my bike from the carpark and start riding home I spot an earthworm squirming in the damp grass, and I have to admit to myself that I am relieved I was not offered any insect-snacks during the interview – it would have been hard to refuse.

Despite my personal qualms, when considering the environmental advantages, I really hope Enorm’s ambitions become reality.

Maybe in the future, western farming will become more sustainable because of people like Lasse and Jane, and their idea of edible-insect-products – and perhaps, that future is much closer than we think.

A young boy is eating a marshmallow and mealworms at Godsbanen’s Streetfood Festival earlier this month.

2017-09-03T14:58:46+00:00