With Burger King experimenting with the introduction of the meatless whopper, it seems as if the idea of eating meat substitutes is finally catching on with the general public.
So maybe it’s not so strange that Abdul Hassaballah, fellow University at Buffalo graduate student Anish Ajay Kirtane, and Business Administration junior Olivia Burgner have come up with a meatless burger made partially out of… insects?
The three came up with the unusual burger formula as an entry (and entree) into UB’s World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC), and they ended up walking away with first place. According to a recent article written by Peter Murphy for the university’sDepartment of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, the sustainable beef alternative, called Numu, addresses three critical components of United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals – it addresses climate action, responsible consumption and production, and zero hunger.
The article refers to the aversion that most North Americans have when it comes to eating insects. At the same time, people all over the world have been eating insects, without much thought, for centuries.
The question is, what would it take to get someone that is accustomed to eating hamburgers, or even veggie burgers, to eat a mealworm burger? There is only eco-upside to eating the mealworm burger, including water and land conservation, and the vast reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the health benefits.
In order to show people that eating burgers that are made out of insects should be considered more normal than eating burgers made from cows, the students have been inviting people to attend a series of “bug banquets” to test out the creations. They have even found a notable mentor in the form of Zach Schneider from Ru’s Pierogi.
At this point, the group is looking at ways of increasing and scaling production. They plan on attending more competitions in the near future, considering the success that they have had thus far. They are also looking at ways to get the Numu burgers into restaurants. It will be interesting to see how that effort pans out.
Are there any restaurant owners out there looking for a new burger hook?
To learn more about the Numu burger, click here.
Lead image courtesy UB – From left to right: Anish Ajay Kitrane, Olivia Burgner, and Abdulrahman Hassaballah receiving first place in UB’s World Challenge Challenge