For many people, the phrase “school dinner” conjures up images of a custard custard, a cornflake tart or the ubiquitous sponge topped with hundreds and thousands.
But eco-conscious pupils at one of the country’s most renowned private girls’ schools will be able to sample more exotic fare such as worms, crickets and wrens as part of a trial menu.
North London Collegiate School (NLCS), which charges £20,000 a year, is experimenting with dishes such as Chinese-style noodles with teriyaki grasshopper, sweet chilli and lime crickets and Mexican rice with buffalo worms as part of the movement in a more sustainable direction. catering.
The trial menu will last a few weeks, but could be rolled out permanently if popular.
It is part of a movement voted on by students to ensure that school menus are more environmentally friendly.
Dame Esther Rantzen – who once asked London Zoo if she could let a rooster peck at her face in preparation for an I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here bug eating challenge! – is an alumna.
A mostly vegetarian menu is already available, with two-thirds of the dishes being meat-free, and each form has an eco-representative who reports on the students’ ideas to make school life greener.
NLCS is a founding member of the London School Eco Network, where schools across London collaborate on national green initiatives, such as the Youth Climate Summit.
With exam season approaching, school dinners included healthy desserts such as chocolate brownies made with beetroot, courgette cake with lemon drizzle, and energy balls made from oats and raisins.
Guy Kaye, general manager of catering at NCLS, said: “We are committed to driving sustainability without compromising the satisfaction of the pupils we serve.
“The girls have been driving the change, and they are very happy to try new things that are better for the world, even if that includes trying edible insects that are very common in other parts of the word and a sustainable source fibers. .”
Farming insects causes significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional meat farming, with insects emitting 75 percent less carbon than poultry farms.
Insects are also widely eaten around the world, and many countries, such as Korea, Tanzania and Mexico, consider them delicate.
This Morning presenter and former pupil of the school, Alice Beer, told the Telegraph: “I’m sure north Londoners will make dietary decisions that balance their ethical, moral and sustainable beliefs.
“I personally wouldn’t eat anything on that menu. I would probably prefer insects to cows.
“It would be the catering staff that would have to adapt though. In my day the white women treated one or two vegetarians a year that they were a little sad.”
The insects were sourced from the UK by the Souschef website, which described its insect products as having a “nutty” taste and suggested they could be used in recipes such as “insect pasta” or that cricket flour could be added to cakes and on the. for consumers feeling too squeamish to try a whole one.
Souschef admitted his products are expensive, with a 15g bag of Peri Peri Roast Cricket costing £2.90.
However, he added that since farming insects for human consumption was new, many of the processes were “labour intensive” and “not yet streamlined for maximum efficiency”.
The company also attributed the high costs to low demand, because “eating insects is still not very popular in Western culture”.
However, the unusual ingredients may have some unexpected health benefits, as well as being more environmentally sustainable than meat products.
A 2019 study by the University of Teramo in Italy found that grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets had several times the concentration of antioxidants found in orange juice.