Beatle in the Box

Sophie Wright in LensCulture:

The thought of adding crickets to a summer gazpacho or making your tacos out of honey bee moths is likely to make the majority of us squirm. But faced with a future of growing food scarcity, insects may soon become a kitchen staple; a regular ingredient in our everyday cooking. In Beatle in the box, Italian photographers Michela Benaglia and Emanuela Colombo combine various genres such as still life and food photography in a bid to normalize this fact visually. Rich with proteins, vitamins, carbs, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and other micronutrients, bugs and beasties have a low environmental-impact as food. They are small, meaning they cause less greenhouse gasses which is an important factor in livestock farming, and they can also be bred easily with few resources. In short, they might be the food of our future. The photographers propose a handy comparison: the growth and spread of sushi through the West in the 1990s—first as a trend, then as a food business.

In this interview with Sophie Wright for LensCulture, the pair discuss the benefits of eating bugs, the process of insect studio photography and their favorite recipe.

Sophie Wright: How would you describe the key concerns that drive your photography practice? And did Beatle in the box grow out of any existing interests or does it mark a departure from your previous work?

Michela Benaglia & Emanuela Colombo: As documentary photographers we usually work on various current issues that capture our interest and have not yet been explored. Beatle in the box is not an exception: we usually work as reportage photographers, but for this theme the studio photography seemed to us the most effective.

SW: How did your interest in the topic first arise?

MB & EC: We discovered a new law that, starting in 2018, ‘Novel Food’ will enter into force facilitating the sale and the supply of insects within the European Union, bringing all member states on a par with Holland and Belgium where insect-based products have already been for sale in supermarkets for a long time.

More here. (Note: In honor of the first course made up of ants, worms, crickets, scorpions and tiny lobsters my daughter Sheherzad and I enjoyed in Tulum, Mexico, last week)