A LOVE of sushi makes insects more appealing to eat, a Border academic has found.
Matthew Ruby, based at Wodonga's La Trobe University campus since June 2017, joined former US colleague Paul Rozin in examining the premise that eating sushi could make grasshoppers or ants attractive tucker.
"We thought raw fish would be a good proxy to the insects," Dr Ruby said.
The project involved 476 people responding to an online survey, 275 from the US and 201 from India.
The countries were chosen because they have large populations but contrasting diets with meat a focus in the US and vegetables to the fore in India.
It was found 82 per cent of Americans would consider eating insects and 80 per cent would consider consuming foods with whole insects, compared to 34 and 48 per cent of Indians respectively.
Dr Ruby said insects were commonly eaten in parts of Mexico, Thailand and China and there were ecological benefits to encouraging their consumption.
"Insects have been put forward as a way of addressing food security, especially where countries produce a lot of meat and it has an effect on the environment," Dr Ruby said.
Insects are considered to have high protein value and their size means they can be bred with much less farming land than traditional meat animals.
Asked if he could see an insect cafe joining other takeaway shops at a food court one day, Dr Ruby did not dismiss the idea.
"You very well may, 20 years ago if you asked somebody about sushi they would have laughed at you - that (a shop) is certainly possible," he said.
"If you asked 30 years if bottled water was going to take off I would say 'why would you pay for something that you get for free?' and now it's everywhere."
Dr Ruby, who hails from Maine on the US Atlantic coast and worked with Professor Rozin at the University of Pennsylvania, is undertaking more food research.
He is examining people's attitudes to foods such as cultured meat, Funky Fields mince, a vegan product sold by Woolworths and other plant-based forms.