Polish politicians are leveraging culinary entomophobia to garner votes in upcoming elections.
At a March 3rd press conference, conservative lawmaker, Bartosz Kownacki of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), alleged that the main opposition Civic Platform’s (PO) ‘real’ goal, should it get into government after elections later this year, is to put bugs on Poles’ plates.
“For the upcoming elections, PO politicians should write on each poster ‘Instead of chicken eat a worm’ because this is their real election programme,” Kownacki said.
During the televised press conference, the state-run broadcaster TVP Info ran a news ticker stating, “the opposition’s proposals for Poles: worms instead of meat,” Reuters reported.
Reuters also reports that TVP Info has repeatedly featured the topic of edible bugs since it was announced that Warsaw, whose mayor is a leading member of the opposition party PO, is part of a C40 Cities Initiative project to demonstrate “the role of cities in responding to the climate, energy, and cost of living crises.” The mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, has been a member of the environmental coalition of 40 cities around the world since 2007, and on the same day as the press conference, the C40 Cities Initiative announced the publication of The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World. The study recommends reducing meat consumption to zero, though it makes no mention of replacing meat with edible insects.
Simultaneously, according to Reuters, Polish media had been reporting that the National Centre for Research and Development had funded a project called SmartFood, which included the rearing of edible insects, with 6.5 million zlotys ($1.47 million).
The SmartFood project is a collaboration between Norwegian and Polish universities and its goals include getting volunteers to grow edible insects in their city apartments.
Referring to the media reports, PO leader Donald Tusk threw his own allegations at the government last Friday, calling it a “promoter of worm soup.” Tusk also addressed PiS accusations against his own party.
“It is a bit humiliating for everyone that the media and politicians have been wondering for several days whether Mayor Trzaskowski really wants to force Poles to eat worms, not meat,” Tusk also said on March 3rd.
Reuters reports that according to the state-run news agency PAP, Poland’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy has distanced itself from the project, saying SmartFood is not a government programme and is mainly funded by Norway.
The issue of edible bugs has entered the spotlight since the EU recently gave approval for food ingredients derived from house crickets and beetle larvae as part of the Brussels ‘sustainability’ program. Euractiv reports that the topic has reverberated in other European capitals, as well, from Budapest to Rome to Sofia, with conservative politicians questioning the push to include edible insects in the European diet.