Insects as food in the Netherlands: Production networks and the geographies of edibility

Jonas House*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


A nascent subfield within food geographies research investigates edibility, or how things ‘become food’. In the context of efforts to create more sustainable foodways in Europe and the US (the ‘West’), this question is pertinent. One proposed contribution to these efforts is the Western adoption of insects as human food. Related scientific and commercial activity in the Netherlands has been prominent in this area. This paper draws on research with people involved in the development of a Dutch edible insect network, and with the production, supply and consumption of a range of insect-based foods. It explains how this network arose out of the interaction between heterogeneous, mutually-influential actors, and acts to delimit the ‘horizon of possibility’ for insect-based foods. The paper then presents a case study of a range of insect-based foods, arguing that the food products themselves, and their edibility, can similarly be understood as a network effect. Agency in both the design of foods and the construction of edibility is conceptualised as distributed, multiple and contingent. The paper also discusses the disjuncture between edibility (in principle) and routine consumption (in practice): new foods may be successfully positioned as ‘edible’ but this does not mean that people will eat them. Implications for debates on the conceptualization of edibility are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-93
Early online date7 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Consumer acceptance
  • Edibility
  • Edible insects
  • Entomophagy
  • Innovation
  • Novel food


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