One sweet shop in Japan is on a mission to make insect-infused treats a food staple for future generations.
Kanna Osawa, who owns Torosha sweet shop in Maebashi, about 100 km northwest of Tokyo, wants to promote the potential of nutritious and environmentally friendly insects.
“I want our customers to eat insects and realize insects are an option for food, rather than to eat them (out of curiosity) just because they are insects,” the 25-year-old entrepreneur told the Washington Post.
Osawa, from Tokyo, grew up with a love of bugs despite living in the large metropolis. She was good at catching crickets and toads in her garden at home and at local parks.
After graduating from high school, Osawa got a job with a company that cleaned fish tanks.
When that didn’t pan out due to her aversion to commuting on crowded trains, she moved to Maebashi in 2017 where her boyfriend, Nobuhiro Honma, 26, lives.
She worked several jobs before the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. When stores began to close up shop, that was the spur for her to jump all in to start her own bug-based baked goods.
At first, Osawa thought of opening up a cafe with various insect specimens on display. But what pushed her to actually use bugs in her sweet treats was an exhibition on eating insects last fall that she attended.
Osawa then rented a tiny metal-roofed building and renovated the whole space herself. She purchased powdered crickets and used them as an ingredient in bread and other candied goods.
“I want to make (eating insects) so accessible they’ll be sold at a trendy goods store,” Osawa said.
Pound cakes and cookies are made by her boyfriend, and the store also stocks other goods from around Japan.
There’s also coffee that is infused with insects, along with accessories with insect motifs.
But for those who don’t want to munch on a bunch of insect-infused treats, the store also offers baked goods that do not use cricket powder.