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Making insects tick: responsibility, attentiveness and care in edible insect farming

Bear, Christopher 2021. Making insects tick: responsibility, attentiveness and care in edible insect farming. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4 (3) , pp. 1010-1030. 10.1177/2514848620945321

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Insects are increasingly promoted as a sustainable and nutritious source of protein, with ‘edible insect’ sectors emerging in many countries not traditionally associated with their consumption. A number of studies have examined the attitudes of potential consumers to eating insects but the understandings and practices of farmers have largely been ignored. This paper expands nature-societyscholarship’sengagement with the edible insect sector by investigating how farmers make sense of their responsibilitiesto insects through their everyday practices. Drawing on a qualitative study of the UK’s edible insect farmers, the paper contributes to wider ongoing debates within STS and animal studies around multispecies companionship involving apparently ‘awkward’ creatures, and around the relationship between ‘care’ and ‘ethical regard’ in more-than-human relations. Such debates are especially pertinent here, as insects have often been understood as lacking sentience and beyond moral considerability, resulting in their exclusion from animal welfare codes and regulation. Insect farmers are therefore faced with questions not only about how to care for their ‘mini livestock’ but also whether to care. Following an outline of the UK’s edible insect production sector, and framed by a discussion of literature on awkward creatures, attentiveness and practices of care, the paper reports on: (1) the relationship between sentience and farmers’ constructions of insects’ moral significance; (2) farmers’ motives for, and approaches to, becoming attentiveto their insects; and (3) how farmers respond to the actions of insects. It concludes by reflecting on the nature of attentiveness encountered in edible insect farming, arguing that it offers a promising yet unstable basis for the development of harmonious more-than-human relations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 2514-8486
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 3 July 2020
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 11:42

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