Thesis subject

MSc thesis: Investigating the Dutch market for invasive American crayfish as human food

Background information

In the context of climate change and increasing challenges to global food security, the topic of ‘alternative proteins’ has attracted considerable interest from academics, businesses and policymakers. While there has been a significant focus on producing new forms of protein (e.g. plant-based or insect-based products), less attention has been paid to potential foods which already exist but are currently underexploited. An example of this is the consumption of invasive species, such as the American crayfish (rivierkreeft) in the Netherlands. Advocates argue that eating this (and other species) can offer a source of protein while simultaneously addressing biodiversity issues. However, is this a realistic proposition? What factors might affect consumer acceptance of invasive species as food, or the development of new markets? Are there existing examples of where invasive species have been successfully positioned as food, and what factors are behind their success?

This thesis will aim to answer these and other questions. After reviewing relevant literatures (e.g. around invasive species, consumption of novel foods, questions of ‘edibility’), empirical work (e.g. interviews, observations) will be undertaken with key actors relating to the production, supply, promotion and consumption of American crayfish. The thesis will explain how novel or unusual things come to be positioned as ‘food’, illustrating the different actors and processes involved in making this happen. It will also shed light on how new food supply chains come to be developed, and how such activities relate to broader questions around the adoption of new cuisines, human-animal relations, and notions of ‘ethical’ consumption.

This thesis employs qualitative research methods: this will involve primary data collection (e.g. interviews, observations) and desk-based research (e.g. review and analysis of academic literature, historical/archival sources, popular sources/grey literature).

Interested?

If you are interested in this topic, please contact Jonas House (jonas.house@wur.nl).