The Bug Buffet
February 19th – 1stAnnual Bug Cook-off. In partnership with our new Hospitality Management program, Gallatin College’s brand new Culinary Arts program, and the Montana Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) we are very excited to announce our 1st Annual Bug Cook-Off! We are currently recruiting competitors! Through the financial support of the Colleges of Agriculture; Education, Health and Human Development; Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship; Letters and Science and the Office of International Programs and the Office of the President, we are flying in renowned chef and author David George Gordon from Seattle, WA who is serving as an expert consultant and a judge. Health and Human Development Faculty member Marcy Gaston is taking leadership with this event. Several companies are providing edible insects for this event including:
- Entomo Farms - crickets and mealworms http://entomofarms.com
- All Things Bugs – cricket powder (and a $500 cash donation!) http://allthingsbugs.com/
- Chapul – Chapul bars https://chapul.com/
- Exo – Exo bars https://exoprotein.com/
- Six Foods – Chocolate Chirp Cookie Mix https://www.specialtyfood.com/organization/128938/six-foods-llc/
- Bug Eater Foods – rice, pasta and protein powder mix https://www.bugeaterfoods.com/
- David George Gordon The Bug Chef - providing black ants http://davidgeorgegordon.com/
- Merci Mercado - chapulines and sal de gusano http://mercimercado.com/ourproducts/
Chris Seifert from Montana PBS has agreed to serve as a judge. Additionally, she is assembling a film crew of MSU students to help document the event and to provide educational materials for all Montanans. We are seeking additional judges.
February 20th – 30th Annual Bug Buffet held at the Strand Union Building. Last year we estimated 850 guests and we are hoping for 1,000 guests this year. President Cruzado will be opening up the event as it is part of MSU’s 125th Celebration! All guests are welcome to enjoy free samples of edible insects prepared in a variety of delicious recipes under the creative efforts of Amber Wivholm (University Food Service), David George Gordon and the careful supervision of MSU’s sanitarian Dustin Schreiner.
There is a special early presentation for local preschool students and for high school students involved in the National Restaurant Association ProStart Culinary Program. Health and Human Development faculty member Dr. Christine Lux is spearheading a service learning opportunity for her Early Childhood Education students to prepare educational materials for the youngest Bug Buffet visitors. An important component of the Bug Buffet is the voluntary participation from Bug Buffet visitors to add to our academic knowledge about attitudes towards edible insects by completing a short survey. Similar data has been collected at each Bug Buffet across the decades.
Also on the 20th , in the Procrastinator Theater from 5-7 p.m. we are hosting a Film Festival featuring – “Bugs on the Menu” http://www.cbc.ca/documentarychannel/docs/bugs-on-the-menu at the Procrastinator theater. The Director of Bugs on the Menu, Ian Toews, was a featured speaker at the 2016 Bug Buffet.
February 21st – There will be educational field trips to Montana’s only edible insect farm - Cowboy Cricket Farms https://cowboycrickets.com/ . Co-owners of Cowboy Cricket Farms, Kathy and James Rolin are both MSU students! Wan-Yuan, a faculty member in the Department of Health and Human Development specializing in food science and food technology has organized a field trip to the Bozeman Fish Technology Center https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/fisheries/ftc.php . The fish hatchery uses advanced extrusion technology to create fish feed that includes insects. Additionally, guests David George Gordon and Valerie Stull will be serve as guest lecturers for a variety of courses across campus on Wednesday.
February 22nd – We are excited to announce our 1st Annual MSU Academic Conference on Insects for Food and Feed. Dr. Steve Stowers, a MSU faculty member in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, is organizing the conference to be held in the Animal Biosciences Building from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The featured keynote speaker is PhD candidate Valerie Stull https://nelson.wisc.edu/sage/people/profile.php?p=1563 who has recently completed landmark research related to entomophagy (humans eating insects as food) and human gut microbiome health. Her research findings indicate that part of insects’ exoskeleton, chitin, may serve as an important pre-biotic which promotes intestinal health. David George Gordon, The Bug Chef, will also present along with faculty from MSU.
All of these events are possible through the donations from across campus, corporate and local sponsors and the efforts of the MSU Committee on Insects for Food and Feed and Florence Dunkel’s students. Members of the committee are a mix of faculty, students, MSU staff and corporate sponsors. Academic and institutions represented by faculty, students and staff include: Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Department of Ecology, Department of Health and Human Development, Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Gallatin College – Culinary Arts Program, Office of International Programs, Residence Life/University Food Service, The Bug Chef and University Food Service. The members (in alphabetical order) include: Florence Dunkel, Marcy Gaston, David George Gordon, Timothy (Teo) Gould, Holly Hunts, Wan-Yuan Kuo, Christine Lux, James Rolin, Kathy Rolin, Dustin Schreiner, Steve Stowers, Michael Thienes, Kaitlin Webb, Amber Wivholm, and Claire Zahner.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has proposed that the environmental footprint of agriculture (water and land use, ammonia production, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use) be reduced 50% by 2030. Montana is one of the few states in the US that derives much of its income from agriculture ($2.4 billion annually). It is the mission of this committee to raise awareness on campus and within the State of Montana of the opportunities edible insects, insects as a food ingredient, and insects as feed ingredients provide in reducing the footprint of agriculture.
The first Montana State University (MSU) insect feast was held in February 1989 attended by only the students in a University Core course in Technology. The only item on the menu was a Montana grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes, raised on grain and romaine lettuce in the USDA ARS Grasshopper Lab on the MSU campus. A frying pan, portable hotplate, and a pound of butter were the only other supplies and equipment used for the buffet. Within 50 minutes the heaping platter of grasshoppers were consumed. Less than 20% of the 25 attendees were pleased and convinced this was a new food of the future for Euro-Americans.
This annual banquet, always in February, grew to become well-known across campus and within Gallatin Valley. Over the years our guests have included feature writers from the New Yorker, Field and Stream, the Tokyo Times and the Chinese News Service (CCTV) as well as a Canadian documentary film crew who have just released their film, Bugs on the Menu. Twenty-nine years later, the banquet hosts over 850 guests and a seven course menu. The 2017 exit survey indicated the acceptance rating is in the ninety percent range.
The Bug Buffet is now prepared by the MSU Food Service and is more than a campus event. Guests come from local pre-schools, grade schools, middle schools both public and private, and Bozeman High School. It is no longer just a buffet. The event is a week-long series of workshops held in the Colleges of Agriculture, Business, Education Health and Human Development, and in the School of Film and Photography. The entire event is organized by the Bug Buffet Committee in collaboration with a University Core course in Contemporary Issues in Science with an annual budget of from $6,500 in contributions from academic units on campus and corporate sponsors nationally and internationally.
The first edible insect farm in Montana, Cowboy Cricket Farms, L.L.C., Belgrade, MT, was a direct result of the 2016 Bug Buffet workshops in Nutritional Sciences at MSU. Cowboy Crickets recently built their own commercial kitchen in Belgrade, MT, and one of their several products, a post workout recovery cookie is available in shops in Bozeman and on the Web.