BOZEMAN – The annual opportunity to try cricket stir fry, wax moth quesadillas and mealworm dream bars is almost here, with fresh insects being flown in this week from northern Minnesota and Louisiana.
Montana State University will hold its 26th annual bug buffet from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the Plant Growth Center along Eleventh Avenue. It is free and open to the public.
The buffet will offer seven entrees, appetizers and desserts that incorporate insects, also known as land shrimp, said MSU entomologist and buffet organizer Florence Dunkel. New this year will be a fresh garden salad with “hopper toppings.” Land shrimp is a new term that refers to more than 1,900 documented species of edible insects.
Insects for the buffet were expected to arrive in Bozeman Tuesday or Wednesday this week, Dunkel said. Flown in fresh as though they were lobster, the crickets had to be frozen immediately upon arrival. The mealworms had to be refrigerated until they were ready to be sautéed. Some insects will be boiled the day of the event. For the second year in a row, MSU Catering is doing the cooking and baking.
In other activities at the bug buffet, visitors can learn about honeybee behavior, taste different varieties of honey, learn about MSU student research involving edible insects, and hear a Peace Corps representative talk about his experiences and views after eating edible insects overseas. Dave Baumbauer, beekeeper and manager of the Plant Growth Center, will give presentations on honeybees at 12:15 and 2:15 p.m. Visitors will also receive fact sheets and two recipes for edible insects. One is for the fresh garden salad with hopper toppings, the other for Galleria Quesadilla.
People attending the buffet can also learn about a United Nations gathering that involved 17 world experts exploring the potential of food and feed insects. The January 2012 meeting involved Dunkel and resulted in a 190-page document on “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” It will be followed up by the first worldwide conference on edible insects, to be held in May in the Netherlands.
“I invite you to join the conversation with those who care deeply about protein energy and micronutrient malnutrition and other issues of food security, sustainability and sustainable entrepreneurship,” Dunkel said. “It is time we catch up with our counterparts in European countries working on this high quality, sustainable, delicious protein source, well-positioned to mitigate climate change and human population growth.”
Dunkel, an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, teaches the classes that are organizing the buffet in conjunction with MSU Catering. Those are Biology 162 CS, "The Issues of Insects and Human Societies,” and AGSC 465R, "Health, Poverty, Agriculture: Concepts and Action Research." Students in those classes are currently researching insects as food and feed, cricket farming and other entrepreneurial opportunities related to insects.
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org