Bug Buffet helps break down insect-eating barriers

Why don’t we eat more crickets in the United States? That’s the question that the 29th Annual Bug Buffet asked on Friday, Feb. 24.

Crickets have twice the protein and nearly five times the magnesium of beef, as well as a full amino acid profile. And, it takes 10 times more land and 2,636 times more water to raise a pound of beef than a pound of crickets, according to entomology and water management experts.

“It’s a mental block. That’s all it is,” James Rolin, manager of Cowboy Cricket Farms in Belgrade, said. “80 percent of the world eats insects. Western culture [eats] almost none.”

With samples such as red pepper cricket tomato soup, larval latkes and cricket flour banana bread, the Bug Buffet is an experience that helped bridge the gap.  

Education is also a part of breaking down barriers to entomophagy (the eating of insects). MSU offers Insects and Human Society, or BIOO 162CS, a semester-long course devoted to investigating insects as a viable and sustainable piece of the human diet. The class hosts the Bug Buffet every year.

“The only detriment is the cost,” Rolin said. Though Cowboy Cricket Farms sells a pound of cricket powder for $35, some vendors sell for $50. But Rolin is hopeful: “The more the industry grows, the more people accept it, the more we can scale our operation and decrease our price.”