Sometimes, something really gross (on the surface), can bring about some great conversations on world hunger, nutrition, and courage.
So a year ago, I was perusing ThinkGeek, and awesome place you should check out, when I came upon their edible bug gift set. While I personally cringed at the thought of salted ants and flavored scorpions, I couldn’t help but think it would make a great experience for my teens. Because isn’t part of our job to get them to go farther than we have? I stopped into our teen room that afternoon and asked a couple of the teens point-blank, “hey, if I order edible bugs, would you guys try them?” When they realized I was serious, they did say yes, and I placed the order.
A short time later, these wonderful cans arrived.
I did account for those who may get overly grossed out, and had barf-bags and garbage cans on hand.
During the program, I talked to them about how the FDA actually already does allow a certain percentage of insects and other unmentionables into our food. This grossed them out tremendously, but also got some great conversations going about how food is processed and distributed. Each participant received a sheet that described how some countries use bugs as a serious source of protein, and also how some scientists are looking at bugs as a way to solve the hunger epidemic. The farming of insects has also impacted the job market in countries such as Thailand, that not only use bugs for food but mass distribution.
Total, this program ran me about $30 and that was just the cost of the bugs themselves. ThinkGeek often has sales, however, where you may come up on a cheaper set, or you can visit Thailand Unique directly and get even more experimental! The company is registered with the US FDA, and they have photos on their website of how they package and clean the insects, so you could even talk with teens about how much less space is needed for the manufacturing of this protein source also.
The program was received so well that we actually did it again a couple weeks ago as part of a survival-themed week in our summer program. More than last time, I had lots of teens actually try the bugs, rather than just dare their friends to taste them. Most remarked that it tasted like potato chips or salted sunflower seeds. We introduced badging this summer as well, and participants were able to earn an entomophagy badge for it, which brought some teens in a few days after the program just to try a (leftover) bug and earn their badge!
I would definitely host something like this again, perhaps even a cooking demo with insect flour! Whatever I decide, I’m sure it’ll be just as fun. If you try it, come back and let us know how it goes!
Products (with info on entomophagy):
Websites & Articles:
There’s a Cricket in my Cookie
Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet
Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects
The eat-a-bug cookbook : 40 ways to cook crickets, grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, centipedes, and their kin
What The World Eats
Yuck: The Things People Eat