The 33rd annual “Bug Buffet” took place from Sunday, Feb. 20, through Saturday, Feb. 27. The buffet included a virtual cook-off between MSU’s chefs, various interviews with food insect entrepreneurs and special bug meal options in Rendezvous Dining Pavilion and Miller Dining Commons. Through the bug buffet, MSU explored a possible solution for the current climate crisis: insects as a source of protein. MSU’s efforts are uplifting as they provide knowledge to students and community members on steps that can be taken to positively impact the prosperity of our planet. Eating insects is an extremely sustainable approach to food supply and should become a daily part of our diet.
Our planet, our home and the long-term wellbeing of humanity are in desperate need of processes that will stop further destruction of the natural world. The earth can simply no longer sustain massive meat production facilities or unnecessary amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. According to the MSU website, “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 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has proposed a goal to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint 50% by 2030 and I believe the best way to do that is by switching to a bug-based diet. Based on a graphic created by MSU’s Insects and Human Society course (BIOO 162CS), insects only occupy 44-square-feet of land per pound of livestock, compared to 444-square-feet used by beef production. Plus, the agricultural think-tank, FoodTank, reports that it takes zero gallons of water to produce a pound of insects versus 576 gallons for one-pound of pork.
When I saw the screens in Rendezvous and Miller promoting the Bug Buffet, I got excited to see what would be offered. I love to try new food—even if it does have wings and multiple legs—and I value partaking in actions that promote the health of the planet. Miller Dining Commons offered termite fried rice, “three sisters with June bugs” and chicken wings with ants for this unique meal. The staff was working hard to encourage students to try the unusual food options. I did not think the termite fried rice was too bad and could foresee it being a future menu item enjoyed by many (so long as the general “disgust” surrounding insects hopefully decreases). Yes, bugs are creepy, crawly and found in the dirt, but they can be tasty when tossed in the right seasoning. Plus, they are healthier than meat for both our bodies and our planet.
The Instagram account @brooklynbugs, hosted by chef Joseph Yoon, is an educational account focusing on “breaking down barriers [and] changing perceptions in sustainability, with a focus on accessibility [and] deliciousness.” Scrolling through his feed provides viewers with ideas for meals and snacks incorporating insects as a protein. Featured meals include cricket mac and cheese bites, asparagus soup topped with locusts and fruit salad with Japanese wasps. The captions also provide information on purchasing options for edible insects. Easy access to information such as that provided by @brooklynbugs helps decrease the discomfort surrounding bugs as food and further highlights simple steps people can take to increase the health of our planet.
The next time the opportunity arises, we should all try foods including insects and see what new yummy-ness is discovered. I am in full support of the annual Bug Buffet and would enjoy seeing crickets and termites in our dining halls more often.