Why are universities trying so hard to get us to eat bugs?
American universities are trying to convince students that eating bugs is essential because of environmental concerns.
Ranging from lectures, to actual bug-eating events, the trend of exposing American college students to insect consumption is growing.
Editor's note: Featured photo courtesy of Sean Murphy/Chico State Today
A growing number of major American universities are encouraging students to normalize eating bugs in the name of "sustainability," with many pushing events where students are actually fed meals with insect ingredients.
Friday, Boise State is set to host the founder of Orchestra Provisions, a company that makes spices out of crickets in an effort to steer people toward "sustainable solutions to live in balance with the earth." The company focuses on re-branding insect-derived food to be marketed as more palatable in the name of finding "creative solutions for our biological limitations" because "the food systems in place will not successfully carry the weight of an increasing population of humans."
University of Georgia's Grady College's journalism program recently published an informational piece in which it interviewed various "experts" on "entomophagy" (the practice of eating insects) about "what kind of nutrients people can get from eating insects and whether or not this is something that could be sustainable with an exponentially growing world population."
The piece asserted that Western aversion to eating bugs is "due to programmed reactions from childhood."
[RELATED: Profs warn that climate change may cause surge in suicides]
In October the University of Wisconsin-Madison served samples of "creative insect-based dishes" at an event called "What is Food and Who Decides?: Insects as Food" where students came together to listen to a panel of "experts on food regulation" consider the "present and future of insects as food."
Also, last month was California State University-Chico's "Bug Night" at one of the main campus dining halls. In order to help students view bugs as a practical and sustainable food source, the facility served up macaroni and cheese topped with fried mealworms, tacos with crickets, and brownies covered in Chinese black ants.
According to Chico Associated Students Dining Services Director Tom Rider, "The goal was to shed light on sustainable alternative protein sources, while focusing on environmental impact."
Photo credit: Sean Murphy/Chico State Today
[RELATED: Univ. BANS BURGERS to combat climate change. Where could it happen next?]
“For example, while it takes 22,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef protein, it takes less than 1 liter of water to produce 1 kilogram of crickets," Rider. said. “Special events like this help to break down preconceived notions about what eating bugs is like."
The University of California-Davis held an event last month at its Bohart Museum of Entomology complete with a "Bug Buffet." The museum boasted that children as young as nine months old partook in the buffet which included termites, moth larvae, and "locust biscuits."
As it turns out, young people may not need that much convincing when it comes to bug consumption.
A poll conducted by Michigan State University last month found that 25 percent of adults are willing to eat food products with insect-based protein. Forty percent of those willing were under the age of 40.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan