Insects on the Montana Menu

Annual bug buffet features moths, crickets.

Published on: Feb 27, 2014

The yearly chance to eat a bug took place Feb. 21 at Montana State University.

There were cricket stir fry, was moth quesadilla and mealworm dream bar options, just to name a few of the crawly, creepy entrees at the MSU Bug Buffet.

Appetizers and desserts included land shrimp, a term that refers to more than 1,900 documented species of edible insects, notes MSU entomologist and buffet organizer Florence Dunkel. Some tried a fresh garden salad  with hopper toppers (grasshopper toppings). Some of the bugs had to be ordered and flown in from northern Minnesota and Louisiana.

It took some work to get this event underway, she notes, with crickets flown in and frozen upon arrival, and mealworms refrigerated until they could be sautéed. Some insects were boiled the day of the event, with MSU Catering doing the cooking and baking.

Brock Spain studies his plate of cricket stir fry during a Montana State University bug buffet.
Brock Spain studies his plate of cricket stir fry during a Montana State University bug buffet.

But it wasn't  just gorging themselves on bugs that those attending were involved in. The event provided an opportunity to learn about honeybee behavior, taste different  varieties of  honey, and learn about MSU research involving edible insects.

A Peace Corps speaker told of his experiences and views after eating  edible insects overseas.

Visitors were also provided fact sheets and recipes for preparation of edible bugs, including a fresh garden salad with hopper toppings choice meal, and a galleria quesadilla preparation.

Those attending the buffet also learned about a United Nations gathering that involved 17 world experts exploring the potential of food and feed insects.

That 2012 session provided a resource, "Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security."

The first worldwide conference on edible insects is scheduled for 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 told participants.

"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."