I find this kind of knee-jerk reaction to eating bugs amusing.
"Eww! It’s creepy! They have eyes and legs! So gross!"
Do you know what else has eyes and legs? Chickens, pigs and cows. Do you know what else was once considered repulsive in this country? Eating raw fish, lobsters and pig trotters. Do you know how many other insect-eating humans are quietly laughing at your precious Western mentality? Billions.
In today’s food section, I wrote about Little Herds and World Entomophagy, two local organizations (the first a nonprofit, the second an edible insect company) that are part of a much larger trend of trying to get people to think differently about eating bugs.
I didn’t know much about entomophagy (the official name for eating insects) until this summer, when I first met Robert Nathan Allen, the Little Herds founder whom I found out later also works in another department at the Statesman. He’s incredibly passionate about insects as an alternative source of protein, and as I learned about how little input of both feed and water it takes to grow (downright tasty) bugs like crickets and mealworms (and how many bugs we are already eating through everyday foods), it started to make sense in the larger conversation about sustainability and the environmental impact of our diet.
With more than half a dozen companies on the verge of launching all kinds of insect bars, baked goods, flours and grow-your-own kits, entomophagy is certainly a more viable food trend than, say, 3D food printing, which is one of the other futuristic food panels slated for South by Southwest Interactive next year.
If you’re interested in trying some of these bug creations yourself or learning more about why it’s probably a good idea to be a little more open minded about what we eat, Little Herds and World Entomophagy are involved in a number of upcoming events, some of which coincide with the Entomological Society of America’s national conference, which is coming to Austin next month.
Piranha Killer Sushi, 207 San Jacinto Blvd., is featuring an array of dishes on Halloween night that incorporate some of World Entomophagy’s products. The special menu starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
At 7 p.m. Nov. 6, Little Herds and World Entomophagy are participating in a Dionysium event at the Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson Lane. Tickets cost $11 and are available at drafthouse.com.
The Entomological Society of America is hosting its annual conference in Austin from Nov. 10 to 13, and to kick off the event, Little Herds is helping with an "insect rodeo," a free, family-friendly event that is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.
Also timed with the arrival of some 3,000 entomologists that week is the opening of Art.Science.Gallery’s ECLOSION exhibit at Canopy Austin, 916 Springdale Road. The opening reception for the insect-inspired art collection, which will be on display through Dec. 1, will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. Nov. 9 and will feature insect hors d’oeuvres from Little Herds and World Entomophagy. You can find out more at artsciencegallery.com.
On Feb. 19, a traveling entomophagy event called the Future Food Salon will come to Austin. Tickets are not yet on sale; more at alimentaryinitiatives.com.