Line up for the bug buffet

Posted on 19 February 2018

Bug buffet is part of a week-long celebration of edible insects as a sustainable food source

MONTANA LIVING – For people who like to eat bugs, the buffet is open in Bozeman.

Montana State University will have its 30th annual Bug Buffet Feb. 20,in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A, as part of MSU’s 125th Birthday celebration. The buffet is open from 12-4 p.m.

 bug buffet bozeman, edible insects, MSU, montana living

This year’s event is part of a week-long celebration of edible insects as a sustainable food source. The week will feature a number of events, including the first annual Bug Cook-Off, a film screening, field trips, lectures, an academic conference and the annual Bug Buffet event, where the public can sample a varied menu of dishes prepared with edible insects.

The bug week celebrations will begin this year with the first annual student Bug Cook-Off competition, which will take place from 1-4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, with judging beginning at 3 p.m.

MSU’s new hospitality management program, partnering with Gallatin College MSU’s culinary arts program and Montana PBS, will host the event, which will feature renowned chef and author David George Gordon of Seattle as an expert consultant and guest judge. Marcy Gaston, a professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, is organizing the competition.

Several companies made cash donations or will be providing edible insects to be used as the main ingredients for the competition: Entomo-Farms will provide crickets and mealworms; All Things Bugs will provide cricket powder and a $500 cash donation; Buhler, Inc., a company that produces equipment for food processing, made a $1,000 cash donation; Chapul will donate Chapul bars; Exo will provide Exobars; Six foods will donate Chocolate Chirp Cookie mix; Bug Eater Foods will provide rice, pasta and protein powder mix; Gordon will provide black ants; and Merci Mercado will provide chapulines, or grasshoppers, and sal de gusano, also known as agave worm salt.

Montana PBS Director of Educational Services Chris Seifert will judge the competition and is also organizing a film crew of MSU students to help document the event and prepare an educational video clip.

The Bug Buffet will feature free samples of edible insect recipes prepared under the supervision of Amber Wivholm, MSU University Culinary Services assistant catering manager, Dustin Schreiner, University Culinary Services sanitarian, and Gordon.

Menu items will include new dishes and perennial favorites such as larval latkes, tropical smoothies, chirpy pizza, locust shish kebabs, Montana monster chirp cookies, pear-ant salad and Tenebrio dream bars.There will be an early presentation for local preschool students, as well as for high school students involved in the National Restaurant Association ProStart culinary program. Christine Lux, MSU professor in the Department of Health and Human Development, is spearheading a service-learning opportunity for MSU early childhood education students to prepare educational materials for the youngest Bug Buffet visitors.

Also on the 20th, there will be a screening from 5-7 p.m. of the feature-length documentary “Bugs on the Menu” at the Procrastinator Theater. The film’s director, Ian Toews, was a featured speaker at the 2016 Bug Buffet.

On Feb. 21, MSU will host a free public educational workshop from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Cowboy Cricket Farms, owned by Kathy and James Rollins, both MSU students. Also, Wan-Yuan Kuo, a faculty member in MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development who specializes in food science and food technology, will host a free public educational workshop from 1-2 p.m. at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center. The fish hatchery uses advanced extrusion technology to create fish feed that includes insects.

For more information about the Cowboy Cricket Farms workshop, contact James Rollins at For more information on the fish technology workshop, contact Kuo at 406-994-3259 or

To register for either event or for more information, visit on February 21, guest lecturers, including Valerie Stull, Ph.D. in Environment and Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Gordon will speak in a variety of student classes across campus.

The week-long celebration will end on Thursday, Feb. 22, with the first annual MSU Academic Conference on Insects for Food and Feed, organized by Steve Stowers, a faculty member in the MSU Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. The conference, to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Animal Biosciences Building, will feature Stull, who has just completed research related to entomophagy (humans eating insects as food) and the human gut microbiome health, Seth Walk, MSU professor of immunology and several other MSU faculty members.According to Florence Dunkel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, the first MSU insect feast, held in 1989, was attended only by the students in a university core course in technology, and the only item on the menu was the Montana grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes, raised locally on wheat bran and romaine lettuce.

A frying pan, portable hotplate and a pound of butter were the only other supplies and equipment used for the buffet, according to Dunkel.“Twenty-nine years later, the annual banquet has grown considerably,” Dunkel said.The banquet now hosts over 850 guests and offers a seven-course menu, which is prepared by MSU Culinary Services, according to Dunkel.

It is also no longer just a buffet, but a week-long series of events organized by Dunkel and the Bug Buffet committee, which she co-chairs with Holly Hunts, a professor in the Department of Health and Human Development, in collaboration with a university course in contemporary issues in science, taught by Dunkel.Other support for the event is provided by the MSU College of Agriculture, MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development, Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, MSU College of Letters and Science, the Office of International Programs, the MSU Department of EcologyResidence Life and the Office of the President.

For more information, contact Dunkel at 406-994-5065 or, or Deb Redburn at 406-994-6890 or, or visit 


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