Students learn about eating bugs at bug buffet

29th annual Bug Buffet set for Feb. 24

Students explore the culinary offerings at the annual Bug Buffet. The 2017 Bug Buffet will be February 24 in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

BOZEMAN -- The annual Bug Buffet will be from noon - 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A, on the Montana State University Campus.
On the menu will be such delicacies as Galleria Quesadilla, Larval Latkes with Lemon Sour Cream and Galleria, Red Pepper Cricket Tomato Soup with Cricket Croutons, Orzo Cricket Salad, White Chocolate Chip Wax Worm Cookie and Cricket Banana Bread.
Florence Dunkel, an associate professor in the MSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology and an international expert on edible insects, is a co-organizer of the event, working with Holly Hunts, an associate professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, to plan the activities.
Dunkel planned MSU’s first edible insect event 29 years ago, making the only entree—Montana grasshoppers sauteed in butter—herself. Some years later, she created the Galleria quesadilla, which has become a perennial favorite, with the help of her students. (Galleria mellonella is known as the greater wax moth or honeycomb moth.)
Dunkel said the event is intended to help individuals overcome a psychological aversion to insects as a quality food source.
“We’re trying to bridge psychological and nutritional gaps,” Dunkel said.
The Bug Buffet will also feature a number of activities, including guessing games and interactive student exhibits. Michelle Flenniken, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, and her students will host a booth about bees and pollination. Kathy and James Rolin, the first, and only, official cricket farmers in Montana and owners of Cowboy Crickets Farms, will be available to answer questions about cricket farming and entomophagy, the eating of insects.
The featured guest this year will be Robert Nathan Allen, the founder and president of Little Herds, Inc., a nationally known educational non-profit company based in Austin, Texas, that is focused on edible insects. Allen will offer brief workshops at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, as well as during the preceding week, on the use of insects for food and feed as an environmentally sound and economically viable source of nutrition.
“We expect about 1,000 people to attend this year’s event,” Dunkel said. “We even have five school groups signed up for their own guided tours. Our emphasis this year is our food and agriculture’s environmental footprint, as well as how to decrease it.”
"For example, raising 1 kilogram of crickets uses no water if the crickets are fed misshapen or otherwise unsellable, but perfectly good carrots or other vegetables," Dunkel said. “But the water used for food to produce 1 kilogram of feedlot beef is approximately 2,600 liters,” she said.
The buffet is the culmination of a week-long series of events, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 21, including workshops and lectures related to food security and environmental issues. All events will focus on different aspects of insects, food security and sustainable food production. 
Two free, public lectures will be offered during the week: from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Reed Hall, room 103; and from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Plant Biosciences Building, room 108.
Sponsors for this year’s events include MSU’s University Food Services, College of Education, Health and Human Development, the Office of International Programs and the College of Agriculture. Corporate sponsors include Bugeater Foods, Merci Mercado, Chloe’s Treats, Aspire Food Group and Cowboy Cricket Farms.
Dunkel has recently had three chapters published in academic texts, including “Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients,” and “Sustainable Protein Sources.” She is also anticipating an August publication date for her own new book, “Incorporating Cultures’ Role in the Food and Agricultural Sciences,” a guide for anyone working in the food or agriculture disciplines or industries, particularly for those working with people of a culture different from one’s own, according to Dunkel.
For more information about the buffet, the related workshops and lectures or the publications, contact Dunkel at (406) 994-5065 or or Tim Gould at
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