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Bugs for Brunch

Author
by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
28 March 2012
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Adrienne creates and presents public programs at Melbourne Museum.

What do you eat when you are having bugs for brunch?

Well, scorpions for starters, followed by BBQ-flavoured mealworms. Or perhaps you prefer your mealworms simply roasted with a dipping sauce? And would you like crunchy crickets with that?

A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets. A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

More than 3,000 ethnic groups in 113 countries eat insects and other invertebrates, and in many places they are preferred over beef, pork and lamb. Producing insects generates fewer greenhouse emissions than for other forms of meat production and you get more for the same effort: less feed produces more protein. This means a high-protein and low-fat food source that leaves a smaller environmental footprint. While eating insects makes environmental sense, it's pretty confronting to many of us.

Developed as a children's program for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Bugs for Brunch events ran over four days and tickets sold out fast. Surprisingly, there were just as many young adults as children (with their parents) who came along learn about – and taste - edible bugs. They wanted to do something different, something fun, something with their friends and family. But were they ready to eat bugs?

Most declared they were slightly squeamish and only a few had ever eaten a bug. After being shown how many bugs are already in our food, they were even more grossed out.

But with tastes of bug vomit (delicious honeycomb from Mount Dandenong) to sweeten them up, and up close and personal viewings of all kinds of edible bugs from Bogong Moths and bardy grubs to scorpions, grasshoppers and Chilean Rose tarantulas (Grammostola rosea), people's opinions shifted.

Woman holding beetle grub A bardy grub (beetle larva) at Bugs for Brunch.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

After seeing lots of images of people eating bugs, looking through bug recipe books and watching a Pad Thai being made with mealworms, they were ready to eat! Lollypops with bugs in them and mealworm chocolate chip cookies gave them a soft approach to the "whole bug in mouth" experience. But by the end, those roasted toasted whole bug snacks were being scoffed. They couldn't get enough and every plate was empty by the end.

Pad Thai with mealworms. Pad Thai with mealworms.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

The Bugs for Brunch program was developed and delivered by Patrick Honan and Rowena Flynn from the museum's Live Exhibits team and Adrienne Leith from Education and Community Programs. The insects at the Bugs for Brunch event came from one of the country's few consumable insect producers and were bred under hygienic conditions that comply with Australian Food Standards.

Links:

Edible Forest Insects, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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