Bugs for Brunch

by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
28 March 2012
Comments (5)

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.


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

Comments (5)

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Shane 24 August, 2012 16:23
Are you able to provide information on what else you would need (besides complying with Food Standards), to be able to grow and sell insects for human consumption?
Discovery Centre 1 September, 2012 13:28

Hi Shane,

Thanks for your enquiry.  Although this isn't a topic the Museum has particular expertise in, we've done some research and noticed there is a lot of work being done internationally to explore the breeding of insects as a human food source.  You may want to read the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations’ publication Forest insects as food: humans bite back which covers edible insects, their harvesting and breeding for human consumption.  One chapter address the prospects for an edible insect market in Australia.  Serge Verniau, FAO’s representative in Laos, is a major proponent of the nutritional and food source benefits of edible insects.  There are numerous articles about him online, including this one from the United Nations communications website

Hope this helps

cristian 23 July, 2014 14:50
Hi do you still continue with any program related with this subject? if not do you know any place in melbourne that does? cheers
Discovery Centre 26 July, 2014 13:11
Hi Cristian, thank you for your enquiry regarding the Bugs for Brunch program which was held as part of the Wine and Food Festival in 2012. Unfortunately, the program was only held at this time and there are no current plans to repeat the program. I am unsure if similar programs exist in Melbourne. I have not seen or heard of any running.

I personally think it is an interesting and very topical subject and it would be great to see programs and discussions about entomaphagy continue.



cristian 4 December, 2014 19:16
thanks a lot for your answer! wish some time this subject is repeated! cheers
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