Students at the University of Connecticut will be able to try a variety of insect-themed meals next Tuesday, March 12 at 6 p.m. in Rome Commons for the dining services-sponsored “Bug Feast,” said Dining Services director C. Dennis Pierce.
The idea for the event came from UConn entomology professor Ana Legrand, who runs the class Insects, Food and Culture, and Bill Broadbent, who runs a company in Maine called Entosense that sells edible insects, Pierce said.
“The whole purpose of Entosense selling [insects] is to try to promote them as an [alternative] protein source compared to what we know now, like beef and chicken,” Pierce said. “And Ana basically explains to her students that eating insects is common in foreign countries where protein is not readily available or is cost-prohibited.”
Pierce said he was able to bring Legrand and Broadbent and their ideologies together for next week’s event, which will host Legrand as a guest speaker.
“It is an event that we want to sponsor to be able to offer dishes to students [who] have any level of interest in it,” Pierce said. “We want to increase their food awareness.”
Pierce said he believes UConn Dining Services has a large role in helping students become knowledgeable about different food options outside their normal realm.
“We feel that we have an obligation to be part of the education of exposing students to new recipes and make them aware of their culinary journeys,” Pierce said.
Students who are interested in participating can go the C-Store on the second floor of the Student Union and sign up there. Reservations will close on Friday, March 8, according to a press release from Dining Services.
Tuesday’s menu includes appetizers like beef sliders with weaver ants, crepes made with cricket flour, arborio rice with mealworms and a green tea silkworm smoothie. Individuals with seafood allergies (primarily shellfish and crustaceans) are strongly discouraged from attending due to a larger likelihood of an insect allergy, the release added.
Pierce said he hopes the “Bug Feast” will be an opportunity for students across all backgrounds to take a chance and try something new.
“I envision it like a daring experience,” Pierce said. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised and think ‘hey, it is not that bad.’ I mean how many times in your life do you get served grasshopper?”
A survey will be sent to students after the feast, and will include questions about their thoughts on the food and the coordination of the event, Pierce said.
“We want to ask for feedback and have the students describe their experiences,” Pierce said. “But I do think something like this [the feast] you can do periodically, but if you do it too much it will lose the interest.”
Pierce said a goal of his within dining services is to ensure the department is constantly becoming more culturally sensitive and aware of differences among eating populations.
“I think the world has opened up through food,” Pierce said. “Our job is to be able to serve items that an individual may normally not have through mainstream providers.”
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.