Quinnipiac class to entice fellow students to eat crickets

March 31, 2014 - A Quinnipiac anthropology class this week will attempt to convince other students that eating food made with crickets is not only good for them, but also a sustainable solution for the environment.

Julia Giblin, assistant professor of anthropology, who teaches the class, "Ancient Food For Thought," and her students will be in the Carl Hansen Student Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, and from 3-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2, encouraging members of the University community to eat Chocolate Chirpy Cookies, which are made with crickets, and Crunchy Cricket Salsa.

"We're looking at food taboos, including things that are not considered part of our daily cuisine and may even be considered gross, like insects," Giblin said.

Plants and animals that are considered safe and appropriate to eat vary widely in societies around the world, and can even vary by gender and class within a given culture. A delicacy in one culture may be considered inedible in another. By studying past societies, the students are learning that food staples and taboos change in response to both cultural and environmental factors.

"Lobster is a great example," Giblin said. "In the Northeastern United States during the 17th century, lobster was considered fit only for fertilizer and food for prisoners. It is now one of the most expensive and highly sought after items at fancy restaurants. Our goal is to get college students to think about their food choices more critically and even consider adding some close relatives to lobster into their cuisine."

That's where the insects come in.

"Issues related to population pressure, diminishing resources, hunger, obesity, pollution and climate change challenge us to find better ways to sustainably produce, distribute and consume food on a global scale," Giblin said. "Microcrops or minilivestock, like crickets, grasshoppers, ants and beetle grubs, provide one possible solution."

Many species of insects, which provide a lean and nutrient-rich protein source, can be produced without relying significantly on resources such as land, water and energy. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions also is reduced in the production of insects, compared to livestock.

"Entomophagy provides solutions to both sustainability issues as well as health concerns," Giblin said. "Over 1,000 species of insects are eaten by people around the globe, but good luck getting an American college student to chow down on a dried grasshopper taco."