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UConn Dining goes “buggy” with insect-based pop-up meal

On March 12th, University of Connecticut Dining and Ana Legrand, a professor of entomology (the science of insects) at the school, held a rather unusual pop-up dining event for a select group of university community member: a dinner featuring dishes incorporating various edible insects.

The event was designed to highlight the nutritional, environmental and, yes, culinary advantages of incorporating bugs into the diet as almost 2,000 species of edible insects have been recorded around the world and they’re popular food in many countries.

For example, it was pointed out that insects contain essential amino acids and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. One recent study found, for instance, that crickets have more bioavailable iron than sirloin steak.

Furthermore, mass rearing of insects for food can have a smaller environmental footprint due to their high reproductive rates and high feed-to-edible tissue conversion rates.

All that’s well and good, but how do they taste?

“The comments were all positive, many clean plates,” says Robert Landolphi, UConn’s culinary operations manager who helped organize and put on the event. “The crepe made with cricket flour and garnished with coffee and cocoa crickets was amazing, and the taco banh mi with the whole (sweet, salty and spicy) grasshoppers was an eye opener that bursted with flavor.”

So, would they do it again?

“Based on feedback from the students and community,” Landolphi offers, “I could definitely see us possibly doing this next semester. It's a great educational session that exposes students to proteins that are popular around the world.”

Here’s a pictorial look at the event…

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