STORRS, Conn. – University of Connecticut students are getting a taste of a coming food revolution – bugs!
The university’s Food for Thought food truck is serving up roasted crickets for 99 cents as a topping for tacos, and it’s meeting mixed reactions, Daily Campus reports.
“It reminds me of a veggie puff,” Paula Wilmot, assistant director of the Honors Program and Learning Communities, told the news site. “I will definitely tell my colleagues about this.”
“They’re like seeds,” political science sophomore George Pidvysotski said. “This is the first time I’ve tried a bug. I would eat this.”
Civil engineering graduate student Ned Eskew, meanwhile, wouldn’t even try a free sample of the bugs.
“Just, no – because they’re crickets,” he said.
Eskew was among the majority of students who opted against crunching the crickets in his lunch during a recent sample day at the food truck designed to draw interest in the insect topping. Assistant dining services manager John Smith said UConn brought in the new topping, advertised on the side of the food truck, as an “organic, GMO free and earth friendly” option.
The decision is the latest in a movement people incorporating more bugs into their diets that’s driven by in part by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who argues eating bugs is important for the health of the planet and humans in general.
“Keeping meat consumption to levels recommended by health authorities would lower emissions and reduce heart disease, cancer, and other diseases,” he told The Guardian in May. “And of course there are alternative sources of protein. For example, raising insects as an animal protein source. Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat. They make up part of the diet of two billion people and are commonly eaten in many parts of the world.
“Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets,” Annan said.
And the Daily Caller points to a 2013 UN report that states “insects are reported to emit fewer greenhouse gasses and less ammonia than cattle or pigs, and they require significantly less land and water than cattle rearing.”
“Compared with mammals and birds, insects may also pose less risk of transmitting zoonotic infections to humans, livestock and wildlife, although this topic requires further research,” according to the report.
UConn get its crickets from Next Millennium Farms, which houses about 30 million crickets that are euthanized and roasted before shipment. The Wall Street Journal noted that by 2050 beef is expected to be a luxury, and will continue to drive more people toward eating bugs like crickets, which are high in protein, as well as B vitamins and minerals, and low in fat.
It’s the purported health benefits and simple curiosity that convinced UConn’s assistant director of retail services Charles Couture to pitch the crickets to students.
“I’ll try anything,” he said. “I was curious, and it was a really interesting idea. I honestly thought people (at UConn) would try them.”
Next Millennium Farms’ website contends those who are now trying the topping on their tacos are at the forefront of the next big thing.
“We are leading the protein revolution with a new, environmentally sound method of food production,” the site reads. “From cricket flour to insect protein, the revolution is coming!”