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Crickets Cause Catering Controversy

August 1, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Call it reality cuisine. With the folks on Survivor and Fear Factor eating all kinds of critters, it was only a matter of time before such items would become part of the special event scene. At the National Association of Caterering Executives' (NACE) annual conference in Palm Springs last month, a breakfast was designed to introduce participants to the world of entomophagy--i.e., eating bugs--as a way to showcase futuristic foods.

“You couldn?t see any body parts,” one of the bug-eaters told us. “While I tasted everything [else] at the meal, they served freeze-dried mealworms in an actual bowl and I stayed away from that.? The menu included homemade granola with powdered fruit flies; roasted baby potatoes with roasted crickets in powdered form; and scrambled eggs with mealworm larva. Of the 650 participants, only 60 decided to pass on the bugs for more traditional fare. Other insect items at the conference included something called ”Critter Fritters” with roasted crickets and ants in chocolate (“the other, other red meat?). The reaction from many was shock. Some liked the idea, some hated it, but everyone talked about it.

While putting together the event, NACE planners discovered that the insects are FDA approved. Seventy percent of the world population uses bugs as an important source of protein in their diets, and NACE figured it would be only a matter of time before the new cuisine catches on in the U.S. (For all those protein-crazed dieters, 20 percent of most bugs is protein, but that increases to 60 percent when they're dried into powder.)

Posted 08.01.01

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