Fort Collins hosts first bug-eating class

Rachel Musselmann

Roasted cricket fondue and sautéed mealworms were on the menu Wednesday night at a bug-eating event hosted by the Growing Project, a local non-profit organization.

The "Eating Bugs 101" event gives the public the opportunity to learn why bugs should be incorporated into the normal diet and provides the chance to try different bugs, plain or dipped in chocolate and cheese. (Photo credit: Madison Brandt)
The “Eating Bugs 101” event gives the public the opportunity to learn why bugs should be incorporated into the normal diet and provides the chance to try different bugs, plain or dipped in chocolate or cheese. (Photo credit: Madison Brandt)

The sold-out class had 20 attendees, ranging in age from a few months old to 70 years, many looking to learn, cook and taste.

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Rachel Sitz, co-producer of the bug-eating course and a graduate student in entomology at Colorado State University, said she was excited to teach the class.

“I really respect insects as organisms,” Sitz said. “I want people to realize that instead of just talking about bugs as pests, we can really get some use out of them.”

Co-producer Terri Randolph, research associate in the Department of Bio-Agricultural Sciences and Pest Management, said she wants to open the mind of the public to a new source of protein.

“Even vegetarians are already eating bugs — they’re in everything,” Randolph said. “Plus, we eat arthropods like crab and shrimp all the time. There’s no difference.”

The class featured a presentation on the nutritional value of bugs, common edible species and trapping and cooking methods. The participants were then allowed to taste samples of a few prepared insects.

There were cookbooks available to browse, with titles such as “Creepy Crawly Cuisine” and “The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.”

Participant Peggy Watson said she and her husband came to the class to shake up old routines.

“We haven’t done anything weird and exciting in a while,” Watson said. “This is a chance for an interesting dinner.”

The Growing Project Executive Director Dana Guber said she is happy she was able to host the class.

“We really love to promote alternative and sustainable forms of eating,” Guber said.

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The Growing Project focuses on food production and distribution education, and hosts more than 20 similar workshops a year.

“This type of thing really creates a community around food,” Guber said. “It brings all types of people together and gets them out of their shells.”

Sitz said she hopes to see an increase in bug-eating culture in Fort Collins.

“I hope to see it catch on, if only because it’s a lot of fun,”Sitz says. “Besides, bugs are delicious.”

Randolph agreed.

“People in the West are squeamish about this kind of thing,” Randolph said. “But bug-eating isn’t gross compared to the garbage that goes into a chicken nugget.”

Collegian Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rmusselmann.