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It’s bug in, not bug out at Wayne State’s conference on edible insects … there’s even a dinner

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When you were younger did an older kid – perhaps a big brother or sister – dare you to eat bugs? I must confess I did that to my little sister.

We thought eating bugs was gross, but it sure was fun to see the younger kids choke them down. You can still watch it on shows like Fear Factor.

Well, to some eating insets is certainly not gross. To some it is a delicacy. To others it is a food staple.

Believe it or not, in the US, we are starting to become interested in edible insects.

Wayne State University wants to tell you more about it. So on May 26-28 it will be the first place in the US to host a conference on edible insects. Eating Insects Detroit: Exploring the Culture of Insects as Food and Feed will be held at WSU’s Community Arts Auditorium and the surrounding main campus.

1444429385Julie Lesnik, assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Anthropology, spearheaded the idea. She go the idea after attending the first conference dedicated to edible insects in North America in Montreal. From that conference she decided Detroit’s entrepreneurial spirit would be wide open to learning about the value of eating insects.

“With the building interest in edible insects and the growing array of insect-based products, there is great opportunity to engage the public in discussions about their potential and issues surrounding food security and sustainability,”,” says Lesnik, who has a primary interest in the evolution of the human diet, specifically entomophagy, or eating insects.

​Lesnik’s has work includes research on the nutritional role termites would have fulfilled in the diet of South African robust australopithecines (extinct apelike primates) and identify which kinds of termites they would have eaten.

“WSU is exceptionally suited to host this conference as it brings decades of successful community-university collaborations confronting regional and global social and health issues,” Lesnik says.

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Julie Lesnik, assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Anthropology, has a primary interest in the evolution of the human diet, specifically entomophagy, or eating insects.

Here are some conference highlights.

On May 26-28 academic programming will include featured speakers, volunteered oral presentations, poster presentations and discussion panels.

If you want to taste some of those little bugs in a dinner setting stick around in the evening on May 26. Detroit Ento, a startup prototyping-farm focusing on insect protein for human food, and Salt and Cedar of Eastern Market, will host a culinary and educational event featuring a five-course meal with drink pairings featuring a range of edible insects. Seating is limited and tickets will be available through the Eating Insects Detroit conference website.

On May 27, there’s a free vendors’ expo. Different edible insect-inspired organizations and companies will feature their products and services. Expert “bug chefs” will prepare dishes for guests to sample and for a panel of judges to assess.

May 29 is family day for the Detroit community. A kid-focused event at the Michigan Science Center will feature edible insect snacks, a bug zoo, coloring, and other activities meant to teach children about the fascinating world of entomology while also exposing them to the benefits of edible insects.

This conference promises to be both educational and fun and could be an interesting family night out, especially if the kids are bugging you.

Registration is currently open. More information can be found on the conference’s website.

It might just be time to bug in, not bug out.

– Photos courtesy of Wayne State University. Top photo shows dried crickets made into cricket flour, which packs a lot of protein.

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