The UCSB Zero Waste Committee is hosting Bug-B-Q today at the Arbor, welcoming students to snack on insect-based culinary creations including Bug Burgers, Mini Bug Chili Bowls and Bug Dumplings.
The event will run from noon to 3 p.m. and will include information on the nutritional benefits of eating insects. Recipes for the insect-based culinary choices hide these creatures inside each food and are inspired by the rising ecological perspective that views insects as sustainable food sources.
Lauren Menzer, co-chair of the Zero Waste Committee and second-year environmental studies and political science double major, said the Bug-B-Q provides students a different angle on seemingly repulsive creatures. For this reason, Menzer encourages attendance of both those who are willing and those who are unwilling to consume insects.
“We’d like to have a high attendance just to get the word out and have high enthusiasm, because it’s something really obscure,” Menzer said. “[It is] just to teach the people there asking questions, even if they don’t eat any of the bugs, just to have it on their radar the next time they go to a restaurant or foreign country.”
According to Izzy Parnell-Wolfe, vice-chair of the Zero Waste Committee and third-year global studies major, all bug snacks offered at the event will be cooked into appetizing and visually appealing arrangements, rather than just a “platter of bugs.”
“I think that everyone, at some point in their life, wants to try eating a bug. So it’s kind of like ‘Survivor’ in a sense. I was surprised there was a lot of pretty positive feedback,” Parnell-Wolfe said. “Obviously, there will be people who are hesitant and very uncertain about what we are doing, but if you come with an open mind, it will be fun.”
The Bug-B-Q concept came from Zero Waste Committee member Elise Rosky, who held a similar, smaller event earlier in the year. According to Menzer, Rosky sought to make today’s event more public, striving to attract more attendees and challenge Western attitudes of revulsion at eating bugs.
Insects will provide an important source of protein in the future, when Earth’s carrying capacity will potentially be unable to support exponentially increasing agricultural resources and farms, Menzer said.
The push for global acceptance of eating bugs within the field of entomology, a branch of zoology dealing with the study of insects, has surfaced prominently in recent discussions about sustainability, according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2013 report presented earlier this month entitled, “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.”
The report offered evidence pointing to increased world consumption of insects as socially, environmentally and economically helpful for all communities.
UCSB Environmental Studies Professor David Cleveland said the transition to an insect-inclusive diet may reduce the negative impact of current food production systems.
“Our current agrifood system, especially the animal portion, is responsible for high levels of ecological damage including global warming, biodiversity loss, human disease and hunger,” Cleveland said in an email. “Eating insects has the potential to be a lot more sustainable than eating domestic birds and large mammals and wild ocean life.”
However, Cleveland also said an insect diet is not significantly more nutritious than current non-meat sources.
“On the other hand, we don’t need to eat even tiny animals, insects, etc. to obtain required nutrients. Vegetarian and vegan diets are very adequate,” Cleveland said in an email.
According to Parnell-Wolfe, the Bug-B-Q will provide an opportunity for students to consider different methods of living sustainability.
“We’re trying to show people that there are so many fun and crazy solutions out there that are actually pretty plausible and can have a huge impact, and we really just need to keep our minds open,” Parnell-Wolfe said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Bug-B-Q Event Page
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of May 23rd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.