Cricket, Anyone?

Sarah Gabriel has a solution for the pending cicada invasion: eat them. Stir fry, serve over whole grain rice, and add soy sauce to taste.

“We should have parties to catch them, but, unlike many other countries in the world, the U.S. doesn’t have a food culture that is informed by natural cycles,” says Gabriel, Founder and Managing Director of The Home Grown Institute.

On Sunday, June 30, Gabriel will run an Up Close & Personal Workshop at The Home Grown Institute to educate participants about these natural cycles and modern-day homesteading (indoor composting, aquaponics, backyard chickens, beekeeping, kombucha-brewing), as well as the facts, challenges and cultural perceptions of eating insects. Participants will cook and taste cricket dishes like spicy sautéed cricket fritters with a nutty dipping sauce with Chef Glenn Bergman, General Manager of Weavers Way Co-op. (Fun fact: Crickets are arthropods, just like shrimp.) Registration for the four-hour workshop (1 to 5 p.m.) is $29 plus a $10 materials fee prior to June 9. The price increases to $39 +$10 on June 15. After June 21, a late registration fee kicks in, and the cost is $49 + $10 for materials.

Gabriel acknowledges that eating insects has a high “yuck factor”; she feels it, too, and will be eating insects for the first time alongside the workshop participants. But she wants to examine why we say “yuck.”

“What's disgusting and what's delicious depends more on your culture than your stomach,” Gabriel writes on The Home Grown Institute blog, quoting the 2009 film Bugs for Breakfast. Those who are game to eat insects may find that it takes effort to overcome their aversion, to acknowledge and shift cultural habits, and to understand why and how eating insects could be valuable, and even enjoyable.

The workshop is running alongside the Big Bugs exhibit at Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill (April 1 – August 31). Both The Home Grown Institute and the Arboretum believe that eating insects is not just a novelty for the adventurous eater, but a sustainable way to feed the earth’s growing population, a nutritious way to feed the body, and a kind and instinctual way to work with our native food supply.

Those who attend the Up Close & Personal Workshop at The Homegrown Institute will be invited to be docents for the Arboretum’s evening Bug Crawl: Food & Drink Pairings for the 21st Century event on Wednesday, July 17.  The docents will challenge guests to examine and reconsider their food culture beliefs.

“There has to be early adopters,” says Gabriel. “Somebody’s got to try it first.”

For more information about and to register visit: http://www.thehomegrowninstitute.org/Events

More information about the Big Bugs exhibit at Morris Arboretum can be found at http://www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/events_big-bugs.shtml