Friday, October 31, 2008

Minilivestock Survey

Hi all! Please help me out and answer this short survey the best way you can, and send your answers to: Your input is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your help!

  1. What is the most “exotic” food you have eaten? How did you feel before and after?

  2. What kinds of animal organs/body parts have you eaten?

  3. Would you eat an insect? Why or why not?

  4. What would make you feel comfortable/uncomfortable eating insects?

  5. Tell me a story or your relationship with insects.

  6. Was there a time in your life when you changed your diet and why?


*The following information is optional and will not be released to anyone. You may be contacted for further questions or clarification.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Insect Fine Dining

I found it interesting how most information I've researched on Entomophagy dining is somehow related to "upper-end dining."

These are questions for all my readers, chefs, culinary experts or eaters, etc. out there--have you encountered this upscale insect dining experience? Are there any restaurants (lower or upper) that is off my radar? If not restaurants, WHERE HAVE YOU EATEN INSECTS? How did you feel? Please share your experience(s). Thanks!

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VIDEO // Fly in Your Soup? Yes, Please!

The Gastronauts in New York is a group club of self-professed adventurous diners who occasionally meet to explore varieties of global cuisines. Sunrise Land Shrimp's David Gracer also makes an appearance as the head chef of the their dining exploration.

Eating insects in Western cultures is still very new. The video mirrors both the openness and reservations that most of us still have about Entomophagy. Keeping an open mind and attitude, like the Gastronauts, can be helpful when exposing yourself to global cuisines and cultures, as well as understanding different ideas and related issues.

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Super Bowl Party

The owners of The Spotted Pig "gastro-pub" (a British subgenre bar serving simple, straightforward food) threw their hardworking staff a Super Bowl Party at La Esquina Taqueria in NYC this year. The menu that night served everything from whole pig to crab tostadas to chipalines baby crickets. The chipalines were served along side other bar snacks such as chips, salsa, and guacamole. The chipalines may not have been the main dish of the night, but just including it on the menu with more popular dishes is a way to introduce Entomophagy as part of normal dining.

Check out the Spotted Pig Dinner Menu

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Entomophagy seems to have also caught the attention of a few upscale restaurants.

Typhoon in Santa Monica, CA is one of them. Their menu is categorized by meat, and one of those categories impressively includes insects, right below the crab cakes and tuna tartar.

RADIO // Hear more about Typhoon and Entomophagy on NPR's Insects Get a Tasty Makeover report by Ki Min Sung, February 29, 2008.

Vij's restaurant in Vancouver, BC, Canada is a restaurant known for not serving food that is typically expected from most Indian restaurants. They may not have as an extensive insect option as Typhoon, but their Spicy paranta made with roasted, ground cricket and chapati flour sure sounds good.

Check out the Eating bugs fine in many cultures article in the Calgary Herlad. The article notes that Vij's paratha is temporarily off the menu, awaiting approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency since there are currently no regulations on insects as food.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Farmers' Market Goodness

A group of us from class went to the Alemany Farmers' Market in the Bernal Heights neighborhood last weekend. I can't get enough of farmers' markets! It's fun and satisfying to browse for fresh, cheap produce sold directly from local farmers. It must be the hunter-gatherer in us, except way more convenient and modern.

It's especially great if you make it into a group excursion. I had no idea the people I was with was so passionate about food. The conversations surrounding food were great, everyone had their own special something to add, and I learned so much about food just from that trip alone. I also picked up a few new things. I bought produce that I haven't normally bought or incorporated into my food, such as pumpkin and okra.Here's Niki posing with a gargantuan bundle of lemongrass that she got only for $1! Below is a picture courtesy of the lemongrass queen. How It's Made: Below, is an example of my usual improv cooking, introducing the pumpkin. This time, I made a coconut rice with pumpkin dish. Most of the ingredients I already had in the house. I cooked the rice, coconut milk, onions, shallots, curry powder, cumin, parsley, salt, pepper, and water in a big pot. While that was going, I baked a bulb of garlic and the cubed pumpkin with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. After it was done baking, I added it to the pot with the rest of the ingredients. In addition to the rice dish, I also made some insect flour out of superworms with pepper flakes, salt, and pepper on the side as an added nutritional option.The Verdict: I've never made this dish before, nor really cooked rice in a pot, but I thought this came out pretty nicely (kind of risotto-y). The rice was nice and creamy, and the insect flour was spicy and full of roasted flavor and aroma. My roommate initially had some reservations about having insects in her food, but she was curious and would give it a try...and she loved it! She gives this dish her seal of approval.

The first and following pictures are courtesy of Caroline.
The atmosphere and treasures you may find at a farmers' markets can inspire you to be creative in your cooking. It has opened me to think of new possibilities in my cooking, and made me try things I wouldn't normally do.

The sense of community is alive at these farmers' markets, which you don't normally feel from a grocery store. They are there every week providing people local goods that is extremely affordable, fresh, and sustainable. The vendors and customers are also all very knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly.If you haven't gone to a farmers market, I suggest you go at least once and with some friends. Hop on a bike, bus, carpool, or what have you, and make a morning or afternoon of it. Food is connected to community and conversation, so I suggest you cook one up.Find a local farmers' market near you:

(N. California)
Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Larvae, and Pupae, and Beetles...Oh, My

Last week, I bought 2 more containers with dividers for the superworms, so hopefully the 3 total I have now will help get more superworms to pupate. To review, superworms need to be isolated from each other so they are not stressed about the possibility of being eaten by their siblings when they are in their vulnerable state.

Earlier this week, I was excited to see that 2 of the mealworm pupae were metamorphosing into the next stage of beetle adulthood. It's amazing how quickly these mealworms transform. It's the beginning of a new week and I now have 12 beetles and counting!

But the best news was that just as I thought my superworm rearing was at a loss, I discovered yesterday that 1 of the 12 superworms in the inital isolation box turned into a pupa! I did have to wait 20 days, but finally seeing one that has moved onto the next stage is extremely exciting.

I haven't tried using a heat lamp yet, but my guess is that the slightly warmer weather we've been having this past week probably helped a little? The ideal temperature to raise them is around 75F, but I think we've been averaging around 70F in our house.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This is The Colbert Report

Guest David Gracer, entomological gastronomist and founder of Sunrise Land Shrimp. David Gracer cooks up a delicious plate of insects and invites Stephen to join in the feast. Wednesday, February 13, 2008

David has been an active contributor, advocate, and public educator of Entomophagy. He attended the FAO conference “Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back” in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he gave a paper this year. David is also an English teacher at the Community College of Rhode Island. Please check out his site for more information: and his blog:

Here are a few articles featuring David Gracer:
Man Bites Insect
By Sam Nejamed
The New York Times
Published: February 10, 2008

Want to Help the Environment? Eat Insects.
By Josie Glausiusz
Discover Magazine
Published online: May 7, 2008

“Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.’s; bugs are the bicycles.”

“If you want to feed a lot of people, insects are the best choice in terms of getting the biggest bang for your buck.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Eat Approx. 1 lb of Bugs a Year (Unintentionally)

Q: Knowing this, how do people out there feel? Would you rather not know?

"'It's estimated that the average human eats one pound (half a kilogram) of insects each year unintentionally,' says Lisa Monachelli, director of youth and family programs at New Canaan Nature Center in Connecticut.

Cochineal insects give a red or pink coloring to foods, lipsticks, and beverages. The small, scaled bugs are listed as cochineal extract on the ingredient list.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also allows certain levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods, as long as they doesn't pose a health risk.

For example, chocolate can have up to 60 insect fragments per 100 grams, tomato sauce can contain 30 fly eggs per 100 grams, and peanut butter can have 30 insect fragments per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), according to the FDA. "

This excerpt was taken from the Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back article.

You can check out the FDA's regulation here:
Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans

Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back Article

Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back
By Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
April 16, 2004

Didn't mean to post another one from National Geographic, but I thought this one was pretty interesting. The article talks about how more people in America, including the young generation, are being educated and more open to trying insects. It also mentions the likeliness of humans adopting insects as a source of protein in the future.

"Today, U.S. children are not as squeamish about bugs as their parents, thanks to nature centers, museums, and zoos throughout the country that frequently teach school programs about insects as food sources.

Older students are learning about entomophagy too. About 12 insect festivals are held each year, like the Bug Bowl at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The popular festival started in 1990 and attracts more than 10,000 people. Besides munching on chocolate-covered crickets, visitors can go to an insect petting zoo, cockroach race, or cricket-spitting contest.

Most Americans don't intentionally make insects a part of their diet. But in the future they might. As more strain is put on natural resources, some experts say, insects will be raised as an alternative form of protein."

Insect Eating Promoted Video

Photo courtesy of

Defne is awesome and sent this me this video: Insect Eating Promoted

There was actually a 3 day workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand where international researchers and experts attended to discuss the use of insects in the human diet. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) experts say despite their appearance, they are highly nutritious and some may have the same amount of protein as meat and fish.

The video also touches on topics such as modernization and Western attitudes on eating insects.

The Chiang Mai french fries look good!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mac & Worms

Super tired after class, so I threw together a quick dinner. I wanted something a little more nutritious than just plain mac n cheese, so I threw in some protein. Almost no preparation was needed. I froze the worms while the mac was boiling, and by the time the mac was finished, the worms were ready to be taken out of the freezer and cooked. Instead of making worm flour this time, I decided to try dicing them instead.I used Trader Joe's Organic Shells and White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese and sauteed some garlic, onion, basil, parsley, pepper, and superworms.

The superworms didn't taste like much since the garlic was overpowering. The texture reminded me of the popped kernel skins (you know, the thin tan-colored parts that get stuck in your teeth) when you eat popcorn. That, or onion skin...sorry, those are the best ways I can describe it. You'll have to try them yourself! YUM!

Time Magazine Article

Photo courtesy of

"...entomophagy...could also be a far greener way to get protein than eating chicken, cows or pigs. With the global livestock sector responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions and grain prices reaching record highs, cheap, environmentally low-impact insects could be the food of the future--provided we can stomach them."

Eating Bugs Article
Thursday, May. 29, 2008
Health & Science / Going Green section

Don't miss the "How to Cook a Bug" video with David George Gordon at the end of the article!

Also, check out the Bug Cuisine photo essay.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Minilivestock Flickr

You can now follow Minilivestock on Flickr!
Feel free to add us & check out the extra photos. Thanks!

I Got Worms

I finally got mealworms! I got these from the Animal Connection in the Sunset. They were 100 for $3 and come in a container of bran, which I later dumped all 6 containers in a larger plastic container. They're smaller and softer than the superworms I have already. Mealworms aren't as high maintenance as the superworms when it comes to rearing cause they don't need to be separated to pupate (like the picture below).I upgraded from large random containers to a more compact superworm cubical, which makes it easier to handle.