Bugs Before Dessert

The dinner plate of 2050 might look a little different than it does today. Increasingly complex issues surrounding global population growth and food production may require us to open our minds to alternative food sources, including insects.

That’s the premise of Bugs, a film that will screen at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival from March 29-April 9.

Entomophagy is the technical term for eating bugs. Here in the US, we’re not as familiar or open-minded to the idea, but bugs have been consumed by people of many cultures for thousands of years.

Bugs chronicles a global journey of a chef and a food researcher from the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, as they explore insects from a gastronomic point of view. There are more than 1 million species of insects. Not all are edible, but many have been discovered to be rich in protein and healthy fats. This has piqued the interests of scientists, anthropologists, and others who study global poverty and hunger. Could insects be a viable food source? Will people accept bugs on their plates?

We did not have to look very far in our own backyard to find adventurous culinary minds. Taking advantage of the 17-year cicada invasion this past summer, Edible Cleveland contributor and local forgaging expert Jeremy Umansky prepared  a cicada po’ boy sandwich using bugs he collected, breaded, and fried. He notes that they really aren’t much different than shrimp or soft-shell crabs in the way they can be prepared.

The western palate might be slow to adapt to the idea of eating farmed termite queens, waxworms, or caterpillars. Bugs looks us square in the eye and asks “why not?”

Watch the film on Monday, April 3, at 11:25am, or Tuesday, April 4, at 7:50pm and be prepared to ask yourself some hard questions like “How is eating caviar any different than eating ant larvae?”

Tickets for the Cleveland International Film Festival go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 18, at 11am. View a full schedule and order tickets at www.clevelandfilm.org. Watch the trailer for the film here.

–Lisa Sands