Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Little Herds Celebrates Eating Insects and a Sustainable Future of Food at the 9th Annual Bug Eating Festival Part II on Wednesday, July 13th
For the second year in a row, in.gredients is hosting the Bug (Eating) Festival – a celebration of entomophagy and the future of food organized by Little Herds, an Austin non-profit working to promote the use of insects for food and feed as an environmentally sound and economically viable source of nutrition.
A large crowd of local bug-enthusiasts gathered at in.gredients for Part I of the 9th Annual Bug (Eating) Festival on Saturday, June 4 to sample insect-infused treats, listen to live music by Josh Buckley and learn more about the role of bugs in our food system.
“It went great; we probably had 200 people there,” Little Herds President Robert Nathan Allen said. “We had booths for PEAS, Delysia Chocolatier, Slow Food Austin, Aketta, and Crickers Crackers. There was a kids’ activities table and a bunch of different treats like cricket rice krispie treats and cricket oatmeal cookies. Chef Rick Lopez from La Condesa did a cooking demonstration of how to make chapulines salsa.”
Due to the severe weather conditions during Part I of the 9th Annual Bug Eating Festival, Little Herds is holding a second Bug Eating Festival this year on Wednesday, July 13 from 5-9PM at in.gredients. The 9th Annual Bug Eating Festival Part II is an opportunity for insect-novices to taste bugs for the first time and for entomophagy enthusiasts like RNA to gather and share what they love about insects as a food of the future.
RNA’s initial interest in insect eating was sparked by a video on entomophagy that was sent to him as a joke, “I took it way too seriously,” he said. A year later RNA had gathered together a group of friends who were interested in eating bugs and raising awareness of the environmental and nutritional benefits of insects as an alternative protein source. Within six months, by December 2013, Little Herds had become a 501c3 non-profit committed to edible insect education.
“We should be thinking about our food before it hits our plate,” RNA said. “Little Herds’ mission is to educate our community about the benefits of eating insects – it addresses the broader questions of how we fix our broken food system. We are interested in insects as food and as livestock feed, and we are focused on our local community and global community. Austin was the perfect birthplace for Little Herds; there are a lot of cultural influences on our food scene. Austin already has a big paleo community, a big gluten-free community – there are a lot of people who want to keep it weird when it comes to what we eat here.”
Raising insects requires significantly less resources – water, space and feed – than the production of other forms of livestock. When RNA learned of the environmental sustainability and nutrient content of edible insects, he began experimenting with cricket flour. He brought one of his first batches of cricket cookies to the 5th Annual Bug Eating Festival.
“The festival was founded by Marjory Wildcraft. She started nine years ago with some friends and families who wanted to try bugs for the first time. They had such a blast they did it again, and more people showed up the next year, and it grew,” RNA said. “I got involved with this idea at the 5th Annual Bug Eating Festival; I brought some cricket flour cookies I baked and just fell in love with the idea. Since then I’ve helped organize the festival. Originally it was a way to get people together to try bugs, and now it’s grown as a way to see insects as a resource and to celebrate all the good work that’s happening in Austin around food and sustainability.”
Little Herds has gathered together a group of local bakers and chefs – Chef Rick Lopez from La Condesa, Aketta Cricket Flour, Crickers and Delysia Chocolatier – to bring insect-enriched treats to Part II of the 9th Annual Bug Eating Festival on Wednesday, July 13 for curious eaters to try. Taste the future of food and sustainable protein in the form of gourmet cricket cookies and chocolates, spiced mealworms and cricket salsa.
“One of the great things about edible insects is that if you don’t want to see them, you don’t have to – you can grind them up into flours,” RNA said. “It’s not a one-to-one replacement of regular flour, but you can sub in a portion of the flour in recipes, and you’ll still get that additional protein, iron and calcium that weren’t there before. Crickets have really good omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; they have fiber. It’s just mind-blowing how healthy they are, and we’ve just been missing out on it.”
Since Little Herd’s inception in June 2013, they have focused on educating children about entomophagy and getting kids excited to eat bugs. “We have educator kits designed to be taught at schools around Austin that can be catered to any age group,” RNA said. “If we get 1% of kids in Austin to eat insects, we can show how much water is saved and how much greenhouse gas is saved from just a small number people.” Part II of the 9th Annual Bug (Eating) Festival will feature even more activities for kids to learn about the benefits of bugs and how to eat them.
“Parents know it’s nutritious and environmentally beneficial, and kids don’t have built-in taboos,” RNA said. “Trends change throughout history. We’re trying to change the mentality that insects are gross food.”
Little Herds is part of a larger movement to repopularize eating insects as a sustainable protein alternative. Although entomophagy is practiced throughout the world in countries like Mexico, the idea is relatively new in the United States.
“It’s a cultural taboo that’s built up over time for a variety of reasons. As our ancestors moved up north from the equator and bugs got smaller, people stopped eating insects. Due to agriculture, bugs weren’t needed as a food supply,” RNA said. “There are a lot of places where eating insects is traditional, but for younger generations it’s starting to be seen as something your grandmother did. If we make eating insects part of our modern food culture it won’t have that effect. In Mexico, eating insects is still celebrated as a traditional food. There are restaurants throughout the country that serve traditional Oaxacan chapulines.”
Little Herds has three “core principles” it recommends to anyone interested in trying insects for the first time: be safe, be kind (to other eaters, insects and the planet) and be curious.
“It’s fun to surprise people but we want to make sure people are safe; if you have a shellfish allergy you may be allergic to insects,” RNA said. “If someone doesn’t want to try, that’s okay. Everyone has a food they don’t like, and they don’t need someone bullying them about it.”
Little Herds works to promote ethical insect farming that does not disturb local ecosystems. Insects can be safely and humanely harvested through freezing, “lowering their temperature like they would hibernate in the wild.”
“Be kind to the animals; insects are living creatures and sentient beings,” RNA said. “We are not saying go in your backyard and try bugs; you don’t know where those are from. If you harvest bugs from the wild they may have parasites or your neighbor may spray pesticides. Part of being safe is knowing where your food comes from – you should want to know where your food is grown and the way it’s processed. You want to know that it’s safe for animals.”
This summer, Little Herds launched a crowdfunding campaign through Barnraiser to expand their programs in Austin and abroad. Rewards for donating include a jar of Cricket Bolognese Pasta Sauce, a grow-your-own mealworms kit (that comes equipped with a mealworm cookbook and farm) and a cricket-chocolate making class with Delysia Chocolatier – make sure to donate and claim your reward before their crowdfunding deadline of midnight Friday, July 15.
“The first day we received an anonymous matching donation for up to $4000 if we reached our first goal by the following Saturday. The community rallied, and we hit our goal by Friday,” RNA said. “We have some really great stretch goals that are going to be impactful for the local Austin community.”
Little Herds is still working to meet their third fundraising goal of reaching $25,000, which will allow them to host the second ever “Eating Insects” conference in the U.S. next year in Austin. RNA attended “Eating Insects Detroit,” the first conference in the U.S. devoted to insects for food and feed, and came back inspired to do the same in Austin.
“The conference gave me a huge injection of energy and ideas,” RNA said. “Over 150 international business founders joined the conference along with insect farmers and experts leading research looking at the psychology and marketing of eating insects. There were film screenings, a pop-up insect dinner and a food truck-serving insects. The conference was a snapshot of what people are doing all around the world, and how this can apply to Austin. We were just blown away by how this conference went for its first year; bringing it to Austin next year just makes so much sense. We can make it coincide with the 10th Annual Bug Eating Festival.”
Similar to Part I of the 9th Annual Bug (Eating) Festival, Part II will have an Ento Raffle benefitting Little Herds Barnraiser campaign with insect cookbooks, edible insect t-shirts and tote bags, and baking ingredients like cricket flour and Delysia chocolate. The event is open to the public and entrance costs a suggested donation of $10 to Little Herds (kids are free!) – purchase tickets in advance online or at the door.
First time trying insects? Little Herds encourages people to check out their website for resources on how to eat insects safely.
Interested in getting your hands dirty and learning how to garden? Join us for our Garden Volunteer day this Saturday, 6/18 from 9-11:30AM! Email Josh at email@example.com to sign up.
Our ambitious ethos has garnered quite a bit of attention since our IndieGoGo campaign launched us into the public spotlight just about three years ago. People from across the globe applauded our efforts to reduce food-related waste in the grocery industry by pioneering a “package free” model. It’s been almost two years of holding close to our original, idealistic vision of a different kind of grocery store, and though the response from the community – near and far – has remained positive and supportive, the numbers from our first 21 months of business paint a different picture than we had hoped.
Rather than give up and lament the impossibility of a perfect package free grocery model, we are narrowing our focus to three things we know we do well: zero waste, local food, and community. As a result, we hope to remain a part of the sustainable food movement, a part of this vibrant and growing city, and a part of this dynamic, diverse community on Manor Road. We plan to bend so as not to break, pivot to not fall, and innovate towards what’s pioneering but not impossible.
In practice, this shift means discontinuing a portion of our bulk section to make room for some new offerings. Our updated guiding principles look like this:
Zero waste: We average less landfill waste per month than an American averages per day!
Local food: As a hub for quality local products, we champion small farms and producers and promote local, seasonal eating. Some might say we have farmers market offerings with grocery store hours.
Community: Community gatherings – formal and informal, educational and social – are a regular happening around here. Plus, we love to partner with and support like-minded businesses and organizations that are also committed to a greener, more just world.
Still have some questions? Check out our updated FAQ page. We hope you’ll rally behind us as we make these changes and help us stick around for the duration.
The in.gredients Team
Last night we were lucky enough to play host to a crowd of intelligent, motivated, and committed environmentalists with one thing in common: a dedication to the human consumption of bugs. Recently we published a blog post explaining why we are jumping into the world of entomophagy (pun intended). Last night’s inspired and informed guests, curious (and pleasantly surprised!) first-time bug-eaters, and general spirit of collaboration and optimism, affirmed our commitment to this growing movement.
In the buzz of last night’s event preparation, Harman from World Ento turned to in.gredients for a simple teriyaki sauce to use in his cricket cooking demo. Erica, a veteran team member and the creative force behind our weekly salads (among other things), sprang into action and pulled together this impromptu “bug sauce.” To say the crowd was impressed and pleased with the results is an understatement.
Well, here’s the recipe, by popular demand!
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 2 tsp ground giner
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tsp turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- Combine all the ingredients except the oil
- Drizzle the sesame oil into the mixture while whisking to emulsify.
- Enjoy! On crickets, a salad, chicken, or stir-fry!
We’re all about new ideas.
We’re also into revitalizing old ideas that have gone by the wayside. Eliminating unnecessary food packaging and focusing on locally and sustainably grown foods are good examples of old ideas made new again, and so is this: eating insects. Entomophagy, as it’s formally known, is a practice dating back thousands of years. Today, however, Western cultures hardly know the first thing about eating bugs, even though many other culinary traditions (Mexico, Thailand, and China, to name a few) still consume insects with regularity. As far as we’re concerned, insects are overdue for a resurgence in the West, and we’re not the only ones who think so.
Since 2010 when the idea of in.gredients was born, entomophagy has been on our list of creative solutions to environmental and social problems. Only recently, however, did we connect with two groups here in Austin leading the way in edible insects. World Ento, founded in Georgia in 2010 and recently re-located to Austin, is setting industry standards for safe, sustainably-raised insects. Little Herds, an Austin non-profit in its final days of a crowd-funding campaign, is on a mission to educate the public about the merits and joys of eating insects.
What are those merits, you ask? Insects are a highly efficient and nutritious source of protein (complete with all 9 essential amino acids), which makes insects far more viable in a resource-limited future than traditional sources. To give some context, the resources required to raise one pound of beef can raise nine pounds of crickets. That’s a significant difference, and one we simply can’t afford to ignore as population growth and resource depletion continue.
So how does one eat insects? Well, with over 2,000 edible species, the options are almost endless. Chefs from all over the States, including Austin’s own Sonya Cote, are already incorporating insects into their menus. Not excited about a whole cricket on the end of your fork? That’s fine, World Ento makes both cricket and mealworm flours that incorporate safely prepared insect meal into white or whole wheat flour. From there, the possibilities range from chocolate chip cookies, to pancakes, to just about any recipe involving flour. It’s a simple way to add a healthy, sustainable protein, and the insect flavor and texture are hardly detectable.
World Ento raises and sells clean, safe-to-eat, and ethically harvested insects (Good Karma Killing, as World Ento calls it, is a freezing process that lulls them into a painless stasis), and soon you’ll be able to find them (as a Chocolate “Chirp” Cookie Mix) at in.gredients!
Want to learn more? Follow World Ento and Little Herds on Twitter, and come out to our pre-party (for this amazing event) next Tuesday, February 18th. We’ll have tons of samples and a few of the big names in entomophagy on hand to talk to you in person about this exciting movement. Hop on board – you won’t want to miss this one.