For 34 years, insects have been on the menu at Montana State University's "Bug Buffet." The insects this year include crickets, black ants, chapulines and mealworm powder.

Whether just for snacking or a full-course meal(worm), the one-of-a-kind event will center on the history of edible insects in the West's indigenous culture. Historians say that Great Basin tribes and nations included food insects as one of two main meats to provide essential nutrients.

The centerpiece event will be Monday, February 28, from 12 noon to 5p.m. at the MSU Strand Union Building, Ballroom A. MSU President Waded Cruzado will welcome everyone at 1 p.m., with the free delectables served up after that, prepared by the MSU Food Service. A warning - if you are allergic to shellfish, edible insects can trigger that type of allergy. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be at 6:30 p.m. in Inspirational Hall.

This year, expect to sample:

  • Pumpkin bread with cricket or mealworm powder
  • Salsa with scorpions (Spicy)
  • Salsa with chapulines (mild)
  • Tamales with black ants
  • Wild rice, juniper berry sauce, cedar-braised chapulines
  • Pemmican with sunflower seeds and chaulines
  • At 7 p.m. Monday, chef Sean Sherman, founder and CEO of The Sioux Chef (which promotes idigenous cuisine) will be keynote speaker at Inspiration Hall in Norm Asbjornson Hall. Sean owns a Minneapolis, Minnesota, restaurant called Owamni. And that's just Day One of the Bug Buffet week.

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    Tuesday, March 1 at 4 p.m. - Jeff Tomberlin, of the Center for Environmental Sustainability will talk about insect farming and circular agriculture at Room 108 of the Plant Biosciences Building.

    Wednesday, March 2 at 1 pm - The PBS NOVA documentary "Edible Insects" will be shown at the Procrastinator Theatre. And insect snacks will be available!

    Thursday, March 3 - A day of presentations and workshops centered on historic indigenous menus at the American Indian Hall Great Room. Speakers include anthropologist Mark Q. Sutton, chef Brian Yazzie, chef Kay Ann Miller, MSU executive chef Jill Flores and Jeff Tomberlin. MSU's dining halls will be serving insect dishes based on indigenous recipes.

    Saturday, March 5 - From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a student "Bug Cuisine Cook-off" will be in the Hannon Hall teaching kitchen. The public is invited.

    The first MSU insect feast was in February 1989 and has been held in February ever since. That first insect was a Montana grasshopper and was served to MSU students only, Since then, the event has swarmed ever larger. The organizing committee wants to raise awareness of insects as a food and as a feed ingredient to reduce the footprint of agriculture in the nation. For more information, check the bug buffet website.

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