Insects are the largest animal species in the world, so if you can’t beat ‘em, the staff at Plum Creek Nature Center says you should try to eat 'em.
Barbecue and apple pie flavor crickets and sea salt mealworms have been ordered in bulk for the new “Eat a Bug” program. The program takes place from noon to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 1 at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township.
Program participants will be invited to crunch away on these interesting insect snacks, which is something 80 percent of nations are already doing.
“People can just come to the front desk and we will have them in a bowl,” said Suzy Lyttle, an interpretive naturalist for the District.
While the program will be fun, and Lyttle said she expects people to get a kick out of chomping into crunchy crickets and mouthwatering mealworms, there is a more serious point to the offering. Bugs use less water, land and feed than traditional livestock.
“Insects are actually more sustainable than meat,” she said. “These bugs can be raised in little containers at home. So they take fewer resources to produce and they provide even more protein and amino acids and nutrients. And they’re low in calories. So people are growing their own crickets and supplementing them into their meals. They’re a cleaner way to get food.”
The “Eat a Bug” program ties in with the nature center’s “What’s Bugging Belva” exhibit, which runs through November 30, too, and is designed to transport visitors into the world of bugs.
The two programs and others offered during Belva’s stay are designed to help people learn about insects, appreciate bugs and understand what they do for the environment and how they are a global food source.
“I hope people widen their horizons on what bugs can be,” Lyttle said. “People are so fearful and say ‘Eww, bugs!’ But they’re beneficial and people all over the world eat them.”
And if you’re squeamish about experiencing the texture of a seasoned insect, Lyttle recommends you try some cricket flour or powder to get started. And as it turns out, she added, most of us are already eating buggy products, we just don’t know it.
“People eat honey and that’s basically just bee spit,” she said. “And the shine on ice cream sprinkles comes from resin secreted by the Indian lac bug.”
Anyone who eats a bug at Plum Creek Nature Center will get a sticker, toy or button to commemorate their close encounter with crunchy insects. And smaller boxes of flavored insects are on sale in the gift shop in case you want to take home a goody bag.
There is only one group of people who should shy away from the bug-eating experience, Lyttle added.
“They do say if you’re allergic to shellfish, you’re probably allergic to eating insects,” she said.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.