Chocolate bark with a cricket drizzle and cricket flour chocolate chip cookies were just some of the unique snacks fairgoers at the "Insect Deli" feasted on.
On Saturday, Penn State's Department of Entomology and the College of Agricultural Sciences hosted their annual Great Insect Fair at the Snider Agricultural Arena. This year's fair was mainly focused on entomophagy — the human practice of eating insects.
"[The insect deli] is used to introduce people to eating insects,” Head Librarian of Life Science Library Amy Paster said. “In North America, people generally do not eat insects, even though it's an excellent protein source and is a lot easier on the environment."
Paster said one cow needs 2,000 gallons of water to bring it to market, while one pound of crickets only takes a single gallon of water.
Other recipes served at the Insect Deli included caramel corn with wax worms and Chili Chex mix with roasted mealworms.
"I think it's important to have this fair,” Rubain Henry (senior-biology) said. “People have a misconception about eating bugs, and it's interesting to know you can eat them."
"Other parts of the world really like their insects, and people in Europe and America don't — they have a ‘yuck’ factor,” Audrey Maretzki, emerita professor in Penn State's Department of Food Science and Nutrition said. “So we are just trying to overcome that yuck factor and make [insects] the kind of thing that people understand is a nutritionally valuable food."
"In Africa, there is a lot of work going on using cricket flour to use in infant-weaning food because it's very expensive to get meat in their country,” Maretzki added.
Paster said that although more companies are creating new ways to eat insects, such as power bars, there are still no rules and regulation from the USDA on cricket flour. Because there are no regulations, cricket flour is sold at an expensive price.
"Processing crickets and keeping them clean is not easy enough to do yet, so it's still considered a specialty item," Paster said. "So it's whatever the market demands."
Maretzki said she believes, in the future, people will need to find a way to cultivate a source of protein in a smaller area, due to the impact of increasing construction on previous farmland.
While the "Insect Deli" became the large focus of the fair, other attractions included two Monarch butterfly tents, cockroach races, honey tastings and an insect zoo that included live exhibits.
From millipedes to giant desert hair scorpions, the insect zoo had a variety of different insects. Fairgoers were able to hold the Tanzanian Tailless Whip Scorpion, otherwise famously known from the scene in the movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” when one of the characters, Mad-Eye Moody, performed the three unforgivable curses in his Defense Against the Dark Arts class.