Ross School - Senior Projects 2011

 

Student: Faith Humbles

Mentor: Hugh McGuiness

Domain(s): Science, Wellness

 

 

 

Product                            

 

Title: Bug Appétit by Faith Humbles

Description:

For my Senior Project, I studied the practice of entomophagy from a cultural and nutritional aspect. I wrote three essays that took a further look into individual cultures and their utilization of insects within daily life and how they are good for one’s well being. I also created dishes in which I used recipes from around the world that integrate insects into their recipes. I was able to display these dishes at a booth outside of the café in order to open the Ross community up to the idea of using insects as a source of food. I got people to think more of insects as flavor and protein as much as any other type of food. In my third essay I wrote about my experiences with the bug lunch as well as my findings when it came to the psychological effects of the people who participated in my booth. Through this project I got to explore and eat many different things that I’ve never expected to eat. In a way it made me feel like a more open person who has a better appreciation for food.

Details:

I worked on my essay researched different case studies, nutrition and how insects contribute to the metabolic system and my Bug Appétit event.

 

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Materials Used:

-Variety of insects (scorpions, chinese cockroaches, silkworm pupae, etc)

-Food ingredients (pork, pizza doe, chinese bulbs, etc.)

-Cooking utensils (pots, pans, ladels, etc)

-Computer (wrote my essays)

 

Methods Used:

The essays were written in a scientific format that included graphs and comparisons.

The food was cooked in a way that included a flow chart so that we can get all of the food finished quickly and at the same time.

 

 

Papers (1, 2, 3)

 

PowerPoint

 

Abstract

 

I created an insect lunch that included a variety of insect dishes both traditional and non-traditional. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that people was not only eating the food eating the food but was excited and intrigued by it and the booth was a insect big hit.

      I chose to do three essays that explored entomophagy from a nutritional aspect (meaning I wrote about the health benefit the goes along with insect consumption), cultural aspect (meaning I wrote on case studies of entomophagy around the world) and wrote a reflection on my bug appétit event. The case studies that I wrote about in my cultural essay were about mopane worm consumption in South Africa and chapulines or grasshopper consumption in Oaxaca Mexico. My focus was how they utilize the insects for food, financial income and means of collection (how they acquired the insects). I found that these cases were similar in the sense that both of these species of insects contributed to the economy of the region, were cheap sources of nutrition and are utilized by poor rural families. I also found these cases to be different in the sense that mopane worms are non-domesticated, meaning that they are picked straight from the wild and chapulines are domesticated meaning that they are collected in more controlled environments. Also the affects on the insect populations were different. Mopane worms are being overharvested which puts them in danger of becoming extinct, whereas chapulines aren’t in danger. I also found how healthy mopane worms are by contributing large amounts of protein and how unhealthy chapulines because of high amounts of lead contamination. Through this essay I was able to better understand the importance of insects in some cultures around the world and how reliant some people are towards insects.

   In my nutritional essay, I researched the fundamentals of nutrition and how insects can contribute to the bodies metabolic system. I broke my essay into sections like I’d have a paragraph or more on protein, then on carbohydrates and amino acids and so on. I’d find information like the Chitin or exoskeleton of the insect is indigestible and acts as a fiber, which regulates digestion and helps bowel movement or that insect contain unsaturated fats that easily pass through arteries without clogging them, resulting in a healthy heart. Also insects contain calories that can match or even surpass the food that we’d normally eat when eaten in certain quantities. Now this may not seem appealing to a westerner but for poor countries without access to calories, insects can be utilized for survival and have become intergraded into many diets around the world. So from this essay I concluded that yes insects are good for you and yes one could live of off eating them.

   My third essay was originally suppose to be on entomophagys affect on the environment but Patty and Mcguinness came up with the idea of having me write on my experience with the Bug Appétit insect lunch and my conclusions from it. I found many conclusions in my bug appétit essay.  I found it interesting that people preferred the crunchy insects over the more gooey insects that had squishy textures. I found it true that people tended to enjoy the crunchy sensation instead of the gooey feel, making them even more aware of what they were eating which for some resulted in nausea. While eating the insects it seemed like people went through psychological stages where they had to mentally prepare themselves, fork it down, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.  Some of the correspondents said that it wasn’t the problem of eating the insect, it was just when they reflected on it, that they felt a sense of queasiness which brings back the idea that insects being gross or disgusting. An idea that I found to be most prevalent in correspondents that wouldn’t try the food. I found that people already seemed to have preconceived views of what is edible and what isn’t.

   I started my thinking process and came up with many unsuccessful ideas for a senior project. I knew it was going to be something that included insects but I didn’t know exactly what. I thought of spider communication which is the way that spiders speak to each other through actions and I also thought of spider vs. man which would basically be a project about what life would be like if spiders were life size and how bad that would be for mankind. Both of those failed because when I did actually think about what it would be like to do those projects, it just seemed dreadfully boring. So I figured I’d do my project on something I loved and I like insects and I love food so I put them together and decided I’d do my project on entomophagy.

 During summer,  as I said, I did a lot of summer reading so that it would be easy for me to start my essays once school started. I got a chance to go to North Carolina where I went to a festival called ‘bug fest’ that had tons of buggy activities like a flea circus and a bee keeper booth but the best thing they had in regards to my project was insect food. Surprisingly the line was really long but I got to try a lot of new bug food for the first time. It was hard and I definitely had to mentally prepare myself but I did it. And after the festival I was so excited to start my project. I also got a chance to meet my outside consultants for the first time and he gave me a lot of advice on how I should go about writing my essays.

   I knew I wanted to have some type of event but I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to do it. All I knew was that I wanted to bring insect food to the Ross School. Devon Parkes gave me the idea of having a bug lunch near the café. I spoke to McGuiness about it and we agreed that it would be a good learning experience for both the Ross school students and I.

  The recipes were difficult to figure out because I could only use recipes that incorporated the insects that I bought and at the time my mentor and I disagreed on just using American recipes or recipes from different cultures. I wanted to use more Americanized recipes because I felt that people would be more familiar with these dishes and would be more inspired to try them. He wanted more traditional recipes from a variety cultures to show the diversity of entomophagy. I felt that people would already have to get over eating a dish from another culture and put insects on top of that and no one is going to want to try it! In the end I did understand where my mentor was coming from and gave in, creating both traditional and non-traditional recipes.

 organizing with the café was the easier part because Liz was pretty easy-going about everything and they were willing to help with whatever I needed. The only thing that I think bothered her was the constant changing of the date but besides that they were pretty optimistic. The hardest part was making decisions. Deciding on the recipes, the decoration of the booth, what periods I wanted to have it, etc. Were really things that I had to think about to get it to be the way that I wanted it do be. I also worried about cooking the food on time. We had to  finish every by 5th period since that’s every bodies lunch. We started cooking early in the morning til that afternoon. But we were able to make it so everything was aesthetically pleasing and appealed to the taste buds.

  After the insect lunch, the winter became the busiest season for me because It was crunch time for college applications and scholarships. Between working with my college counselor and trying to keep up in school, I didn’t get a lot of time to do my senior project. So it was constantly being pushed as my 2nd and 3rd priority.

 Learning to write a research paper seemed like the most complicated thing in the world. I needed to sound like an expert with facts and examples and neat APA citations which was just tedious. The ross databases became my best friend along with Google scholar. I was able to find all of the professional journals and essays that I needed and I was able to write my essays in a way that was both professional and crisp as one would say.

 

 

 

 

 

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Outside Consultant

David Gracer, is a college professor, writer and entomophagist. He is the creator of Small Stock Foods. Small Stock Foods is a food company that has invested in creating a steady insect food source that allows people to partake in entomophagy at a reasonable cost. He is also a widely known entomophagist. He relates to my project because he teaches people about entomophagy, have written articles on entomophagy and caters food that includes insects.  He gave me advice on what to include in my essays and told me ways in which I could cook my insects.

 

My outside consult and I e-mailed each other back and forth and he told me what species of insects he sold me, where they were from and the best ways to cook them.

 

During my bug event, my mentor and I called him and asked what he thought of the dishes that I was going to make. He liked my selection of recipes and was pleased that I was going to follow through with my bug lunch. After the lunch he didn’t really keep answer my e-mails. I believe he got a new phone number and I e-mailed him a couple of times without any responses until March 1st.

I e-mailed him back but I wasn’t able to get a response from him. Therefore, he wasn’t able to review my essays but he did hear about the insect event in detail and helped us plan out the recipes.