Crickets: That's what's for dinner

Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 6:47 p.m. CDT; updated 10:05 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 26, 2008

On The Farm

 What:   South Farm Showcase

When:  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: MU South Farm is located on New Haven Road, one-quarter mile east of the AC/Grindstone exit off Highway 63 in southeast Columbia.

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COLUMBIA - If you eat your crickets without wings, you're in luck.  

"I get young crickets, before they grow their wings," said Richard Houseman, MU associate professor of urban entomology.

Houseman will be cooking up batches of crickets and mealworms on Saturday and serving them to anyone who dares at the South Farm Showcase. The event is free and features a range of science oriented activities, food, music, and vendors.

The 1,000 crickets and 3,000 mealworms were purchased from Columbia Pet Center and were ordered a week in advance.

"They will be prepared very basic," Houseman said. "They will be roasted or fried in some butter."

The crickets, which are roasted, have a somewhat nutty taste, while the fried mealworms look and taste almost like a bacon bit, Houseman said.  

The preparation process starts by keeping the insects in corn meal for at least 24 hours to help ensure the contents of their digestive tracts are edible. After being boiled to remove any bacteria, the grasshoppers' legs are removed and the body is baked, and the mealworms are fried in butter.

"Once they come out I'll leave some plain and others will go into a chili powder or cinnamon sugar coating, kind of like popcorn," Houseman said.

Houseman said he looks forward to people's reactions.  He believes children will be a little more adventurous while adults might remain hesitant.  

"While we may think it is a bizarre food, it is not bizarre to the rest of the world," said Kristen Smarr, director of external relations for the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.  

"We've never done it before," Houseman said. "If there is a favorable response maybe we could do it every year and make it a tradition."

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Katy Steinmetz September 26, 2008 | 10:54 a.m.

Mmmmmm, sounds delicious. That should be one heck of a gul-durn event (good Lo' willin' the creek don't rise).

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