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Presenter: Every resort town in the US has a candy store, but one store in Pismo Beach, California, goes beyond the usual taffy and caramel apples. If Hotlix has its way, Americans will be snacking on everything from caterpillars and cockroaches to mealworm-covered apples.
Larry Peterman is a candyman on a mission. For more than a decade he’s been promoting a valuable food source that most Americans find revolting. In a land of plenty, people resist. Larry knows why. From an early age, parents teach children to avoid insects.
Larry Peterman: In our culture, from the time that we’re really small, we’re taught to avoid insects. They might bite you like a mosquito, or just swat them.
This has got a good cricket in it!
Presenter: But kids aren’t the only ones munching on bugs. Around the world, more than 1,400 insect species show up on menus. Insect eating, or entomophagy, is part of healthy diets in Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America. This trend is anything but new. Archaeologists have found evidence of it dating to the earliest humans.
Advocates of insect-eating like to note that it’s environmentally sound. Producing a pound of caterpillar takes a tenth of the resources needed to produce a pound of beef. And insects brim with vitamins and minerals. But despite all the benefits, most Americans can’t stomach bugs.
Waiter: Welcome, welcome, welcome! Have a seat!
Presenter: Unlike Larry Peterman, who celebrates them at his dinner parties. The evening begins with Larry’s version of the classic shrimp cocktail.
Larry Peterman: We’ve just finished preparing a cricket cocktail. It’s a lot like a shrimp cocktail, only instead of shrimp we use crickets.
OK, folks, here’s the first course! Now, enjoy!
While you’re enjoying this, I’m going down and I’ll get your next course.
Presenter: The main course is a stir-fry, with a special garnish.
Larry Peterman: Here we go! Dinner is served!
Dinner guests: Get ready … OK … uno, dos … three … go!
Presenter: Several courses later, Larry presents his pièce de résistance.
Larry Peterman: OK! Here it is, folks! What you’ve been waiting for!
Dinner guest: Oh no!
Larry Peterman: Now, don’t let anybody dive in until everyone’s been served, please!
We call it a Pismo Surfer. What it is is a banana with whipped cream, and a really good cockroach on it. You don’t have to eat the wings, you don’t have to eat the head, unless you want to.
Dinner guest: Do you know where this cockroach has been?
Dinner guest: How does it taste?
Larry Peterman: We can do another one next week if you like!
Presenter: Larry predicts he’ll eventually win people over.
Larry Peterman: As we become more and more insect food-oriented, our tastes are going to change, and so I see a niche for somebody that does gourmet insects. Could have some snob appeal, like people taste flies and, ‘Mmm, this is good. Hey, this bug is good!’
© National Geographic
Worksheets and downloads
What do you think about eating insects? Would you be brave enough to go to one of Larry's dinner parties?