Graduation Year

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Faculty Mentor

Eva Rocke

Faculty Mentor Department

Global Leadership Initiative

Abstract

Entomophagy is the human use of insects as food. This practice is exhibited around the world by a variety of cultures with densities highest in the continents of Africa, Australia, and South America. However, entomophagy is not commonly practiced in the United States and as a result many Americans lack the knowledge necessary for understanding, appreciating, and using this practice. As the value of finite natural resources and impacts of food production are recognized by Americans, entomophagy has become a more socially-viable alternative food source because its environmental benefits allow consumers to justify their interest and adoption of the practice. As acceptance of entomophagy improve, so do the opportunities and means to practice entomophagy in the US, but they are still limited. Despite improved access to insect - based products, development of consumer markets for insects in the US has been slow. One reason for this is a lack of usable and accessible information about the benefits and means of adopting entomophagy. Our aim is to improve access to information about entomophagy by designing youth-specific curriculum which can be used in classrooms and science centers to introduce children to the practice of entomophagy and facilitate normalization of this practice.

The process of harvesting, producing, and eating insects provides insight into various cultural experiences and traditions around the world. As entomophagy has increased in popularity in recent decades, more attention has been given to the distribution of its adoption and what drives individuals to consume insects. There are marked differences use of insects as a food source in western cultures compared to cultures which traditionally consumed insects. Achieving sustainable use of insects as a food source will differ depending on the regulatory framework present in each country and the method of collection and production used.

Despite logistical challenges global insect production industry has reached an all-time high. Efficient methods of farming insects have been developed and a variety of insect-based food products are available to consumers, yet entomophagy still struggles to compete with the trade of traditional protein sources such as chicken, beef, and pork. This is in part due to consumer rejection of insects as a food source. A problem stemming from cultural norms which recognize insects as pests rather than food and associate insects with strong emotions such as fear and disgust. Commonly known as the “yuck-factor”, this cultural barrier must be broken down if entomophagy is to become more widely accepted in western countries. By engaging children and exposing them to the concept of entomophagy early in their lives, we can make aware of entomophagy at an early age, helping to normalize this practice and improve common perceptions of entomophagy. T we will create a set of comprehensive curricula centered around the education of youth specifically with the goal of exposing youth in Montana to the concept of entomophagy. By focusing our curriculum on experiential learning opportunities which actively engage students and allow them to explore entomophagy independently, we hope to improve their knowledge and awareness of entomophagy as an alternative protein source, and as a means to mitigate issues of environmental quality and food security, while allowing them to decide whether or not entomophagy is viable in their own lives. To understand the impact of our curriculum on student perceptions of entomophagy we will ask 1) how does student knowledge of entomophagy improve after exposure to entomophagy focused curriculum? 2) Do student attitudes towards entomophagy change after exposure to entomophagy focused curriculum?

Honors College Research Project

No

GLI Capstone Project

yes

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© Copyright 2019 Dakota Vaccaro, Kaitlyn Anderson, Lauren Clark, Ellie Gluhosky, Sarah Lutch, and Spencer Lachman