EATING BUGS FOR A GOOD CAUSE
AT LA’S FIRST POP-UP ‘PESTAURANT’
For anyone who considers themselves a foodie, what is going “too far” when it comes to eating? I think for most people, it would be eating bugs. No one likes them and most people who run away if they were given a plate of bugs. But at a recent pop-up ‘Pestaurant’ in Santa Monica, folks lined up to eat free beetles and crickets.
The brainchild of pest control company Western Exterminator, who partnered with Santa Monica eatery Mondo Taco, the creepy-crawly menu, which featured Thai Main Mealworm Salad; Jamaican Me Hoppy with jerk seasoned grasshoppers with pineapple salsa; Deep South BBQ Beetle Tacos; Rice Cricket Treats; and chocolate covered bugs, donated $1 for every insect consumed to the Westside Food Bank of Santa Monica. The goal was to donate $3,000 to the food bank. In addition to assorted BBQ and salt/vinegar treats, there was also a cricket-eating competition.
Western Exterminator, celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, aimed to some that while insects can be a destructive nuisance, others can offer an environmentally low-impact, sustainable, and nutritious protein alternative, which should obviously be a big hit for the eco-minded.
“While we offer tacos with a variety of international influences, this was also a way to acknowledge our roots,” Sam Spector, Managing Director of Mondo Taco, explained to Thillist. “By that I mean chapulines, or grasshoppers, are a very traditional ingredient in Mexico, so we saw this as an opportunity to shine a light on an underutilized food source and boost awareness and acceptance of the deliciousness of insects. Given that insects are recognized as a culinary delicacy in that country, it’s natural that Angelenos would potentially be very receptive to the idea.”
As consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of their food supply, insects offer an unconventional but intriguing option that has already been embraced by approximately one-third of the world’s population. Western Exterminator’s goal is to generate general mindfulness arounds insects—both as pests and as a food source.
While some folks looked on in horror, others munched and some just wanted to try something new. Either way a good time was had and money was raised and donated for a very worthwhile cause. And I found out that eating bugs isn’t my limit so who knows what will be next?
Photography By: Mark Duttweiler
Story by Jose Martinez