Graphic Novel Aims To Make Insect Cuisine Mainstream | WABE 90.1 FM

Graphic Novel Aims To Make Insect Cuisine Mainstream

Apr 4, 2017

Cooking and eating insects is nothing new, but it’s an idea that makes the Western palate squeamish.

No matter how you approach the concept — environmental impact, deforestation, soil acidification, food insecurity, malnutrition, even over-nutrition — the case for adding insects to our diet is strong.

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Yet outdated stereotypes and even cultural whitewashing continue to color entomophagy, or the consumption of insects, as taboo. Now, a scientist and an artist are teaming up to address those taboos and change minds.

The basic ingredients for waxworm tacos, from the kitchen of Chelsea Thomas
Credit Chelsea Thomas

Chelsea Thomas is the head of the Amphibian Conservation Program at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where she grows feeder invertebrates (a.k.a. bugs) for the frogs in her care. At home, she has been farming her own bugs and learning how to cook them for her family, friends and even local livestock. In an interview for "City Lights," Chelsea encouraged others to cook and eat insects too, saying "there’s 2,000 new flavors for us to play with, textures for us to play with in cooking, and we’re always looking for some new ingredient."

Comic artist, illustrator and fellow insect cuisine enthusiast Blue Delliquanti has been consulting with Chelsea Thomas on an upcoming graphic novel for young adults. "Meal" is about cooking bugs, eating bugs and "love in the time of grasshopper tacos."

Blue said that graphic novels are the perfect medium for tackling taboos:

"I found that comics is a really accessible medium for making subjects that people might find kind of bizarre or esoteric accessible and easy to understand."

"Meal" is set to be published by Iron Circus Comics in 2018, but you can get a sneak peek at panel samples in the slideshow above.