In an annual tradition, the Compost Team prepares an insect-based treat for their meetings at the Alumni House, aligned with their mission of "feeding the food web."
They begin by making a big batch of chocolate pudding, consisting of gelatin, heavy cream, butter, locally pastured eggs, and cocoa powder. Once tempered and cooled, it's sweetened with raw local honey to preserve the beneficial enzymes that come packaged with the sweet stuff. Through the Food Initiative, students learn how to transform simple ingredients into delicious and nourishing fare, gaining culinary skills and a deeper understanding of nutrition.
With the pudding complete, the star ingredient hops onto stage. Students use sustainably farm-raised and roasted crickets that are ground into a powder. The crickets provide a spectrum of minerals including calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron. They also have B vitamins, protein, and a good amount of omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA).
The crickets follow a basic fat bomb recipe with almost equal parts virgin cold pressed coconut oil and cricket powder. The saturated fat and the protein from the primary ingredients promotes satiety. The ingredients are blended in a food processor with hemp seeds, which have a great omega 3-to-6 fatty acid ratio, chopped dates that bring sweetness, texture, and trace minerals. At this point, cocoa powder can be added for chocolate lovers, or carob powder for a rich flavor combination without caffeine or phytates. A hint of raw honey and a dash of sea salt makes it into the mixture, which is cooled in a refrigerator.
Once the fat has hardened slightly, the mixture can be rolled into snack-sized orbs and dusted with coconut flakes, or chiseled into dirt-like clods to top the pudding. The students opt for the dirt look.
Insects have sustained humans since our earliest ancestors walked the earth, and are still enjoyed around the world today. Many people who are squeamish about the idea of eating bugs will be surprised to learn that shrimp and lobsters are underwater cousins.
Apart from tasting great, the cricket crumble snack represents the kind of ingredients that might factor into foodways for a resilient human culture. As Washington College students work to rebuild the soil food web by reducing food waste, they take on a deeper relationship with detritivores, like the humble cricket, as they join forces to recycle organics into food that can help to optimize the health of people and the planet.