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Going green
July 15, 2013 4:58 PM   Subscribe

If anything can turn Westerners on to entomophagy for sustainable protein (or just the perfect beer snack), surely it's an attractive, well-designed kitchen appliance. Introducing LEPSIS, a modular terrarium for growing grasshoppers as a food source in an urban home. Nominated for the 2013 INDEX: Award.
posted by naju (76 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Let me be the first to say that I would totally eat these guys.

But wouldn't they be fucking loud and annoying in your apartment?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:01 PM on July 15, 2013


If you grow them in this terrarium, do they avoid contracting the nematodes that are carried by grasshoppers in the wild? I've have chapulines before and liked them ok, but the risk of horrible parasite aspect of it is what creeps me out.
posted by invitapriore at 5:07 PM on July 15, 2013


Lepsis? What a horrible name. The design looks interesting, but the name sounds like a disease you get from eating grasshoppers.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [22 favorites]


I have heard the risk of grasshopper or cricket parasites compared to the risk with pork - with enough heat and time it is supposedly safe to eat. With the small size grasshoppers cook through faster though.
posted by idiopath at 5:12 PM on July 15, 2013


grasshopper recipes
posted by idiopath at 5:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that the parasite that drives them to water and then crawls out? Or am I thinking of something else?
posted by curious nu at 5:17 PM on July 15, 2013


Yes, the only thing keeping me from going bug-itarian was the lack of a late-50's-style appliance to grow them in.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [24 favorites]


I've had, and really enjoyed, crickets. Like roasted peanuts! I'd be happy to eat more on the regular. But what do grasshoppers taste like? They seem like they'd be meatier somehow? Bugs like this are no grosser than shrimp or lobster.

This object is beautiful, but entirely too big. I don't have the kitchen counter real estate or cabinet space for the whole shebang, and laugh at the thought that I'd have enough room in my fridge to fit the harvester in. If the idea is to help change our perceptions about food, then I'd want it to also help us change our ideas about what we need to have in the kitchen - and what a kitchen is. I could see keeping something like this next to, or combined with, an herb garden... if I had room for either.
posted by Mizu at 5:19 PM on July 15, 2013


After the Apocalypse, all that will survive is cockroaches.

And the people who eat them.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:22 PM on July 15, 2013


I don't know...I think better packaging of grasshopper dishes would work better than growing grasshoppers in an attractive terrarium. I'd probably get attached to the little guys.
posted by xingcat at 5:22 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


The tastiest meat is in the legs. Use your grasshopper cracker to get the juiciest meat.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


oceanjesse: "Let me be the first to say that I would totally eat these guys. "

Let me be the first to say that I would have to be in an advanced stage of starvation before I would eat these guys.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Speaking as someone who raised and ate crickets (something of a hobby as a teen, I was homeschooled, you know how that goes)...

How do you dispose of the waste? Crickets poop a lot, and I imagine grasshoppers do as well.

Why grasshoppers? Crickets and mealworms are easier to obtain.

Why kill them in the fridge? Freezer would be faster. Plus you wouldn't have to stare at sad dying bugs every time you opened the fridge to make yourself a sandwich.
posted by Wavelet at 5:27 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plus you wouldn't have to stare at sad dying bugs every time you opened the fridge to make yourself a sandwich.

As pluses go, that's not much of a plus.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


No thank you I will stick to pizza rolls.
posted by elizardbits at 5:33 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Kinda cool but seems labor intensive for such a small payoff. You would need hundreds of grasshoppers for one meal. Should be a whole ecosystem in there. Lizards to eat the grasshoppers, Honey Badgers to eat the lizards,Golden Eagles to eat the Honey Badgers. Eagles are pretty big, probably get like a week of sammiches out of one of those.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:38 PM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Vegan chicken wings! Oh wait...
posted by oceanjesse at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


entomophagy for sustainable protein

Or, you know, plants.
posted by DU at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


While it's only an aquarium with dirt in it rather than the fancy green hexes of the Lepsis, the terrarium in my kitchen is currently home to two lovely (but apparently invasive) eastern lubber grasshoppers that we found the other day. We were in someone's yard, and saw something huge and black streak by, which was startling enough; then there were all these crispy noises in the grass around us, and we realized we were surrounded by hundreds of these huge, black, yellow-accented grasshoppers. We would've taken home more than two, but even knowing they aren't (very) poisonous, they're very, very scary-looking...and I think they would be more likely to flay my flesh for their own evil feasts, than to serve as a hip alternative protein source.
posted by mittens at 5:41 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


He lost me at "my actions as an American actually contributed to the nutritional challenges of ... a Third World country". The policy decisions of First World nations that allow things like fast food to exist and thrive, and which drive the global capital markets into leveling rain forest to make pasture, are what causes problems for poor people the world over — NOT what you do or do not choose to eat. Collective problems do not have individual solutions. The idea that we can all choose to eat crickets instead of beef is nice, but individual conscience is a very, very poor substitute for political action, and is all too easily confused for such. Your individual consumer choices don't affect the world economy; the policy decisions of North American and European (and, increasingly, Asian) governments do. So this is a cool idea, and maybe grasshoppers are really tasty and it's a good idea for us to find alternate protein sources and all that, but framing this project in environmental and political terms is actually a symptom of one of the largest problems in our world: the confusion of capitalist consumption for political action.
posted by cthuljew at 5:42 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Or, you know, plants.

Yeah, there's about 50 kasplillion different legumes to get through before attractively terrarium'd grasshoppers are on the protein menu.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:42 PM on July 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Hmmm...

As a Peace Corps volunteer many years ago, I would sometimes try eating cooked insects (i.e. cooked termites that you could be at a stand). To me, it tasted like charcoal, but maybe a recipe would spice it up.

However, as a grad student, we kept insects to sustain our population of research frogs, and let me tell you:

"But wouldn't they be fucking loud and annoying in your apartment?" is spot on. Occasionally, one or a few would escape and these hardy little guys would survive for months, chirping, making noise, all the time. Better than that, they would move down the hall and several other labs would hear the chirping and they blamed us.I can see it now .... an apartment complex with a an escaped insect or two and everyone would be "grar grar damn grasshopper eaters" for the next six months.

Oh and the smell,but maybe that is the smell with hundreds vs.just a few insect ...not sure how many are supposed to be grown in this terranium.

But if we are going to import food solutions, may I suggest this? I used to see people sell this on the side of the road in some parts of the world, although I have to admit that I could not bring myself to taste it because it still LOOKED like the animal. BUT we would be working with a natural resource that we have in urban areas, no?
posted by Wolfster at 5:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


the terrarium in my kitchen is currently home to two lovely (but apparently invasive) eastern lubber grasshoppers

Two isn't even a snack is it? May be better off drying them and putting them in a pepper mill or coffee grinder to use as a flavoring.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I had that in my house my cats would never sleep again. Bugs are even more fascinating than birds as far as they are concerned.
posted by jenjenc at 5:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


no no no no no no no no no nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I grew up with roaches, sometimes approaching Joe's Apartment levels. I try to be open minded, but I can't bring myself to eat anything resembling them. (I tried with crickets at one Nuit Blanche - no problem until I saw one sticking out of the leaf and in the dark I thought it was a roach, screamed and threw it several feet away).
posted by jb at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Bugs like this are no grosser than shrimp or lobster.

Many people who enjoy other seafoods have an aversion to shrimp, lobster and crawfish because they resemble bugs.
posted by bukvich at 5:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bugs like this are no grosser than shrimp or lobster.

Agreed 100x!

That's why I don't eat any of them.
posted by DU at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Right. Because most people in the west really are seeking to kill their own food - the only thing that's stopping them is a handy device to keep it in before doing so.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I had to hunt and kill pizza rolls before consuming them I do not think it would be much of a deterrent.
posted by elizardbits at 6:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is a lot easier: Cricket Protein Powder Bars
posted by stbalbach at 6:08 PM on July 15, 2013


I could kill pizza rolls. Unless they had eyes. If they had sad eyes I could never kill them. They would breed and take over my apartment covering my fine microfiber sectional with marinara sauce and melted cheese. They would probably take over my bed too.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I had to hunt and kill pizza rolls

They're really pretty easy to hunt. Look for the telltale tracks of mozzarella, and follow them to the tomato dipping sauce. Coat yourself lightly in olive oil, so they won't smell you coming, and you can kill them all.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:14 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


But wouldn't they be fucking loud and annoying in your apartment?

I would imagine so. I mean, I knew a guy who once dumped a bagful of live crickets through the mail slot in his landlord's front door, and it wasn't because he was trying to re-create some sort of Peaceable Kingdom scenario.
posted by corey flood at 6:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I hope the writers of Portlandia know about this.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I hope the writers of Portlandia know about this.

The mayor declares an Entomophage Celebration Day, but there aren't enough locally sourced insects for the citywide potluck. A scandal erupts when a semi truck disguised as carrying "Biodiesel, Bicycles, and Birds" is uncovered bringing in bugs from Washington State.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


But wouldn't they be fucking loud and annoying in your apartment?
All you have to do to make crickets be completely silent is dump them all in with a pet tarantula. That always shut them right up.

The Audubon Insectarium has various bugs to eat. They aren't bad except afterwards I always feel like there are legs stuck in my throat. Maybe I'm only imagining it...
posted by artychoke at 6:36 PM on July 15, 2013


All you have to do to make crickets be completely silent is dump them all in with a pet tarantula.

Oh, like that's a good idea? Won't matter if the crickets chirp, I'm not residing with a tarantula. I'm very much live and let live for things like rattlesnakes, black widows, and tarantulas in the wild, but not my house thankyouverymuch.

And I don't do bugs. With or without chipotle sauce.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could kill pizza rolls. Unless they had eyes.

Finding an eye inside was why I stopped eating Hot Pockets.
posted by mittens at 6:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I hope you are not a fan of crustaceans then because those fuckers are basically the cooties of the sea.
posted by elizardbits at 6:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn. first I wanted Pizza Rolls, then I wanted Hot Pockets, now I want a Hot Pocket filled with Pizza Rolls.

I have tortillas, I could make a Pizza Roll burrito.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


nope nope nope nope nope

nope

nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope

if anyone needs me I'll be hugging a box of vanilla granola, crooning softly to myself
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kinda cool but seems labor intensive for such a small payoff. You would need hundreds of grasshoppers for one meal.

Only if you Super Size it.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


grasshopper tacos[pdf]
Chapulines
The legendary Oaxacan specialty
of sautéed grasshoppers, shallots,
tequila and guacamole $5.00
posted by ennui.bz at 7:11 PM on July 15, 2013


Ad hominem: "I could kill pizza rolls. Unless they had eyes. If they had sad eyes I could never kill them. They would breed and take over my apartment covering my fine microfiber sectional with marinara sauce and melted cheese. They would probably take over my bed too."

I had an idea once for donut holes that actually realistically screamed and pleaded with you to stop as you ate them, which was amusing enough, but then the real insight was that if anyone you know were to keep buying them past the initial novelty purchase that would be a really good indicator to stay as far away as possible from those people.
posted by invitapriore at 7:15 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stop making me feel bad for donut holes.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


As far as donut holes are concerned you're basically Hannibal Lecter, except I guess you don't psychoanalyze them, or make exquisite dishes out of them skillfully paired with the appropriate wine, or beer aged in cabernet barrels.
posted by invitapriore at 7:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I feel for the lil guys but if they didn't want to be eaten they wouldn't taste so damn good.

Now I'm craving Jamon Iberico with fresh Mozzarella di Buffala drizzled with a nice 25 year Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and sprinkled with with salt obtained through the evaporation of human tears. That's how he served it on the show right? Oh, and donut holes.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


twoleftfeet: "If I had to hunt and kill pizza rolls

They're really pretty easy to hunt. Look for the telltale tracks of mozzarella, and follow them to the tomato dipping sauce. Coat yourself lightly in olive oil, so they won't smell you coming, and you can kill them all.
"

Wait in the marinara like a crocodile, and lunge at them when they take a dip.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:10 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of that 3D printer for bug goo. Where on earth did people get the notion that snazzy futuristic design makes things palatable? Did they hear an urban legend that claimed Epcot Center was made of sugar, or what?
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:13 PM on July 15, 2013


I hope you are not a fan of crustaceans then because those fuckers are basically the cooties of the sea

YES. The shrimp is the cockroach* of the sea. The lobster is the rat of the sea. Well, the lobster is the rat of the sea vis-à-vis the "EEWW," the octopus is the rat of the sea vis-à-vis the "Too cute and smart to eat, keep as pet instead." Perhaps you could also keep the lobster as a pet and walk it on a leash, I don't know.

* of course I would still gladly eat the shrimp before the cockroach if I were starving. Shrimp at least don't taste like salty metal acid, and no one makes you eat a cockroach cocktail at Christmas parties to be polite.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shrimp at least don't taste like salty metal acid

Is there a cockroach eating story here?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


the real insight was that if anyone you know were to keep buying them past the initial novelty purchase that would be a really good indicator to stay as far away as possible from those people.

deaf people though
posted by elizardbits at 8:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


also my real supervillain fantasy cuisine are martinis made from the tears of children
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ideally I will at no point be forced to consume my own nose.
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 PM on July 15, 2013


Ideally I will at no point be forced to consume my own nose.

Unless it were stuffed with mozzarella, fried in batter, and dipped in marinara. Presumably.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you keeping the children hooked up to tear-collecting devices? Or is it, like an import system where you need to ensure the tears possess a unique terroir that can only be attained through foraging?
posted by Mizu at 8:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


elizardbits: "> the real insight was that if anyone you know were to keep buying them past the initial novelty purchase that would be a really good indicator to stay as far away as possible from those people.

deaf people though
"

I figured the marketing campaign would be pretty straightforward about what you could expect from these particular donut holes, but solution: give them four legs so they can straddle your mouth like when you try to put a big dog that doesn't want to go to the vet in the car. But now I am legitimately starting to feel bad for these donut holes.
posted by invitapriore at 8:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there a cockroach eating story here?

yes

moral of the story: don't bite into cockroaches by accident unless you want to spend the rest of the night gag-spitting into the sink as you debride your mouth with half a tube of toothpaste

THE END
posted by nicebookrack at 9:22 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Collective problems do not have individual solutions. The idea that we can all choose to eat crickets instead of beef is nice, but individual conscience is a very, very poor substitute for political action, and is all too easily confused for such.

Well yes.

But in a free market, the problem is a collective one - the collective demand of millions of consumers that have decided that they need X , which creates the demand for X, and so companies form and rise to create a supply that can meet that demand, and to even amplify that they need that demand they engage in branding/advertising tactics, so even more millions of consumers decide that they need X...

And I agree with you that the solution is more often than not a regulatory/political one. But I think it's important to understand that, if we tackle these problems, we are dealing with collective problems arising out of individual problems that we are trying to solve with collective tactics.

There's probably a good tactic at the level of changing individual demand -- branding/advertising tactics that attempt to change individual desires, and thus collective demand for X. Is that not an attempt at change in of itself? Is that not valuable?
posted by suedehead at 9:43 PM on July 15, 2013


I've lived in places that were infested with roaches.

I set down a coffee cup on the counter, picked it up maybe 60 seconds later, and there was a roach in it. Took a sip and it was wiggling in my mouth. Spit it back into the coffee cup and it was still fucking swimming.

My roommate at the time had a huge stack of newspapers, one day I convinced him to throw them out. There were so many roaches in there they just about covered the floor when they scattered. He ran around with a vacuum and vacuumed them up.

I've see some shit, I've seen 6 inch hissing roaches crawl out of a crack in my bedroom wall, but this took the cake. It was like that bug room in Indian Jones.

People wonder how they got bedbugs again in Brooklyn, the whole boro is fucking infested.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen some shit, I've seen 6 inch hissing roaches crawl out of a crack in my bedroom wall

All these moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain
posted by naju at 10:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I believe I may have over shared.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think I mentioned it before, but I had dried grasshoppers in Mexico, With a slice of lime and some salt and beer. Grasshoppers taste pretty good, and are religiously permitted to Jews and Muslims. Other insects are not.
John the Baptist lived on locusts (grasshoppers With an attitude problem who form a mass movement..) and carob, an insipid Middle-Eastern chocolate wanna-be.
That's be like chocolate and chewy shrimp.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


All you have to do to make crickets be completely silent is dump them all in with a pet tarantula. That always shut them right up.

This can only end with an old lady.
posted by Magnakai at 11:39 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Look, there's a reason we don't eat insects, and the reason is that no matter how you cut it, they're fucking rank.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:50 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


He came up with this solution because he didn't want to "disconnect people from the reality of what they’re eating". But if you are trying to convince most people to eat BUGS a little bit of reality disconnection is pretty important. Prawns, for example, are much more edible when they don't have their heads and nasty little legs. Lobsters and crayfish and Moreton bay bugs are just creepy as. Like feasting on the corpses of the alien species we've just defeated. Yup, camouflage that!
posted by Athanassiel at 11:51 PM on July 15, 2013


Like feasting on the corpses of the alien species we've just defeated.

That makes it waaaaay cooler!
posted by Mizu at 11:57 PM on July 15, 2013


I'd eat it, but the terrarium idea is just silly. I don't want to keep bugs for the same reason I don't want to keep chickens or grow wheat: it's an inefficient use of my time and resources, and I would probably suck at it anyway.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:01 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


All this talk of shrimp and lobster... yes, I enjoy both, but not with limbs, heads, carapace etc. intact. The very idea of ingesting those spiny little grasshopper legs will have me clearing my throat for the rest of the day.

Yes, it's an interesting appliance, but I don't think I've had that much free space in my refrigerator or on my counter since I moved into my current house. And the trade off is crunchy crawly things that I have to kill and learn to like to eat? I'd say a nice sprouting jar is a more efficient use of kitchen resources and space, and yields something far more palatable.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:31 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


nooooooooooo


also, I don't eat lobster or shrimp because they are too much like bugs, and I don't eat meat beacuse they are too much like human, and also they is cuteness.

Whenever environmentalists talk about how eating meat is bad for the environment, though, I get worried that they're going to kill all the cows or something. I like the cows.
posted by windykites at 5:35 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just now I felt a carpenter ant under my arm. I'm a fully-grown middle-aged man but I shrieked like a little girl, chucked my laptop aside and levitated out of bed in a blind panic.

I'm not usually afraid of bugs at all, but you people, with your grasshopper munching, scurrying pizza rolls with and/or full of eyeballs and sentient doughnut holes begging for mercy, have officially given me the creeps.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:14 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


please don't eat us!
posted by windykites at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2013


I have had soy marinated pan fried crickets.
They were crunchy and delicious.
Would eat again!
A++
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2013


It's called Inago btw.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:36 AM on July 16, 2013


But in a free market, the problem is a collective one - the collective demand of millions of consumers that have decided that they need X , which creates the demand for X, and so companies form and rise to create a supply that can meet that demand, and to even amplify that they need that demand they engage in branding/advertising tactics, so even more millions of consumers decide that they need X...

See, that's exactly what I mean by "individual solutions". A collective solution isn't just one where a bunch of people happen to make the same choice. It's one where those people come together and actually consciously decide to take certain kinds of actions. The entire idea of The Market is that it lets people coordinate certain kinds of actions through the price mechanism, but some kinds of actions aren't subject to prices, like stopping global warming or food shortages. We need mechanisms, whether social, governmental or [some other thing that lets people get together and make decisions], which allow us to agree on what the world should look like, and enable us to make it look that way. In markets, you get to make choices, but only the choices which are presented to you by whatever private interests have enough power to affect large numbers of people at once. There's no mechanism in the market for creating alternative large-scale choices other than getting big and powerful yourself, and unfortunately there's no profit in helping the poor.
posted by cthuljew at 8:39 PM on July 16, 2013


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