ReelBob: 2016 Heartland Film Festival: ‘Bugs on the Menu’

By Bob Bloom

“Bugs on the Menu” is an appetizing documentary that looks at the growing movement to use insects as a sustainable food source — a viable means of being environmentally responsible and helping feed a growing global population.

The proponents of this effort say that it can save land and water resources, as it takes much less of both in such endeavors as cricket farming, for example.

The movie features interviews with entrepreneurs, scientists, chefs and people already in the fledging industry who praise the benefits of eating insects — all kinds, including beetles, spiders, ants, locusts, grasshoppers, termites and even cockroaches.

They say studies have shown that insects are, as one person put it, “a whole undiscovered food group.”

Crickets, according to studies, have more vitamin B12, iron and calcium than beef and milk.

Plus, insects also have very high levels of protein. In other words, according to the people involved in the industry, insects are healthy dietary alternatives.

“Bugs on the Menu” also points out how the consumption of insects can help avert a food crisis that many environmentalists see coming within the next 30 to 40 years.

They note that 10 pounds of grain equals one pound of beef, so, by cultivating a climate for insect nutrition, much of that grain can be used to feed people instead of cattle.

Plus, they point out that early humans did eat insects, because the human body has an enzyme to digest insects.

The biggest hurdle, as one proponent says, is overcoming the cultural “yuk factor” that eating insects is disgusting or a practice of people in poor Third World nations.

The movie takes viewers on journeys to South Africa, Mexico, Cambodia, New Orleans, Seattle, Montana and rural Louisiana, where we meet people who make their living raising, capturing or cultivating insects for sustenance or retail purposes.

The men and women spearheading this movement admit that, while headway has been made and the consumption of various insect products is increasing — especially among young people — many regulatory, economic and cultural hurdles must still be overcome.

They are confident, however, that the acceptance of insects as a viable food source will quickly be upon us — pointing out the rise of many restaurants in the United States and other countries that now have crickets, grasshoppers and other such critters on their menus.

If “Bugs on the Menu” has one flaw, it’s the lack of an opposition voice, decrying or warning of potential drawbacks of eating insects.

Yes, watching someone devour a cooked spider may make you a little queasy now, but you may want to get used to the sight because it is a menu choice that, in a few years, may become a common occurrence.

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

3 1/2 stars out of 4
Not rated

“Bugs on the Menu” will be shown at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Castleton Square; at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at Castleton Square; at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 at Traders Pointe; and at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 at Castleton Square.

  • ReelBob

    Would you dine on an insect, devour crickets for a meal? You might, after checking out this documentary. Let’s talk about it at ReelBob.