Entomophagy on Film at UCLA

It’s been a busy summer here at Coalo Valley Farms. We have so much news to share with you over the coming weeks and months. First, we want to tell you about an exciting project that we recently participated in at UCLA.

Dr. Andy Rice Teaches Entomophagy with Metta World Peace

Teaching Entomophagy

Teaching Entomophagy

It all started with a call from Dr. Andy Rice, ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media at UCLA. Dr. Rice was teaching a class called “Food: A Lens on Environment and Sustainability,” and wanted to incorporate his interest in entomophagy into the course. He ultimately created a short documentary film called “Teaching Entomophagy.”

As part of the documentary, students were filmed eating crickets, many of them for the first time. Some of the 150 freshmen in Dr. Rice’s class were apprehensive, but most ended up trying the Coalo Crickets. Many were surprised to find that they actually enjoyed them. Their reactions were authentic and at some times comical, but all of the students were introduced to a new way of thinking about food.

In addition to Dr. Rice’s students, another important guest made an appearance in “Teaching Entomophagy.” Metta World Peace, the NBA player and activist, happened to be visiting UCLA that same afternoon. Metta tried a cricket, and approved of the taste—he even brought some home to share with his kids! This made headlines when the film appeared online in July, directing some welcome attention to the edible insects movement. By showcasing an influential athlete eating insects, Dr. Rice showed the world that entomophagy is moving closer toward widespread acceptance in the US.

Coalo-fornia Dreamin'

Our Favorite UCLA Students!

Our Favorite UCLA Students!

Later in the semester, Dr. Rice’s students were tasked with creating a film project about how food affects our bodies, the environment and social justice. After learning about edible insects in class, one group of students was especially intrigued. They approached us and asked if they could create their short documentary about entomophagy, with a focus on Coalo Valley Farms. We enthusiastically agreed, and after a semester of hard work, “Coalo-fornia Dreamin’” was born.

Audrey, Jeremy, Madison, and Melina were passionate and dedicated. They not only came to the farm multiple times over the course of the semester, but also visited us at the LA Bug Fair and got students across the UCLA campus to try crickets for the first time. We were super impressed with the end result.

A poster used in "Coalo-fornia Dreamin'," now proudly on display here at Coalo

A poster used in "Coalo-fornia Dreamin'," now proudly on display here at Coalo

At the end of the semester we attended the screening of the 5F Project, which showcased “Five Fabulous Films Figuring out Food.” We saw a series of short documentaries examining the impact of food, all created by students in Dr. Rice’s class.  Alongside “Coalo-fornia Dreamin’” were films about body image, care farming, cardiovascular health, and the dangers of Big Soda. At the event, cricket cookies were served and a Virtual Reality Cricket Station showed footage from the farm.

It was inspiring to witness firsthand how film empowers young people to showcase important issues. In the coming years, we will rely on today’s youth to reverse the environmental and social problems their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have caused. If our future rests on the shoulders of students like these, we feel optimistic that society can change its relationship with food for the better.

Where to Watch the Films

Dr. Rice’s film came out this summer and was featured in the Huffington Post. It’s an excellent overview of entomophagy and captures some genuine first reactions to eating insects. You can watch it here.

And this is where you can see “Coalofornia Dreaming,” by Melina Aguilar, Madison Feldman, Jeremy Figueroa, and Audrey Hall. And yes, they sang the original soundtrack themselves!