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UBJ: Creature Cuisine Bugs Parents

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Summer enrichment programs generally are designed to provide a safe haven for youths while offering them new experiences not available during the regular school year.

But when a Wyoming youth program recently offered to teach 3rd- through 6th-grade students the novel art of baking bugs, horrified parents boycotted and effectively canceled the course.

"Incredible Edibles," a course examining the development of insects and their uses in the cuisines of other cultures, was scheduled to be offered this summer as part of a program at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.

"We thought the kids would be intrigued by it," says Wendy Patrick, the program's coordinator. "But the parents aren't--especially the mothers."

Penny Mentock-Barkan, who has presented the class to her own students at a high school in Big Horn, Wyo., sees the parents' aversion as a ''cultural reaction," since North Americans, unlike people of some other cultures, don't usually include insects in their diet.

She describes some of the exotic recipes she had planned for the entomological-gastronomical class.

"We could have made baked grasshopper with a choice of chocolate, honey, or cinnamon sauces," she enthuses. Her unique recipe for mealworm quiche calls for baking the larvae "right before they pupate."

She stresses, however, that taste-testing the insect delicacies only takes place during one class and is completely voluntary.

Ms. Patrick suggests that the program's teachers may still order the bugs and bake them for an "end of summer" school feast for students from all the classes. Parents' attendance is optional.--skg

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