Bugs doc asks if eating insects can save the planet

BUGS (Andreas Johnsen). 73 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 13). See listing. Rating: NNNN

Sounds like a good idea: convince the planet’s ever-expanding population that insects are a sustainable food source, figure out ways to make them tasty and then change the world.

That’s what this doc’s engaging subjects, Josh Evans, Ben Reade and Roberto Flore, set out to do. They’re members of the Nordic Food Lab, researchers and chefs whose mandate is to promote food diversity.

Andreas Johnson follows them from Australia to Kenya, the Netherlands, Japan and beyond as they investigate where to find the insects, how they’re harvested and, most intriguingly, how to cook them so that they’re appealing.

This pic is not a gross-out. In fact, you’d be surprised at how gorgeous these creepy crawlies look in their natural habitats. And getting them out of their habitats to the kitchen involves a fascinating, complex process.

But what makes this film work – and it’s the key to all great documentaries – is that something essential happens. In this case, the super-confident team loses its swagger. As the team’s guides forage for bugs, the researchers see the importance of local sourcing and the problems with exporting. They do devise inventive recipes, but watching the bugs wriggle in the fry pan reminds them that these are creatures being cooked alive.

And once they head to a conference on insects as human fuel, they worry that the vast majority of business interests there want to make money – not change.

Leaving them – and us – wanting to know: now what?  

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