New on the menu: Fresh grasshoppers from Baker County
Rhode Island man wants to turn the county’s infestation into a gourmet feast
Baker County’s worst grasshopper infestation in 22 years is drawing national attention, including a request from the owner of a Rhode Island purveyor of edible insects who was featured in Discovery magazine and an upcoming television show as “The Bug Eating Man.”
“I heard about your situation out there through a piece on public broadcasting. I do run an edible insect business, and I have an interest in purchasing some grasshoppers,” said Dave Glacer, in a letter to the city of Haines seeking contacts for buying grasshoppers.
“I also read about plans for funding a large-scale response with insecticides. Although that’s the usual response to this kind of situation, there is a better method out there: harvesting,” Glacer said.
“I operate the only edible insect company in the U.S. and I’m interested in your bugs, so long as they’re not bathed in poison,” Glacer wrote in his letter to Haines. “There are markets for this kind of food, and I have consumers waiting for them.”
On his Web site, Sunrise Land Shrimp, Glacer touts grasshoppers as the world’s most commonly consumed insect, high in protein and other nutrients.
One of the reasons he wrote to the Haines City Council was in response to news reports and the PBS feature reporting on efforts to secure state funding for pesticide applications by Jan Kerns, a Baker County farmer and member of the Oregon Board of Agriculture.
Kerns said the grasshopper infestation that spread to 733,000 in Baker County during the summer is a serious problem due to the damage grasshoppers do to high-value crops and rangeland.
In recognition of the widespread damage posed by the grasshopper infestation, Oregon’s Legislative Emergency Board approved $119,000 last week, which includes $50,000 for a cost-share grasshopper spraying program to be implemented next summer, with the balance of the funds supporting an entomologist position for Northeastern Oregon with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Contrary to an earlier report from Legislative staff on the grasshopper cost-share funding, Kerns said the funds will not be used to compensate growers in the Haines area who paid for aerial pesticide applications this past summer.
An informational meeting on the grasshopper infestation and planning efforts to deal with it next season is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Baker County Extension office in Baker City.
In the meantime, Glacer said he is hoping to purchase grasshoppers that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.
“Maybe it’s too late to organize a grasshopper roundup this year, especially if most farmers have already been dousing their land with toxic substances,” Glacer said. “I’m writing to you on the off chance that you might know of someone who would be interested in capturing, freezing and shipping me a few pounds of their excess destructive insects, thereby making money from the local pests,” Glacer said in his letter to Haines.
He’d like to start out with a 10-pound batch of Baker county grasshoppers for research to compare their taste and other edible qualities to other species of grasshoppers.
“They’d have to be shipped dead, so they’d have to be boiled and frozen to kill the germs in their gut,” Glacer said.
“I’d pay $7 a pound, plus shipping expenses.”