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Don't bug out, but crickets are on the menu

ASU nutrition students came up with cricket-centric menu for capstone project.
Public is welcome at ASU Kitchen Cafe.
April 6, 2016

ASU cafe to serve dishes featuring the insect, which is a good source of protein, environmentally friendly — and quite tasty


It's what you might hear when you offer an insect entree, but it's also what will be on the menu April 12 at the ASU Kitchen Cafe on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Customers on that day won’t be eating plates of whole crickets. Instead, they’ll have a choice if they want a powder containing the remnants of the insect sprinkled on their meal — or not.

“They’ll be ground up so it doesn’t look like you’re eating them … but it’s still a cricket,” said Heidi Lynch with a laugh.

Lynch is a registered dietitian who teaches Management of Food Service Systems (NTR 445), a lab for students in the School of Nutrition and Health PromotionThe School of Nutrition and Health Promotion is part of the College of Health Solutions. who are majoring in either dietetics or food service management. For their capstone project, students were assigned to groups of four and came up with their own theme and recipes for their production day next week, when their menu would be on offer for a day.

“This is not a culinary class or school, and while students will be preparing food, I’ll also be looking at how they manage each other, production schedules, food safety, purchase orders and menus,” Lynch said. “They’ll be putting what they’ve learned all semester long into practice.”

The groups have prepared menus that promote healthy eating, focusing specifically on antioxidants, diabetes, digestion, heart and energy.

One team — Anna Gianpetro, Rachel Pfeifer, Melissa Galloway and Jared Blake — prepared a menu that promoted brain concentration. They came up with a clever low-calorie, high-protein menu of a Neuro-Nut Burger, Perceptive Pesto Penne, Mind-Muffin and Focusing Fruit Salad.

But how did Gianpetro come of with the idea of adding cricket powder to the first two menu items?

Students work in the ASU Nutrition Kitchen.

ASU nutrition/dietetics students Jared Blake and Anna Gianpetro (also pictured in the top photo) go over ingredients for a low-sodium, diabetic-friendly Tuscan vegetable soup at the ASU Kitchen Cafe on April 5. Their team’s menu April 12 will feature antioxidant-rich foods for concentration, with the option of adding powdered cricket protein. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“I had been listening to a Gastropod episode called Night of the Living Radishes where they describe eating grasshoppers in Mexico,” said Gianpetro, a 36-year-old dietetics and nutrition senior in the College of Health Solutions. “After their experience, they liked the flavor enough to incorporate cricket flour into recipes and spoke about the sustainability of the product. I’m a firm believer in sourcing low-impact, responsibly raised and slaughtered protein, and that’s where crickets fit the bill.”

Crickets also fit the bill nutritionally speaking. They are considered a sustainable and environmentally sound protein, loaded with potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin B and brain-building omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Beyond all the nutritional and health benefits of crickets, it’s also a good idea to give natural protein such as beef a break, said Pfiefer, a 28-year-old dietetics and nutrition senior who will graduate in December.

“Eating a lot of beef can develop and bring up a lot of bacteria in your body,” Pfiefer said. “That could translate into inflammation, and eating less is healthier for you.”

The problem, of course, is that many Westerners consider eating insects disgusting. But according to Gianpetro, it’s as tasty as the dickens.

“It’s got a salty-nutty taste, and the flavor is quite savory,” Gianpetro said. “It doesn’t work with everything, but it should be considered a spice or seasoning.”

Students work in the ASU Nutrition Kitchen.

ASU nutrition/dietetics students Rachel Pfeifer and Jared Blake peel onions at the ASU Kitchen Cafe on April 5. NTR 445: Management of Food Service Systems is a lab for students in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion who are majoring in either dietetics or food service management, and the goals are learning to manage production schedules, food safety, purchase orders and menus.

Gianpetro hopes cricket protein powder will catch on with foodies in the States. It has has been used in such items as protein bars, milkshakes and brownie mix.

But even she readily admits she can only stomach the critters if they’re dead and have gone through the milling process.

“They’re cute, but I don’t like the idea of them jumping around my legs,” Gianpetro said, laughing.

If you go

What: “Foods for Concentration” special menu featuring two items with optional cricket powder at the ASU Kitchen Cafe, which is open to the public.

When: 11:40 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Tuesday, April 12.

Where: ASU Kitchen Cafe, on the ground floor of the Health South Building, 500 N. 3rd St. on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Cost: Two menu items will have the cricket option: Neuro-Nut Burgers (walnuts, oats, lettuce, tomato, avocado, whole-wheat bun) are $4 each, and Perceptive Pesto Penne (whole-wheat penne, pesto, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella) is $6. Other menu items range from $1 to $3.50.

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Should health-care systems be national?

April 6, 2016

Health experts from the U.S. and Europe explore the idea of coverage that is both effective and feasible in a Zócalo Public Square event

Having medical coverage for all Americans is a noble cause and in recent years has been touted as a national priority.

But getting buy-in from the public and politicians is a challenge when there are still so many unknowns: how to share the costs, what kinds of coverage should be offered, and should oversight be federal, state, non-profit or private sector?

Two health-care experts explored the topic Wednesday night at a Zócalo Public SquareZócalo Public Square, an affiliate of Arizona State University, is a not-for-profit ideas exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. event in Phoenix moderated by Arizona State University President Michael Crow.  

“The health-care system that we have evolved into has been an evolutionary rational response to the incentives we’ve put in place,” said Dr. Denis A. Cortese, emeritus president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, and Foundation Professor and director of the Healthcare Delivery and Policy ProgramThe program is part of the College of Health Solutions. at ASU.

“But we’ve ignored the fact that we should be paying attention to the way care is provided and outcomes over time. Redesigning the delivery system today is something that we are probably way behind in dealing with, and the problem is urgent.”

Cortese was joined by fellow panelist Sir Malcolm Grant, the founding chairman of National Health System England (NHS), which provides health care for approximately 60 million and employs close to 5 million people.

A Zocalo Public Square audience sits under a large gazebo at Desert Botanical Garden.

About 100 people gather at the Desert Botanical Garden for the Zócalo Public Square conversation April 6 in Phoenix. Top photo: (From left) ASU President Michael Crow moderates the conversation between Sir Malcolm Grant, the founding chairman of National Health System England, and ASU’s Denis A. Cortese. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The pair spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 100 people at Desert Botanical Garden about America’s health-care system, the challenges it faces in the 21st century, and whether we should consider another model or partnering with other countries to create an international system.

“One of the things I like about Zócalo is that they are unafraid about taking on the biggest issues, the big topics and the really complicated things that other people run away from,” Crow said. “Both of these gentleman have been thinking about the issues that seem to get lost in the political rhetoric, in the day-to-day economic discussions that are going on today.

Crow added that of the 30 or so leading economies in the world, the United States spends more per capita on health by a factor of two than any other country and has a net health outcome in the bottom five.

“We have lower levels of life span and more problematic health outcomes,” Crow said. “Many countries are spending less than half of what we are and getting equal or greater outcomes than we are.”

Grant said Britain’s nationalized system was started in 1948 by the Labor Party, who believed the best way to provide security for their entire population was a system paid for through taxation and payroll deduction. He said that although it did and still does have the best of intentions and has had fairly good health outcomes, that system is no longer working.

“It’s a model that’s totally taxable but really creaking under the pressure of what we can afford to provide,” Grant said. “We are a single payer that provides for hospitals directed by the government. But it’s a fragmented system that’s not very coherent … we’re entering a stage of hysteria, and we know we’ve got to make a change.”

The hysteria was felt on Tuesday when the NHS suffered its third junior doctor’s strike of the year — doctors with 10 years or less of service — disrupting operations, treatment and service to thousands of patients. On April 26-27, junior doctors plan to strike again, refusing to staff their departments as well as emergency surgery and intensive care.

Three men discuss universal health care on a stage.

Malcolm Grant (center) shares about the negative realities of Britain’s nationalized health system with (left) ASU President Michael Crow and Denis A. Cortese.

Cortese said before anything drastic like that happens on our side of the pond, he thinks the States should consider adopting a government-sponsored insurance program like that in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, which offers insurance to all but is administered through private insurance companies.

“You hear about fraud in Medicare all the time, but when’s the last time you heard about any fraud in private insurance?” Cortese said. “They’re efficient, they’ll weed out the fraud and waste and can still make money.”

Cortese said he’s not talking about socializing health-care delivery but about a carefully crafted five-point system that includes national coverage to everyone, has the option for a higher level of care, is market-based and offers means-tested support from the government.

Many already contend that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 mandates that all Americans possess health insurance and requires private insurance companies to offer certain kinds of coverage, Cortese said. But the act has failed in many regards, chiefly in insuring all Americans.

“Even if the Affordable Care Act works perfectly by 2025, we’ll still have 31 million people uninsured,” Cortese said. “Our federal government should have a national strategy and make a commitment to getting everybody insured.”

But there’s good news. Although the current system is broken, says Cortese, it can be fixed.

“We already have a system in place that like in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program,” Cortese said. “It’s a very efficient system and is run well. It’s a great model.

“The problem is our leaders do not understand the difference between governance and managing. Governing means oversight, making sure goals and expectations are met and holding people accountable. We can get this done, so let’s do it.”

Reporter , ASU News