Kaitlin Carter, 21, a senior anthropology student at Wayne State University, has been working alongside assistant professor Julie Lesnik to educate people about entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects. We spoke with Carter about her experiences in the field and working on Eating Insects Detroit, the first international entomophagy conference in the U.S.
What made you decide to go into anthropology?
Anthropology is a field that incorporates many components that I want to study. My main focus is on business and linguistic anthropology. I'm interested in organizational culture and human resources. More specifically, I want to work with companies to make informed, ethical decisions for their internal policies and procedures. I want to help companies curate happy, healthy, cohesive teams that can work to their best ability.
Tell us about your experience working with Julie Lesnik on the entomophagy conference.
It has been absolutely wonderful. Dr. Lesnik is an incredible leader who has provided me with many opportunities to grow my professional skills and contribute to this conference. I've been able to meet new people and have many new experiences.
Have you done any work to inform the community about entomophagy?
In addition to working at the Science After Dark event at the Michigan Science Center, I spoke at Roeper School in Birmingham. They were having a special event for Earth Day with many other speakers discussing different aspects of environmental science throughout the day. I held three sessions, and saw nearly 40 students. My speech was a simplified version of the general intro to entomophagy lecture that Dr. Lesnik gives at a college level. It touched on the history of entomophagy, how it is practiced in other cultures, what led to Western bias, why bug eating isn't native to the western world and how it uses much less resources compared to factory farming. Afterward, the students were able to taste mini cricket powder cupcakes.
Did the students like the cupcakes?
They loved them! The most common response was "It just tastes like a cupcake." They were all very curious to try it, asked many questions, and very few viewed it with the stigma that many adults have.
Why did you choose to pursue anthropology at Wayne State?
I chose it based on the honors program, the school's credentials and the proximity to my home. I realized it had everything I wanted while being close to home for financial and family reasons. Wayne State was also able to provide so many unique hands-on experiences for me that I didn't even know about before enrolling.
This summer, I'll be working on a research project with Dr. Lesnik and Dr. Stephen Chrisomalis. It's basically a feminist discourse analysis on anthropology textbooks. Kind of looking at how our reconstruction of hominin lifestyles may have been biased and sexist and colored our view of how we think our ancestors lived.
By Carly Adams, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences communications associate