Two dudes from Nordic Food Lab travel the world in search of the tastiest insects to eat. In each location, our foodies interact with the locales, discussing the various ways they forage for the insects, partake in said foraging, and most importantly, partake in the spoils of their finds. Let’s cut the shit here, the main draw of a film like this is the spectacle of watching people eat a ton of insects, and Bugs delivers slimy, throbbing spades.
One of the early scenes where they are foraging for termite queens, had me go through a whole range of emotions, and is a great showcase of what the documentary does well. The bulbous and perpetually throbbing blobs had me squirming at the sight of them. The two then go into how these queens are prized finds, comparing them to finding a full foie gras duck buried in the ground. Light hearted quips from they guys keep the documentary entertaining and keep interest even thought you might be reviled at what they are eating.
The process of cooking insects, like most recipes, have them undergoing a transformation from something that isn’t normally edible into something that makes you a little hungry. Sprinkle in facts about how many insects there are and the possibilities they can open as an alternate food source and you might be already thinking that this may be the food of the future.
Just when the initial enthusiasm built in witnessing the adventures of the Nordic Food Lab has most its viewers on the side that yes, insects are the next big thing for food, the documentary’s opinion and structure changed into something that had me scratching my head. When questioned about how the food industry can work with insects to formulate great alternate substitutes to overused and non-sustainable sources for protein and other nutrients, the easy going demeanor turns sour, and the talkative group’s interaction becomes stilted. Endlessly, they seem to go on that this is not about insects as an alternative food source, but rather, using insects as one instrument to change the large, money invested food corporations and systems which ‘ruin everything’. What? The statement itself sounds believable, but they film does not put any effort in explaining even at the highest of levels why this viewpoint is true.
Luckily, many of the other people they interact with act as a voice of reason, asking these same questions to our team. Insects will be more sustainable and easier to harvest than animals, with less impact on the planet. Will companies do this for free? Of course not, they are going to be looking to make a profit from this, but how is this bad? Instead of hearing answers all we get are more ad hominem to the ‘big corrupt food industry’ with no explanation. This all comes to a head when one of the duos has “had enough” of eating bugs and drops out of the documentary altogether.
The sudden shift in tone of the documentary was off-putting to say the least, but soon after tried to regain its former momentum by adding another member to the Nordic Food Lab to go on and continue. By this point, they were going through the same motions in forging and cooking interesting dishes, but I was caught up wondering when they were going to connect to the bigger picture and address some of those higher questions again, but yet that point never came.
Bugs started out strong and were able to add a little bit of extra entertainment to a big issue that is not nearly discussed enough. Unfortunately the film, whether due to opposing ideas, or lack of structure, was not crafted well enough to provide anything beyond the initial shock and factoids present within its trailer. It provides enough to get you to ask questions but ultimately left me not caring enough to seek out the answers for myself.