Not In Our Kitchens, But Maybe In Yours?

This is a subject that we will be seeing more of, for sure. But for the record, a basic rule we live by at Raxa Collective is that we never have and never will slip such critters into food on the sly. We see the day coming, though we are not confident to predict how soon, when it is taken for granted that some portion of protein in the diets of people in even the most well-developed economies comes from insects. One more story in that vein,from our friends at the EcoWatch website, inspired by the recent TedX talk linked to above:

Maybe you’ve see little cans of chocolate-covered ants or grasshoppers in the exotic food section of your grocery and thought to yourself, “Yuck—who eats that?” Insects may not come to mind when you think of superfoods. But they could be the next hot “alternative” protein. They’re low in fat and loaded with fiber.

You might be surprised to learn you may have been eating insects already. More than 30 companies are already using cricket flour in their products such as cookies and energy bars. And while eating insects is common in Latin America, southeast Asia and parts of Africa because they’re a cheaply available commodity, in the U.S. food items containing cricket flour, which is still expensive to produce, are being marketed as artisan products intended for adventurous foodies eager to try something before everyone else.

“Demand for food-grade insects is growing rapidly,” says the website for Tiny Farms, a Silicon Valley-based start-up “pioneering the industry production of insects.”

Currently, it admits, edible insects are a niche products with the cost of a pound of cricket flour ranging from $25-$45. But it says that’s due to lack of scale and it hopes to change that.

“Right now in February 2015,” said a recent post on the Tiny Farms blog “there are dozens of restaurants around the country experimenting with insects on their menus—from culinary hubs like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City to more conservatively palated Austin, Texas and Youngstown, Ohio. Food startups Exo, Chapul, Hopper Foods and Bitty Foods are ramping up production of their cricket flour energy bars and baked goods and growing their brick-and-mortar distribution networks in addition to serving up online sales. Exo’s bars are even slated to be included in a snack box served on JetBlue Airlines flights. Boston-based Six Foods is preparing to launch their cricket chips, and dozens more new companies are developing products, business plans and marketing strategies to serve edible insects to the Western masses.”

Youngstown, Ohio is mostly known for the death of its once-prosperous steel industry, which shrunk the city from 170,000 people to 65,000. But maybe it will become the edible insect capitol of the U.S. Big Cricket Farms, a project mentored by Tiny Farms, bills itself as “America’s first urban cricket farm.” Launched just last year, it says it’s “devoted exclusively to raising human-grade entomophagical products” and that its crickets are fed high-quality, organic, sustainable feed. Founder Kevin Bachhuber first got the idea when he found himself snacking on bugs during a trip to Thailand and “found them to be delicious.”

“So I raise bugs and I feed them to people,” said Bachhuber in a recent TEDxYoungstown talk. “I’m shocked at how popular this has proven to be.”…

Read the whole article here.

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