"We want to bring insects mainstream," says entrepreneur D'Asaro. "We call crickets the 'gateway bug' because there are over 2,000 varieties of edible insects being eaten all over the world, all with different tastes and nutritional values." And she's right. Crickets can be used in everything from a protein powder and in cocktail bitters to a meat replacement. As cricket and other insect farming grows and becomes the norm, expect to see insect protein as a regular ingredient in snacks.
For Bachhuber, cricket farming isn't just about cultivating and harvesting an underutilized food source, it's about reimagining the role humans play in the health and sustainability of the planet. "It's worth shifting the conversation around insects for human use and, more generally, biomanufacturing," Bachhuber says. "We're in need of new, non-oil-based solutions, and bugs, mushrooms and non-GMO yeast are becoming really significant. I'm obsessed with the idea of shrinking our agricultural footprint and rewilding the land; it would be great to have great plains actually in the Great Plains. I'd love to see forests where forests should be."
With the continued innovations of entrepreneurs and scientists like Bachhuber, insects and the humans who farm (and eat) them could shift the future for our planet.
Author's Note: How Cricket Farming Works
The prospect of eating crickets may still make many Americans squeamish, but the potential environmental and economic impact of integrating this practice (already hugely popular around the globe) is significant. The experts I interviewed really made it clear that cricket eating, and more broadly, entomophagy, isn't just another Instagrammable food trend; it's a practice that could help preserve our planet, provide agricultural jobs where they're needed and improve our nutritional habits. My adventurous streak isn't quite so adventurous, though. While I encourage curious eaters to go out and experiment, my plate will for now remain cricket-free.
More Great Links
- Abbott, Erica. "Shark Tank: Chirps Accepts Offer from Mark Cuban for $100,000." Business2Community. Jan. 27, 2017 (June 24, 2017). http://www.business2community.com/entertainment/shark-tank-chirps-accepts-offer-mark-cuban-100000-01765992#50wdtiorFHpivtuH.97
- Alternative Protein - Kevin Bachhuber. Video. TEDxYoungstown. Published on Feb. 9, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq52cQ4R_20 (June 21, 2017).
- Bachhuber Consulting Group. "About Us." http://bachhuberconsulting.com/about-us/ (June 23, 2017).
- Bachhuber, Kevin. Personal interview. June 21, 2017.
- D'Asaro, Laura. Personal correspondence. June 21, 2017.
- Evans, Robert. Bachhuber, Kevin. "I Farm Crickets, The Future Of Human Food: 7 Insane Truths." Cracked. Jan. 27, 2016 (June 20, 2017). http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2118-7-weird-lessons-americas-first-gourmet-cricket-farmer.html
- Gunther, Marc. "U.S. cricket farming scales up." FutureFood 2050. Feb. 18, 2015 (June 22, 2017). http://futurefood2050.com/us-cricket-farming-scales-up/
- Halloran, A, Hanboonsong, Y, Roos, N, Bruun, S. "Life cycle assessment of cricket farming in north-eastern Thailand." Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume #156, Pages 83–94. Jul. 10 2017. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652617307163
- Hanboonsong, Yupa. Jamjanya, Tasanee. Durst, Patrick B. "Six-legged livestock: Edible insect farming, collecting and marketing in Thailand." Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok. 2013. (June 24, 2017). http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3246e/i3246e.pdf
- Martin, Daniella. Personal correspondence. June 19, 2017.
- Martin, Daniella. "About." Girl Meets Bug (June 25, 2017). http://www.girlmeetsbug.com/
- McCausland, Phil. "How to Breed a Tasty Cricket." The Atlantic. Sept. 24, 2015 (June 24, 2017). https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/americas-cricket-farmers/406843/
- Michels, Spencer. "Bugs for Dinner?" PBS NewsHour. May 7, 2012 (June 22, 2017). http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/bugs-for-dinner/
- Pandell, Lexi. "Would You Like Flies With That?" Brink. April 30, 2013 (June 23, 2017). http://brinkmag.org/2013/04/30/bugs/
- Van Huis, Arnold, Van Itterbeeck, Joost, Klunder, Harmke, Mertens, Esther, Halloran, Afton, Muir, Giulia, Vantomme, Paul. "Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome. 2013 (June 22, 2017). http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e00.pdf
- Weiner, Miriam B. "Countries That Eat Bugs." U.S. News and World Reports. Aug. 11, 2014 (June 23, 2017). http://travel.usnews.com/features/countries_that_eat_bugs