A batch of entrepreneurs has sprung up with a new industry aimed at taking the edge off global hunger: cricket flour.
To the Western palate, edible insects are foreign. For over two billion others worldwide, some two thousand different species of insects already show up in their diets. We’re talking spicy grasshopper tacos in Mexico, deep-fried locusts in China, and beetles throughout the tropics.
For the business-folk who are marketing crickets as a resource to new corners of the globe, the purpose isn’t simply to introduce new flavors to new palates. Instead, crickets are making a name for invertebrates as a sensible, sustainable food with the potential to counter the world’s rapidly expanding population, and its unsustainable dependency on the high-impact livestock industry.
Edible insects, if grown responsibly, are reported by the UN’s FAO as a potential resource to curb this global issue. Crickets, in particular, counter the need for meat because they happen to be nutrient dense, full of vitamins and protein. Harvesting crickets can also be relatively low-impact, low-cost and scalable, making it possible to reproduce in any climate without much technical knowhow.
While the research on the true impact of this expanding industry is still inconclusive, here’s just three of the entrepreneurs working to bring six-legged crickets to a grocery store near you:
In 2013, two students at Brown University started experimenting with crickets, eventually partnering with the chef from The Fat Duck Restaurant to launch a line of protein bars made with cricket flour. Exo’s lineup of bars includes familiar flavors like Blueberry Vanilla and Peanut Butter and Jelly.
They’ve put together these handy infographics that break down the nutritional value of their bars and show how they stand up to the meat industry:
Started by three conscious Harvard graduates, their new line of “Chirps” serves up a healthier, responsible version of the potato chip, made with more wholesome ingredients like beans, chia seeds, and yes, more cricket flour.
While cricket flour is more often a savory ingredient, the folks at Bitty aren’t afraid to bake their dry-roasted, ground crickets directly into their crunchy line-up of cookies, from the classic Chocolate Chip to a fancier Chocolate Cardamom.