Are Insects Worming Their Way Into the U.S. Diet?

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BY ANTHONY MARTINEZ

In 2013, a report from the United Nations urged people to consider one prospect: eating insects. The reasons are myriad. For one, the world’s nutritional demands are increasing as the earth’s population swells. Compared to raising livestock, raising insects takes substantially fewer resources and has a lighter toll on the environment. Insects are also incredibly nutritious. Gram for gram, crickets provide virtually the same amount of protein as beef — with half the fat. In addition, crickets pack a wallop of calcium, iron, manganese and zinc. Also, raising insects requires little space, compared to livestock.

Easy to raise, light on the environment, incredibly nutritious — so what’s stopping us? Arbitrary cultural taboos. Despite the fact that billions of people eat insects worldwide, in the U.S. eating insects is considered repulsive. (Ironic, considering we inadvertently consume 1 or 2 pounds of insects every year.) However, a number of companies have sprung up to answer the U.N.’s call. So whether you are trying to get more protein into your diet, or simply searching for a new culinary adventure, one of these products might be for you.

1. Exo

Since its humble beginnings at Brown University in January 2013, Exo has been producing protein bars made with cricket flour. Boasting 40 crickets per bar, Exo comes in eight different flavors, and if you really need a monthly fix, Exo offers a subscription service (Exo Elite) that will deliver boxes of bars to you.

2. Chirps Chips

With pastel-hued packaging and a slogan like “Eat what bugs you,” Six Foods’s Chirps Chips is marketing insects in style. Citing both the sustainability and nutritional value of crickets, Six Foods is hopping on a similar strategy as other insect-based companies: re-packaging insects in the form of a snack food.

3. Grub

Opting for the full range of insects, Grub offers bags of dried crickets, mealworms, buffalo worms and grasshoppers for all your bug-based recipes. In addition, the company sells cricket-filled fudge and a variety of pre-seasoned crickets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Martinez is a student pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Emerson College. Follow him @afidelmartinez.

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Photograph of cricket via Shutterstock

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