The insect-as-food revolution may begin in the snack aisle.
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Like it or not, insects are probably the food of the future. Why? In short, they require few precious resources and produce huge amounts of protein.
Crickets, for example, contain 31 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat per 200 calories. Compare that to the 22 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat you'd get from a comparable chunk of cow. Factor in the amount of feed, water, and industrial resources required to produce beef versus crickets, and the balance of sustainability tips unequivocally in favor of our six-legged friends.
Okay, so, I know what you’re thinking: Crickets are yucky and steak is delicious. This is the main reason insects haven’t found their way into many western diets, even though billions of people around the world already eat them on a regular basis. But that particular argument isn't likely to hold up in the face of skyrocketing world population growth.
So what’s needed is a more appetizing use for insect protein than whole roasted bugs—a way to disguise them in a form more familiar to American diners. Let's say... chips?
That’s exactly what three Harvard graduates are doing with their startup, Six Foods. The company is using Kickstarter to launch a line of chips made—in part—from crickets. That’s right: cricket chips.
“Chirps,” as they’re so delightfully called, are baked chips made from beans, rice, oil, and cricket flour—an ingredient described as “slow-roasted milled crickets” that have been dried and crushed into a fine powder. According to the Kickstarter page, the insects contribute a “nutty accent” to the finished product.
What’s really amazing about Chirps is their nutritional value. They’re all-natural, gluten-free, high in protein, rich in calcium, and rife with iron. Even better, they contain just half the fat of normal chips. Currently, Six Foods is planning to release the insect snacks in three flavors: Sea Salt, Hickory BBQ, and Aged Cheddar.
Okay, so that’s all well and good, but how do they taste? Six Foods, of course, says they taste great—but they're hardly the most objective resource. I guess we’ll just have to wait until they ship later this year to find out. I, for one, am certainly willing to try them. I’ll try any insect-based product—just so long as it doesn’t actually look like an insect.