Are Crickets the Future of Food?

EXO bar with cricket flour

Of the many products we saw at Expo West last weekend, the weirdest one is a protein bar hailing from a nascent Brooklyn food company called EXO. Founded by 2 college roommates, Exo is made from an ingredient most Americans would find utterly repulsive – cricket flour. Yes, insects.

While the thought of eating insects is foreign to us Americans, in many parts of the world, insects of all varieties are part of people’s normal diets. Come to think of it, shrimp is an oversized critter too, but that doesn’t seem to bother most people.

Exo founders Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz have a simple mission:  to normalize the consumption of insects as a sustainable food source. In the chart below you can see some numbers to substantiate that claim. The company is currently sourcing their main ingredient from a cricket farm in Louisiana.

This raises some interesting questions. Will America’s rural landscape be dotted with cricket farms 20 or 30 years from now? Will neighboring towns prefer the noise pollution of crickets to today’s sickening stench of cow manure?

Last but not least – Do you see yourself eating foods with insect protein?

Crickets as Protein - Fact Sheet

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  • Raj

    No, I am vegetarian and get my protein from plant based food.

  • JKern

    Damn. I mean eating a succulent cricket thigh in BBQ sauce with a side of corn bread and slaw might be fine, but the whole thing all ground up into “flour”?? Does that mean I’m eating wings and those nasty little feet and eyeballs?

    There are about three ways to go here — continue to eat pig, cow, bird, — get protein from a bug so you can have a smaller environmental footprint — or be like Raj here — go vegetarian.

    If I chose not to eat animals (the big ones, not the little ones that freak you out), I’ll be having a tasty vegetarian curry. There’s plenty of plant-based protein without having to pick wings out of your granola bar!

    I do not see how this will appeal to omnivores, and it’s off the list for vegetarians. That leaves a really tiny market. But Starbucks could offer them to the gang who lament not having that red food coloring that was all the rage a couple years ago! :)

  • Casey

    The crickets aren’t a problem for me but the 14 grams of sugar make it a no: http://static3.businessinsider.com/image/51f801abecad047d10000006-620-565/exo_nutrional_facts%20(1).jpg

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Dates tend to be high in sugar. Same for honey. Even homemade bars would have 14 grams of sugar.

  • Belinda

    Is this even legal? The FDA has clear limits on how many insect parts are acceptable (yes, some insect parts we already eat) in food. For example, it may be 30 parts per 100 grams. While it may appear large, it’s actually very very tiny. I’m guessing the insect parts in cricket flour will be – what – 1000 parts per 100 grams? How is this legal?

    • Carol H

      USDA actually regulates this, and they have given the go-ahead to use at least one breed of cricket for people food. Processing sanitation, etc. also must be in compliance, just like with meat (which starts out as filthy if not more so). Interesting “crickbits” http://cricket-breeding.com/category/cricket-biology/

  • Aspentreegirl

    I’m all for it!

    • neecie

      I’d go for it. Unfortunately, in no time we’ll hear they were sprayed with some chemical, you-name-it. Give me “au naturelle” crickets!!!

  • cassidy

    I’m an 18 year old and even though our “image” comes from having an open mind; that right there is just plain out nasty!

  • Kelli

    Actually cricket flour doesn’t seem that bad to me. I think I would try it. I would not eat a whole cricket though.

  • Aran

    It doesn’t sound like it would taste great but hey, I’d give it a shot – you never know.

  • enayday

    I Can See The As A Late Nite Movie snack. Just Like Dried Sardines. Well At Least Until The Farmers Start Injecting The Crickets With Growth Hormones.

  • Mike the Dragon

    I would definitely try it. Anything to help out the planet and at the same time eat healthy sounds good to me. Plus I have no problem breeding and raising insects for food, I do feel bad about the same treatment for larger and more advanced sentient beings like cattle, pigs and even chickens. They taste good, but I hate to see them suffer. Don’t feel the same way about fish or insects. Not in the suffering part of course, just in the fact that they will lose their life to sustain ours. Somehow I don’t feel as bad with fishes and insects as I do of a piggy or cow. Might be hypocritical but it’s my opinion.

    • AimeeLC

      Don’t know about fish, but there was a small piece recently in the Washington Post which stated that octopi do experience pain…(horrifically below a photo of a Japanese couple eating a live one together!)

  • DaniellaMartin

    For more info on why and how to eat insects, check out my book, “Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet: http://www.amazon.com/Edible-Adventure-Eating-Insects-Planet/dp/0544114353

  • Farida AL-Rimawi

    There is no way I’ll eat that !

  • Ylloh

    We already know all “bad” cholesterol comes from animal and animal products (beef, pork, dairy), how much cholesterol is there in cricket flour if technically it’s an animal product? Though it’s a great idea globally, I don’t see Americans saying”mmmm yum lets have cricket steak for dinner.”

  • Susan

    I like to think of myself as an adverterous eater. But insects is a whole different story. You couldn’t pay me enough to eat this!! Blah!

  • Aria Gonzalez

    Damn, this is what I get when I don’t check the blog for a while… I actually backed this on Kickstarter and now I have a monthly subscription. Although for how long is the question, shipping to Canada is brutal. Anyway, these are delicious although I wish there was something other than protein bars available. I’d like to try baking with the flour.

  • Sam

    I’ve heard of this idea before and personally would love to see these on the market. I’m sensitive to milk, soy, & certain nuts which make up the majority of protein sources for protein bars. I’ve eaten chocolate-covered crickets before & the only part that bothered me was the legs (which wouldn’t be a problem ground up), the rest is similar in texture to a Nestle crunch bar.