Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Jul

Why Eating Insects Makes Sense

CricketFlowerFullI’m grateful to have our friend Gabi Lewis, founder of Exo, pen today’s guest post. Exo is running a Kickstarter campaign to bring an insect protein bar to market. Learn more and donate here. (Full disclosure: I’m exploring the possibility of becoming an investor myself.) Enter Gabi…

It’s a safe bet to assume that insects don’t feature prominently on your current menu. My aim in this post is to convince you that they absolutely should. Whether your goal is to most accurately replicate an ancestral diet, minimize the ecological impact of your food consumption, or simply optimize your own performance, eating insects just makes sense.

While it has gained renewed attention recently1, entomophagy – the consumption of insects – is nothing new. In fact, as eclectic omnivores, it’s likely that we’ve consumed insects, the most abundant terrestrial life form excluding bacteria, for an exceedingly long time. Evidence that our earliest ancestors ate insects includes analyses of fossilized feces from caves and the fact that all extant nonhuman primates are insectivorous2. Fast forward a few million years and Aristotle’s brain-food of choice was cicadas (packed with omega-3 fatty acids). Today, 80% of the world still eats over 1,600 species of insects, from Jing Leed in Thailand to Escamoles in Mexico to Casu Marzu in Italy. Deeply rooted in our history as a species, entomophagy is as primal as cave painting in a loin cloth (more so actually, since it predates tools).

There are additional convincing arguments for embracing entomophagy. Insects are exceptionally nutritious. They contain up to 91% protein by dry weight3 with amino acid compositions that are superior to most alternatives4. They are an excellent source of fat and are high in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and linolenic acid5. Insects also tend to be high in micronutrients such as B-vitamins, beta-carotene, and vitamin E6. Crickets, for example, contain substantially more iron than beef. Considered purely from a nutritional perspective, eating insects is a no-brainer. There is even some evidence linking a departure from entomophagy in rural Mexico to the deteriorations in health of those concerned7.

Coupled with the health benefits of entomophagy are the environmental ones. The negative impact that livestock has on our planet is well documented; it accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gases, more than emissions from cars, trains, and planes combined8. As our population grows, these problems will only get worse. Insect protein, however, is uniquely sustainable for a number of reasons. First, insects are poikilothermic, meaning that they can match their internal body temperatures to the external environment and consequently exert less energy (meaning less feed) maintaining their body temperatures than their warm-blooded counterparts9. As well as requiring little feed, insects require barely any water. It takes 3,290 liters of water to produce 150g of beef, but virtually none to produce 150g of grasshopper protein10. Insects also have greater reproductive thrust than conventional livestock; a single female cricket can lay 1,500 eggs in four weeks11. For all these reasons, it’s estimated that Acheta Domestica (house cricket) is twenty times more efficient as a source of protein than cattle12.

I’ve outlined strictly rational arguments for entomophagy, but it would be naïve to ignore the cultural taboo that exists. In his 1885 manifesto, Why Not Eat Insects?, Vincent Holt worried that “it may require a strong effort of will to reason ourselves out of the stupid prejudices that have stood in our way for ages.” He found a theoretical solution in the idea that “fashion is the most powerful motive in the world,” and there are historical precedents to support this. Americans and Europeans considered sushi repulsive until an enterprising chef in LA replaced Toro with avocado and created the inside-out California Roll (disguising the raw fish inside). It spread from Hollywood to the rest of the country and on to Europe. Thirty years ago we would have viewed a plate of sashimi with revulsion; now most of us are willing to spend big bucks to get it.

We’re already starting to see fashion serve as a motive for behavioral change. Some of the world’s best restaurants regularly feature insects on their menu. Noma, located in Copenhagen and ranked the number one restaurant in the world for three years, has served a fermented cricket soy sauce, and its experimental arm, Nordic Food Lab, recently received at 3.6 million Kronor grant to explore gourmet entomophagy13. Inventions are appearing for raising your own edible insects at home14. There’s even talk of using insect protein for space travel and habitation15. My own company, Exo, launched a crowdfunding campaign yesterday. By creating protein bars made with cricket flour (slow roasted and finely ground crickets), we hope to create a vehicle to introduce entomophagy to the West – a kind of California Roll of insects.

It has been hypothesized that the West’s aversion to entomophagy comes from a subconscious desire to disassociate from our hunter-gatherer ancestors16. It is obvious, however, that to optimize human performance, we are well served by returning to practices that have, for thousands of years, influenced our genetic makeup. The Primal health community is built upon the intelligent and gradual reclamation of these practices, and entomophagy is the next step in the process. By overcoming our conditioned biases and utilizing insects as a more ecologically efficient protein source, we can shift eating patterns in a direction that is healthier for humans and better for the planet.

exo spread 1

Exo launched a Kickstarter campaign on July 29th, with a goal of raising $20,000. Exo’s first protein bar, formulated with a three Michelin Star chef, contains cricket flour, almonds, dates, coconut, raw cacao, honey and sea salt. Support Exo here.

1Should We Eat More Insects? The U.N. Thinks So.

2Ramos-Elorduy B., (2009), The importance of edible insects in the nutrition and economy of people of the rural areas of Mexico. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 36: 347-366.

3Bukkens SGF., (2005). Insects in the human diet. Ecological Implications of Minilivestock: Potential of Insects, Rodents, Frogs and Snails, 545–77.

4DeFoliart, G.R., (2002). The human Use of Insects as a Food Resource: A Bibliographic Account in Progress.

5Yang LF, Siriamornpun S, Li D., (2006). Polyunsaturated fatty acid content of edible insects in Thailand. J. Food Lipids 13(3):277–85.

6Banjo, A.D., Lawal, O.A., Songonuga, E.A., (2006). The nutritional value of fourteen species of edible insects in southwestern Nigeria. African Journal of Biotechnology, 5:298–301.

7Ramos-Elorduy, J., (1997). Insects: A sustainable source of food? Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 36: 247-27.

8Livestock a major threat to environment

9Lindroth, R.L., (1993). Food conversion efficiencies of insect herbivores. Food Insects Newsletter, 6: 9–11.

10Walsh, Bryan, (2008). Eating Bugs. Time.

11Capinera, J. L., (2004). Encyclopedia of Entomology. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

12Nakagaki, B.J,, DeFoliart, G.R., (1991). Comparison of diets for mass-rearing Acheta domesticus (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) as a novelty food, and comparison of food conversion efficiency with values reported for livestock. Journal of Economical Entomology, 84:891–6.

13Major funding awarded for edible insect research in Denmark

14Raise Your Own Edible Bugs With This Decorative Kitchen Pod

15Katayama, N., Yamashita, M., Kishida, Y., Liu, C., Watanabe, I. Wada, H., (2008). Azolla as a component of the space diet during habitation on Mars. Acta Astronautica, 63: 1093-1099.

16Vane-Wright RI., (1991). Why not eat insects? Bulletin of. Entomological Research. 81:1–4.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I eat shrimp, so why not crickets or locusts. If they taste good without the need to process them, and do not carry disease (I have heard that some can carry cholera iirc?) and they are not expensive, I will eat it. As long as it is not in the category of raspberry ketones and super-duper costs its weight in gold food X.

    Honestly, i would rather someone started raising & selling rabbits.

    leida wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Exo? Great name for the company. Must be short for Exoskeleton.

      Nocona wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Get’em to market. I’ll try them!

      Tina wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • That’s the goal!

        Gabi Lewis wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I will as well. They actually look pretty good.

        Kristy wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • my classmate’s aunt makes ($)68/hour on the laptop. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her payment was ($)20459 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more… c­a­n9­9.ℂ­ℴ­M

      Mary B. Leblanc wrote on August 1st, 2013
  2. i am repulsed by the idea of eating insects, but I would probably try a protein bar. I wish someone would just hand me one though without me knowing what it was made of. This is a very interesting idea…

    Merky wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Cook most things and not tell anyone what it is (or tell them a lie), and they would most likely enjoy it. But tell most folks that they are eating a cricket, and they get all grossed out. Just think of eggs and crack one open…we grew up with them and love them, but they are really gross if you really think about it!

      Nocona wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • You could cook someone’s child and they’d enjoy it until they knew what it was! :)

        Patrick wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • If you have to kill with your bare hands, skin it, chop the flesh and cook it before eating, a majority of the meat eaters would stop eating meat.

          As long it comes wrapped as nice cuts or cooked with garnishes on a plate, it is a different game altogether.

          BT wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • Actually the act of slaughtering the animal or even watching the slaughter of an animal you’re about to eat is a perfectly natural healthy experience. It’s fine if you’re a vegan, do your own thing, but lets also remember that you’re still killing a living thing (possibly hundreds of crickets/locusts). Those darned things (animals and insects) just have so much delicious protein!!! :D. Speaking of Locusts aren’t they Kosher and/or Halal??

          Dennis wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • @Dennis
          BT never said that he (I’ll just he/she is male) was vegan. I agree with his statement that a lot of people would not be able to eat meat when they would have to do all the steps themselves, or were immediately confronted with them. Probably not as much of the people here, though :)

          There is a lot of unnecessary vegan-bashing around here sometimes, and a lot of arguments used against it are completely invalid. As are a lot of typical vegan arguments, at least in the form used. I totally respect “ethical” vegans (as opposed to those who may be vegan or vegetarian for “health” reasons). In fact, I have considered veganism myself, but have decided that I rank my own physical welfare higher than the life of the animal, as part of a totally arbitrary value judgement.

          Postscript: Read BT’s second comment below, which is a more passive-aggressive attack of mammal meat consumption. “Meat is meat” is definitely one of the arguments not valid in this application.

          Chris wrote on August 1st, 2013
  3. This is AWESOME. and this is so true – “fashion is the most powerful motive in the world,” — YUP. things are only gross because a certain “trend” deems them so. I’ve tried crickets, which were delicious, so bring on the rest of ‘em!

    Charlotte wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Fashion doesn’t eliminate the “ick” factor. I would say that hunger is the most powerful motive. If a person gets hungry enough they will eat anything. Frankly, I can’t see myself getting hungry enough to knowingly or willingly eat bugs any time soon.

      Shary wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I hear that! I can’t even eat food that’s been colored with cochineal dye, due to the ick factor.

        Cyborcat wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I think the point was that “fashion” is entirely responsible for the ick factor. Just about any food can be considered icky if we think about where it comes from or how it grows. If there were some inherent ickiness in bugs, or any other food, people wouldn’t eat them in any country or culture. The only real ickiness comes from toxins or off-flavors that let us know that something is not food, or at least not good food. Repulsion to eating insects in Western culture is purely a result of ingrained social prejudices – or what the writer calls “fashion.”

        Mantonat wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Aren’t we repulsed by them because once we starting storing our grain harvests, the presence of insects meant the grain was spoiled – I seem to recall that eating weevils and other grain bugs CAN make you very ill.

          Also, insects on our stored meat is seldom a good thing, flies and maggots come to mind, so I think the revulsion began around the time we farmed and started to keep larders of food, and therefore that is after the paleo era, for whatever that’s worth.

          Patrick wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • Comfort with eating a piece of cow or a pig slaughtered elsewhere and discomfort with slaughtering one’s own pet dog and eating them is perhaps another ingrained social prejudice as well.

          Meat is meat, no?

          BT wrote on July 31st, 2013
      • “Fashion doesn’t eliminate the “ick” factor.”

        Fashion CREATES the ick factor.

        Go to a Thailand market and see how many people are saying “ick” while buying dozens (hundreds) of different types of insects that they consider absolutely delicious.

        michael wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • Fashion totally eliminates the ick factor. Fashion and conventional wisdom literally define the ick factor, and your comment in a way proves it.

        Let me start with actual “fashion”–the clothing industry. What is normal Summer attire, baggy, long shorts and oversized t-shirts would be considered only for circus clowns when I was young, and my kids can’t stop laughing at pictures of me in high school with my short shorts. Pre-teen girls wear clothes that would have identified them as street walkers 50 years ago.

        And food–farm animals are mammals, which in general are pretty high on the scale of animal intelligence. Cows and pigs have social orders, individual personalities, likes and dislikes. And these things we call “steaks” are really the end product of killing an animal that was maybe grazing on grass with its family members yesterday and dismembering it. That red liquid your steak is covered in isn’t exactly dye. If you think about it logically, all of that is pretty damn icky. But we don’t think of it that way because the social convention (fashion) is to think of a cow as just a big container that holds different types of food.

        And you can make similar arguments with other foods, of course. Lobster and crab are distant cousins of terrestrial insects, but food fashion has deemed them as non-icky. Gabi mentioned suchi, same thing.

        When I was a kid crappy Americanized Chinese food was considered pretty “out there” where I lived. Now my grandson was begging me to take him to eat sushi by about age six. All it’ll take to get insects on the menu is for a couple of A-listers to be seen chomping on crickets at Hatfield’s and some hip movie to feature the star nom nom nomming on some grashoppers, and it’ll be on. And, of course, Having a protein bar-like snack like the one Exo is proposing will speed the whole thing along even more.

        Aside from all of that, it just f-ing makes sense to eat insects. It takes years and a lot of resources to make a cow ready for slaughter, and an insect crop can be made table ready in what, weeks?

        Mark B wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Let’s not forget that the bible deems lobster and crab as icky.

          Btw, fried insects are delicous snacks.

          Chris wrote on August 1st, 2013
  4. I’m aware I’m about to out myself as a massive weirdo but… I’d rather eat insects than most crustaceans!

    Good luck with Exo.

    PrimalParkGirl wrote on July 30th, 2013
  5. another problem I see is the nutritional facts of the bar itself. While cricket flour may be high in protein and fat and low in carbs, they have made the bar relatively low protein and high carb, not something I would find ideal for a product I would use as a “protein bar”. 2 scoops of whey is going to give me at least double the protein with much less carbs. Just something for them to think about…

    Merky wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • I agree with this. Cricket flour is the 5th ingredient on the list so there can’t be that much in the bar. Given that almonds are the first ingredient and coconut is 3rd most of the 10g of protein are coming from them and not the crickets.

      bpeck wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • Thanks for the feedback!

        This is just the very first bar, intended to compete with the likes of Lara/Clif and demonstrate that insect protein can be delicious as well as sustainable and nutritious.

        We have more recipes being developed including options that are lower sugar, higher protein + fat.

        Gabi

        Gabi Lewis wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • oh, that’s the one I want then, for sure. Insects? Pfft! No problem. heading to your crowdsourcing link now. great idea (why didn’t I think of that!?!?!).

          Stéphane wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • I would love to try the Exo bar, but Yes, I’d be more interested if it had more protein, no honey, and just the minimal dates….

          Consuelo wrote on August 5th, 2013
    • +1 this a an almond bar like Larabar.
      Make a cricket bar, that has more protein than carbs and I would be interested. Snack bar? Maybe, but probably a dessert bar.

      MikeD wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I agree – the carbs are way too high. I would buy one for the novelty, split it with my husband, and probably not get one again unless it tasted so incredibly super-duper that I HAD HAD HAD to have it.

        And, Gabi, you didn’t ask about name ideas, but I think that calling it “Cricket Bar”, as MikeD says, is actually a pretty cool idea. Hey, I can see a whole line – Cricket Bar, Grasshopper Bar (it would have mint flavoring, no?), and Cicada Bar (maybe with berries that look like cicada eyes??). Okay, I’m out of insects that might be vaguely appetizing-sounding, but I’m sure you can come up with more. I’m going to say, though, that you can probably rule out a Cockroach Bar!

        Cathy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • I agree with the carbs being a bit high, but this sounds like an awesome start! my entomology club at University of Wyoming has been putting on an “insects as food” demo every year as a fundraiser, and it’s always been a wild success. Fashion really does dictate so much. I really hope this will have a big positive impact in the right direction. Bugs rock! It would be great if this helps make entomophagy more mainstream, and especially if there then start to be more products available for home use – like packaged cricket flour for baking.

          Hallations wrote on August 1st, 2013
  6. 3,290 L of water to produce 150g of beef? That’s 870 gallons to produce 1/3 pound?

    Gray Whale wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • My main reason against recycling is the unseen energy and water footprint. Plus most recycling plants are municipal based so taxes have to be collected to operate them. True cost point is masked out. At least with beef I have the choice to select my protein source based upon agriculture practicings I think are best.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I totally agree. It took me a while to realize that water is a resource, too, especially if it has to go through a processing plant. My city charges for both garbage disposal and recycling, so if has to be subsidized with tax money, it’s impossible to tell it’s true cost.

        The other thing is that economics encourages recyclers. Animal rendering, scrap metal recycling, and paper recycling were all in place before recycling became mandated.

        Amy wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • Sure, but manufacturing a new ______ probably uses at least as much water, likely more. So recycling is the lesser evil.

        Remember there’s two other R’s in there: reduce–and if you can’t reduce, reuse–and if you can’t reuse, then it’s time to recycle. I get all twitchy when people use the existence of recycling as as excuse to buy bottled water.

        As for eating cricket powder? Sure. No problemo. But whole bugs will take me a lot more time and social conditioning. The California roll effect!

        Julie wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • I do agree with the concept with reduce and reuse if it is economically viable to do so. Without a price cost difference between fabricating X with Recycled Materials and X with New Materials everything is not only speculation, but the conclusion “so recycling is the lesser evil” insults logic. Not all products are the same.

          “I do not always drink bottled water, but when I do I prefer Fiji”.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • +1 on Fiji! Have a bottle sitting beside me – it’s the only bottled water I will drink. It tastes like water. And hopefully it comes from where it says it comes from (nothing like a “fresh spring” out of New Jersy!)

          Heather wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Fried, and then dusted with chili powder. Totally worth trying if you get the chance. I tried the first one tenitively, then ate the whole bag full.
          Granted, I had grashoppers when I first tried insects, but crickets should be similar. You can order them from Amazon.

          His Dudeness wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • You’re telling me that it takes less energy and water to mine/smelt aluminum ore than to melt down a can? Or to cut down a tree and process the pulp into paper than to recycle paper? I’m highly skeptical.

        Piper A R wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Sure Paleo Ron Burgundy, but I thought we were talking about water use, not cost. Cost is a whole other thing.

          Julie wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Possibly. Maybe recycling aluminum is economically viable on a certain scale. Maybe a nice ore deposit near a smelter and rail has a high volume, lower cost per metric ton versus recycling. It is not black and white since it depends on the product being recycled, efficiencies and how it is being recycled. A municipality recycling facility uses tax payer money, versus say a scrap yard. Given the track record of municipals I’d think they have less incentive to be efficient due to the power to tax.

          Life cycle of the recycled products must be taken into account too. The item being recycled has all initial/previous production costs and materials used “built into the cake”.

          My point is the amount of water and energy required to collect the soon to be recycled goods, the processes used to separate and purify the materials into reusable materials, move those materials to where production is required, is not clear. If you can point to commodity prices of new aluminum vs recycled aluminum then the spread, if any, is the answer.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • @Julie: I did not know water was free.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • A few years back I was researching a startup company specializing in bioplastics. I think they were synthesizing plastic from cellulose. Cool idea but I think they never made it past a penny stock.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Of course not. But there’s a whole lot more to it than “water costs $x/gallon.” Economy of scale plays a big role, and virgin commodity production gets to dodge a lot of “true costs” in the lingo of us tree-huggers, mostly the costs associated with cleaning up the mess. And there’s those tax breaks they get. Believe you me, I’d love it if the competition between virgin and recycled commodities took place on the level field of uncorrupted economics.

          Julie wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I temped in a plastic bottle-making plant in college. It actually took zero water to recycle old plastic bottles into new ones, and the factory purchased recycled, sorted plastics of the same type every day in order to chop it into a fine dust and melt it into bottle forms. Of course, other uses for plastic may require more water.

        I have no idea how much water it takes to create new plastic.

        michael wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • “That’s 870 gallons to produce 1/3 pound?”

      Who really knows? I could easily see someone crunching the numbers in a way to produce that and/or picking an inefficient farm. On the other hand our household goes through like 30ish gallons of water a day and we’re reasonably efficient. And agricultural does get priority in the Western US for water. I’m confused.

      Amy wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I am very skeptical about the water figures. Keep in mind that for grass-fed beef it isn’t just the cattle that are using the water. DUH! I am familiar with livestock ranching in California (from the environmental protection side – I have a contract with U.S. Fish & Wildlife). Cattle ranchers protect sensitive species, as do hunters, anglers, organic rice growers and the U.S. military.

        Harry Mossman wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Yeah, I don’t really believe statistics like that. How much water does grass fed beef use? Probably less than feedlot. And cattle are only in feedlots for maybe what, three months? But I AM sure that insects are better… :)

      Aria wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • “3,290 L of water to produce 150g of beef? That’s 870 gallons to produce 1/3 pound?”

      For anyone who’s interested, Chris Kresser wrote a great article on the environmental impact of red meat and addressed both this statistic and the ‘18% of greenhouse gases’ statistic. I think it’s worth a read (:

      http://chriskresser.com/the-real-environmental-impact-of-red-meat-part-1

      Alyssa wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • That was my objection also. Assuming about 1500 lbs of food from the cow, raised 3 years until slaughter, I calculate the cow is guzzling almost 3600 gallons per day of its life. If she meant 150 pounds, that would still be almost 8 gallons per day. That seems closer but still high.

      Joshua wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • “3,290 L of water to produce 150g of beef? That’s 870 gallons to produce 1/3 pound?”

      But remember it doesn’t just vanish, it goes right back into the cycle at some point, even down to the water retained in the meat that you eat, then flush away after your body’s used it, so it re-enters the system.

      The water argument is flawed so long as farms are responsible non-polluters and create waste that can be handled in a way to reclaim the water, or allow it to re-enter the water-table by rearing their animals outdoors in pastures, pens, etc. – with minimal use of drugs, hormones as well, because these tend to stick around after processing the water and end up in our drinking and bathing water.

      But those caveats aside, the argument that raising animals for food uses too much water can also be used for trees, which consume gallons of the stuff over centuries, and it would be insane to say this means we need to reduce or eliminate all forests on that basis.

      I also wonder how much more water and resources get used, and animals killed in grotesquely torturous ways in medical labs, to find obesity, diabetes & disease “cures” for all the ills caused to humanity by a low-meat, low-fat, high-carb diet?

      Patrick wrote on July 31st, 2013
      • We are not farmers, but we rent a farmhouse and an acre in the middle of a farm that raises beef cattle.

        We have a well. We and about a hundred head of cattle drink from that well, and we also shower, do laundry, cook, do dishes, etc.

        And we have septic on the other side of the house, which means no water we use is “wasted” since it winds up in the pasture or in the garden anyways. I have never tried to “save” water since we’ve lived here since it’s “free”.

        This house is several hundred years old and has never had water “added” to it except a few summers back when we had a bad bunch of storms and were without electric for over a week. We had to buy water for drinking and ice for refrigeration and the farmer had to haul water in for the cattle. There the problem was not being able to run the electrical pump, not a shortage of water. There is the remains of a well house and a cistern here, so apparently they’ve been using this same water forever.

        All the cattle that have been raised here for HUNDREDS of years have been raised on the rain and snow that falls on the land. Mostly cause this land doesn’t have too many people/animals for the amount of water we get, unlike other areas (I am in central PA).

        Most of the water they intake works similarly to our water use in the house, except they just spread it over the pastures and hayfields directly instead of having a septic system. Sure, some is lost through the removal of the animals themselves, and some is lost through evaporation, but not more than what falls.

        So IME, you can raise generation after generation of cattle on the same water forever. No matter how much water that is per animal or pound of beef, you can keep using it.

        jpatti wrote on August 24th, 2013
    • A cow may consume that much water, but it does noes not just disappear. I have cows on my pasture & find it is much healthier when they’re there. It fertilizes & conditions the soil so that I can irrigate less (hardly at all) & never fertilize.
      As a semi-homesteader I find cows are a vital addition to the health & sustainability of my land. Most of a cows life is spent on pasture preventing wildfires & conditioning soil before they are unfortunately taken to a feedlot to eat corn & soy. Don’t begrudge the cow, begrudge the last step in their life where we “finish” them artificially on lots.

      momupthecreek wrote on August 1st, 2013
  7. This definitely sparked some interest, but how does one go about preparing insects to eat? I’m interested to hear some ideas. I’ve gulped down crickets before, but they were covered in chocolate!

    Jon T wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Lightly fried in coconut oil. Dusted with seasoning.

      His Dudeness wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • That sounds good as far as taste, but it’s the legs that gross me out. I would rather sautee up some grubs with garlic and palm oil, because of the leg thing. And antennae. Do you cut them all off when prepping them?

        Joanne wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • +1 to the legs issue. I am reminded of the commercial. It’s not hard to find live crickets around here during fishing season. I might have to try that.

          Also +1 to trying the cricket bar — especially if it were low in carbs and high in fat.

          Rhonda the Red wrote on July 31st, 2013
        • And the wings! What in the world do you do with the wings, legs, antenna, and those “hairy” things poking out the back? MAJOR ick!!

          NMCynthia wrote on August 1st, 2013
  8. I would certainly try insects, but another processed sugary glorified “healthy” candy bar will not be the way I try them. Maybe I’m weird, but I want my unusual meats to taste like unusual meats. What is the point of trying something new if you aren’t going to actually taste it?

    Also, I suspect the statistics about greenhouse emissions and water consumption refer to factory farmed feedlot meat, not grass fed, which I understand is much more sustainable.

    Markbt wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • This is just supposed to be the start for insects. California rolls aren’t the best type of sushi either, but they were accessible. To get people to overcome their phobia, sweet is probably the place to start.

      Aria wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • I read somewhere that grass-fed/grazing is much better for the environment.

      Fred Timm wrote on July 30th, 2013
  9. I like the idea of adding this as an option to a primal plate of food. Meat, veggies, nuts, insects, fruit.

    Basil Cronus wrote on July 30th, 2013
  10. Let’s do it! Bugs turn me off too but I’m intrigued. I’d definitely rather eat that than GMO soy, wheat and other “foods” only useful to bring about the downfall of man. Yes, the bar is not low carb enough for me which is an issue but this is only the first product. I’ll get a kick out of trying one and seeing the reactions of others. It could be one of the more interesting tiny investments you make :)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • I’m gonna take these to the gym and eat them right after a hard workout. And probably freak people out. XD Fun times!

      Aria wrote on July 30th, 2013
  11. About the “negative impact that livestock has on our planet”, it sounds like “death by fart”… but that’s like blaming firefighters for the fires… The real problem in that particular point is the desertification that’s happening across the planet, which causes inability to sequester CO2. In fact, more livestock could restore the ecosystem, as described in this TED Talk by Allan Savory: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

    Daniel wrote on July 30th, 2013
  12. I would eat them so long as they are ground up, no “ick” factor that way.

    Steve62 wrote on July 30th, 2013
  13. “Some of the world’s best restaurants regularly feature insects on their menu. Noma, located in Copenhagen and ranked the number one restaurant in the world for three years, has served a fermented cricket soy sauce, and its experimental arm, Nordic Food Lab, recently received at 3.6 million Kronor grant to explore gourmet entomophagy”

    Who gets to rank restaurants? And why don’t I get to rank restaurants? *sigh* This is going to turn into a whole lobster thing where poor man’s food turns gourmet. (Lobsters are just giant bugs – they aren’t worth the effort, either, unless I was starving to death.)

    “Thirty years ago we would have viewed a plate of sashimi with revulsion; now most of us are willing to spend big bucks to get it.”

    I’d like to change the word “most” to “a significant group” in the above statement. In the circles I hang with, I can’t think of a person who has gone out of their way to get sushi. It exists but it’s not really on the radar screen for many Americans. I’ll give you the word “most” when I see a church/community fundraiser proudly feature sushi. ;)

    I’ve tried a California roll, which, let’s face it, is the basically a Lox and cream cheese bagel with a little seaweed thrown in. My experience was “meh”. There’s lots of other food that I much prefer for the cost. I feel the same about lobster, with the added issue that I tend to react to bottom/filter feeders. Shrimp is also off the list for me and I’m not entirely sorry about that either.

    “By creating protein bars made with cricket flour (slow roasted and finely ground crickets), we hope to create a vehicle to introduce entomophagy to the West – a kind of California Roll of insects.”

    I’m going to start by saying I’m *probably not* your target demographic. You’re probably better off consulting successful gourmet marketeers. My 2 cents anyway — a bar like that would have to taste pretty close to a 1/2 decent protein bar (not hard) *and* I’d want it to be cheaper. All of the environmental niceties that go with insect raising *should* translate to cheaper food, in the absence of subsidies. If I’m going to eat the food of last resort (and let’s face it, the kids were probably *not* saying “oh, boy crickets”, even in hunter/gather days), I’d like to save some coin to do so.

    However, cheaper food doesn’t make it gourmet, so you’d probably be best off creating some ridiculous margin for the bars. :)

    Amy wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • “This is going to turn into a whole lobster thing where poor man’s food turns gourmet.”

      The difference is that it takes 6-8 years to make a nice-sized lobster, so that many lobster habitats have been over-harvested for decades, driving up prices. It only takes a few months to make many adult bugs.

      So at least the price won’t change for those of us who don’t frequent gourmet restaurants.

      michael wrote on July 30th, 2013
  14. I know insects are in theory good for you and all and in other cultures there even a common thing to eat but I think I’ll pass haha

    Matt wrote on July 30th, 2013
  15. I would try the cricket flour. I’d also try crunching down on a whole, live cicada. You could easily incorporate bugs into any food without others noticing, and it probably wouldn’t affect the taste at all. Why not do it?

    Erin wrote on July 30th, 2013
  16. In China, insects have always been a part of their diet. Have to admit that I couldn’t quite bring myself to try any of it when I was there.

    Dean wrote on July 30th, 2013
  17. Would you take on more investors? And if so how?

    Ethan wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Potentially, yes. Contact info is on our website if you’d like to email me and I can tell you more.

      Gabi Lewis wrote on July 30th, 2013
  18. >Coupled with the health benefits of entomophagy are the environmental ones. The negative impact that livestock has on our planet is well documented; it accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gases, more than emissions from cars, trains, and planes combined8. As our population grows, these problems will only get worse.

    Full stop, no need to read more. Envirowhiny livestock-bashing is a signal marker for intellectual incompetence. Nothing the article claims can now be taken at face value.

    Acksiom wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • +1 I wouldn’t go quite that far. There is lots of good info in the post. But I would never contribute to a company that does that kind of livestock bashing. I wish Mark had edited that out or provided a disclaimer about it.

      Harry Mossman wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • What kind of livestock bashing do you see and what kind of disclaimer would be needed?

        I see a few short facts listed about nutritional content and a statement about the negative impact that raising livestock can have on the environment.

        Bev wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • +1

          Stating an unfortunate bit of data does not bashing make.

          Julie wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • There’s a very basic issue of trust at work here. They define your whole viewpoint on those “facts”.

          If you accept the statements about beef production/environment as a true fact, then it’s not bashing. If you are skeptical as to as to how (an unknown) someone came to those numbers and conclusions, as I am, then they are invalid arguments at best.

          Unfortunately, I know too much about math to trust any statistic completely, even if I tend to agree with it. And I do know for sure I’ve never run any cattle ranch. Add to that, I’m totally lousy at predicting the future, especially when involves such a complex system. So I tend to take such sweeping conclusions with a grain of salt.

          In my mind, he didn’t need the whole “save the planet” angle to “sell” cricket bars. For this crowd, especially, eating insects could stand alone as a good idea for nutrition aspects alone.

          Amy wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Its simple. what Gabi said about cattle production is total BS when its done right.

          we finally find a form of agraculture thats totally sustainable, (no external inputs) and actually contributes to, instead of draining the soil. this is an actual directly positive effect on the environment. and now they want to trash it to promote their bugs.

          o0oo

          note, im talking about it done right, full grass pasture. not cafo, not “organic grain finished”. but even with that, your numbers in water are rediculous, and im surprised this somehow slipped past the editor.

          pixel wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • all that said, i still think this is a pretty cool idea.

          pixel wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • There’s a lot of good information everywhere. So much, in fact, that the better you know what you’re doing, the more important best first metrics of approximation become, and the better you can afford to instantly dismiss anything that violates them. If there’s valuable information in there, it’ll show up again eventually from somebody who knows better.

        You have to watch your informational diet too, and reduce the amount of nasty rhetorical sweeteners and additives in it. If your information diet is rich enough, it’s a lot more important to avoid the obvious bad than swallow any crap just to get some possible good.

        And with a nice synchronicity regarding envirowhining, this showed up in my feed just after my original comment (emphasis added):

        “In the face of heated public protest, on July 18, two local agencies in metropolitan San Francisco approved “Plan Bay Area,” a region-wide blueprint designed to control development in the nine-county, 101-town region around San Francisco for the next 30 years.

        ***The creation of a region-wide development plan–although it flies in the face of America’s core democratic commitment to local control–is mandated by California’s SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. The ostensible purpose of this law is to combat global warming through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. That is supposedly why California’s legislature empowered regional planning commissions to override local governments and press development away from suburbs into densely-packed urban areas. In fact, the reduction of greenhouse gases (which Plan Bay Area does little to secure) largely serves as a pretext for undercutting the political and economic independence of California suburbs.***

        Essentially, Plan Bay Area attempts to block the development of any new suburbs, forcing all population growth over the next three decades into the existing “urban footprint” of the region. The plan presses 70-80 percent of all new housing and 66 percent of all business expansion into 150 or so “priority development areas” (PDAs), select neighborhoods near subway stations and other public transportation facilities. This scheme will turn up to a quarter of the region’s existing neighborhoods–many now dotted with San Francisco’s famously picturesque, Victorian-style single-family homes–into mini-Manhattans jammed with high-rises and tiny apartments. The densest PDAs will be many times denser than Manhattan. (See the powerful ten-minute audio-visual assault on Plan Bay Area at the 45-55 minute mark of this debate.)

        In effect, by preventing the development of new suburbs, and reducing traditional single-family home development in existing suburbs, Plan Bay Area will squeeze 30 years worth of in-migrating population into a few small urban enclaves, and force most new businesses into the same tight quarters. The result will be a steep increase in the Bay Area’s already out-of-control housing prices. This will hit the poor and middle class the hardest. While some poor and minority families will receive tiny subsidized apartments in the high-rise PDAs, many others will find themselves displaced by the new development, or priced out of the local housing market altogether.

        A regional plan that blocks traditional suburban development, densifies cities, and urbanizes suburbs on this scale is virtually unprecedented. That’s why the Obama administration awarded the agencies behind Plan Bay Area its second-highest “Sustainable Communities Grant” in 2012. Indeed, the terms of the administration’s grant reinforce the pressure for density. The official rationale behind the federal award is “encouraging connections” between jobs, housing, and transportation.”

        That’s what’s consistently behind envirowhining, including the irrelevant shoehorning of this malthusian crap into any topic they can find, just like here: dominance; control; authoritarianism; exploitation. It’s just another scam.

        Acksiom wrote on July 31st, 2013
  19. Whenever I’m cleaning shrimp, I ask myself why I love them but recoil (rather fiercely) at the thought of eating bugs. I try to reason with my brain, but the “gross” factor is strong! I have tried chocolate covered ants, long ago, & thought they tasted like a cross between raisinettes & smarties, but I can’t say I ever sought them out after that!

    As for sushi, I am crazy about it, but partly because I love nori, ginger, soy sauce (wheat free) & wasabi. Just plain raw fish… meh… definitely not as appealing to my palate. I know that makes me a wimpy American wannabe but I’m sure I’m not alone.

    Our local science museum has a bugfest every year where they feature insect foods, but none of them seem especially healthy– they usually involve candy, baked goods or breaded frying. Still, I took my kids every year when they were small, & they loved the dare-devil quality of eating BUGS!!

    Paleo-curious wrote on July 30th, 2013
  20. I don’t really wish to try insects, but it actually sounds pretty good in a protein bar. Would enjoy trying that.

    Anon wrote on July 30th, 2013
  21. I read an article about people in Africa who regularly ate insects. Interesting, didn’t want to run out and get the bugs/worms but probably would eat it if I was served it at someones house.
    However, it would be interesting to figure out what bugs here in the Pacific Northwest would be worth learning about, which ones to eat, how to fix them….. Other than that we could just have a good group of bugs and feed them to the chickens who would then produce eggs. Removes the ick factor even more.

    2Rae wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Yes, I agree. I used to think “how unfair is the world, some people don’t have anything to eat.”
      But now I think that there is actually food in many places, we just shouldn’t tell people used to eat insects that it is not proper food.
      In fact, we should learn from the local aboriginals which insects/plants are edible. It is much more sustainable.

      Nat wrote on August 1st, 2013
  22. I like the idea. But when I look at the local pet shop where they sell insects as pet food they are all grain fed, raised on rolled oats and flour. Insects are mostly plant eaters, so will feeding them grain influence their health benefits? “Grass-fed” insects will be much harder to raise in great quantities. So I guess it all ends up with the same problems as with other animals.

    Turnstone wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • interesting point.

      haha grassfed crickets…. this is going to give us paleo people the last kick we needed to be officially named crazy zealots.

      Merky wrote on July 30th, 2013
  23. Yeah no. Line in sand and all. Unless it was that or starvation death. :)

    Gwen wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Yeah, if I’m stuck filing taxes each year, insect eating is relegated to the ultimate survival food.

      Amy wrote on July 30th, 2013
  24. To each his own but no. Just no.

    Teresa wrote on July 30th, 2013
  25. The ick factor is too high for me to try. I keep picturing the scene in Indiana Jones where they eat all the weird food and then have to stick their hand in the insect infested wall to get out. Yuck!

    Aimee wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Yes, exactly. I cannot even watch that scene.

      Bev wrote on July 30th, 2013
  26. I attended an “adventurous eaters” dinner at a local restaurant that included ant eggs and coconut caterpillars on the menu. Of course both were fairly disguised – the ant eggs were served in a beignet and the caterpillars were part of a coconut dessert – but the flavors and textures were still prominent. My guess is that people wouldn’t be averse to eating bugs if they didn’t see or squash them every day in their own homes and gardens. If your house was infested by chickens and you had to kill them with a shoe, you’d probably be pretty repulsed at the idea of eating one. ;)

    Mantonat wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • I live in KY where the bugs are big and gross and have tons of legs, don’t even get me started on the spiders. I don’t think I could ever get past the revulsion.

      Bev wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • I live in NC, used to live in TX… very buggy, both, & worse yet, spidery! And I can guarantee one thing– I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be eating a spider. (At least knowingly.)

        Hmm, come to think of it, maybe if you want to eat bugs you should go back to eating processed foods– I remember hearing many horror stories of how many bug parts per pound were legal in such stuff!

        Paleo-curious wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Or just eat more broccoli, aren’t there lots of bugs in fresh from the garden broccoli? Cook it up without soaking in salt water to get them out, added protein. Mmmmmmm.

          2Rae wrote on July 30th, 2013
        • Ha! Totally! I just fished a tiny green caterpillar out of my home-grown arugula salad– maybe I should just close my eyes & eat instead!

          Paleo-curious wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Oh, and they were bamboo caterpillars, not coconut caterpillars. Some Asian markets in the US carry canned bamboo caterpillars if anyone’s interested in seeking some out.

      Mantonat wrote on July 30th, 2013
  27. Cricket Flour?

    I would buy that in a second! I wonder, what does it taste like? Where to buy, where to buy?

    Could I use it instead of almond or coconut flour to make Primal Chicken Parm. or another similar food?

    The idea seems fantastic.

    Then there is the added bonus of putting cricket flour in my daughters food and watching her face after I tell her those primal brownies she’s scarfing down are made from bugs. Just think of all the great memories I could foster with this stuff.

    S. S. wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • This is exactly what I was going to say! I would buy it to cook with LOOOONG before I would consider eating an actual insect whole. Eating a whole insect I’d worry about disease and other ickyness, plus, as much as I love crab and shrimp, I just don’t think I could handle the whole crunch aspect. I guess I’ve taught science too long!

      Cathy wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • Yes yes! I will eat/cook with cricket flour (where can one buy it?), but not eat the bugs whole.

        Consuelo wrote on August 5th, 2013
  28. I like the idea of coconut fried fleas and it could be labeled “Flea Bag”

    BigSwifty wrote on July 30th, 2013
  29. I think the only thing I definitely wouldn’t eat is that maggot cheese I’ve seen. But heck, eating fried crickets or larva (a little salt, a little cayenne, a nice dipping sauce) with a cold beer, and watching a baseball game – beats the heck out of eating popcorn. And hidden in a protein bar would be a great way to eat bugs, even though half the fun would usually come from freaking people out.

    By 2050, though, I think Monsanto will have introduced a GMO cricket. And they still won’t be labeled. Although the idea of pastured crickets is fun. Cage free larva.

    Buggy Bars – it’s what’s for dinner!

    JoanieL wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • GMO Crickets…

      Now there’s a SyFy movie in the making.

      His Dudeness wrote on July 30th, 2013
      • with Monsanto, NOTHING is beyond the realm of possibility.

        Fred Timm wrote on July 30th, 2013
  30. I think I could talk myself into eating a bug, just not sure where to find one that’s safe enough..

    mrfreddy wrote on July 30th, 2013
  31. Check out Chapul. Cricket bars out of Salt Lake City. Also, a great snack I found in Cuernavaca, Mexico: fried crickets with chile lime and salt!

    Colin wrote on July 30th, 2013
  32. Oh, man, I have directed family and friends to visit this website in the past couple days and I dearly hope this is not the top blog post when they do because I will convert no one.

    Jeanne wrote on July 30th, 2013
  33. We’re already eating insects.

    Look at the FDA website to find out how many insect fragments are allowed in our food.

    psl wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • +1! Not to mention rodent feces.

      Heather wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • If it is not in the form that God made it, I do not eat it.
      But ANY bugs NO!!

      Debi wrote on July 30th, 2013
  34. We have a local infamous and awesome convenience store. They have everything, including crispy fried grubs for snacking. I would have gotten them but they were dusted in artificial cheese stuff

    Jake wrote on July 30th, 2013
  35. What a great project! Will support Exo on Kickstarter for sure.

    Quick Q: what is the temperature reached in the slow roasting the crickets? Thanks.

    Jeff wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Thanks!

      The crickets are roasted at 200 degrees.

      Gabi Lewis wrote on July 30th, 2013
  36. My family is from a 3rd world country where pretty much anything goes for food. I never ask what I am being served, I just eat what is placed in front of me. Relatively sure I have eaten several flies while there. You cannot shoo them away fast enough as they are landing on your forkful of food as you are going from plate to mouth.

    Still, I don’t willingly eat insects and don’t intend to as long as there are alternatives.

    Mike L. wrote on July 30th, 2013
  37. I’d be willing to give it a shot and see what its like. Too many of us are short-sighted when it comes to trying new things. Try it once and if you don’t like it then don’t eat it again but you may surprise yourself.

    Besides we all eat bugs anyway. Ever had peanut or almond butter? Not only does it have a certain amount of bugs allowed by the FDA but it also has rat hair and other “Defects”.

    Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 110.110 allows the FDA to establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that you can consume in a given year. Here are some of our favorite foods and their “safe” defects.

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/SanitationTransportation/ucm056174.htm

    Matt wrote on July 30th, 2013
  38. I think that group consciousness plays a large part in what we will eat. Sitting by myself and contemplating a plate of crickets, I doubt that I could force it down. But if I were sitting with a group of people who were calmly popping crickets into their mouths, I think it would overcome my gag reflex. (Backed up by anecdotes I have heard from world travelers.)

    dragonmamma wrote on July 30th, 2013
  39. I would really be interested in finding a U.S. source for 100% cricket powder. Then we could all have fun creating recipes to suit our own nutritional guidelines. Right now there must be thousands of recipes on this website using coconut flour. I can easily imagine the forum swarming with thousands of cricket flour recipes if it were an available ingredient.

    dragonmamma wrote on July 30th, 2013
  40. Great that someone is figuring how to bring insects to the broad market! I would definitely eat insects–the thought doesn’t bug me at all…in fact I almost nabbed a cicada while gardening a few days ago, but got hung up on the question, “what about the legs?” Cook the legs-on, take the legs off for eating? Eat the legs? Too spiny? Wings too? Hey Mark, will there be a Primal Insects Cookbook soon?! ;-)

    Tom B-D wrote on July 30th, 2013
    • Ew, ew, ew – the legs are the creepiest parts! However, I could get behind cricket flour, even if there are legs and wings ground up in it.

      b2curious wrote on July 31st, 2013

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