How to make insects appetizing to Americans

Cricket flour is made from slow roasted milled Gryllidae, reports Meryl Natow, and the result is a delicious, light brown flour that resembles brown sugar.

My grandfather was in the Air Force for 23 years and fought in three wars. He slid down tarps on the sides of mountains in Greenland, climbed on the wings of planes mid-air to conduct repairs, and always managed to come home not only alive and well, but with gifts for my grandmother.

The most amazing story he has to tell, however, is of his week-long survival mission when he and his fellow Airmen were dropped in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a few lard rations, left to survive on their own in the wilderness for one week. Think Carlton Cuse’s Lost, but with a rescue crew after seven days.

At the end of the week, a week during which the aim of the game is to lose the least amount of weight, Harry Natow gained. How? It’s simple. In addition to picking up some of the discarded lard his buds were too disgusted to eat, my grandfather ate insects.

When I founded Six Foods with my two Harvard friends Rose Wang and Laura D’Asaro, I wasn’t thinking about my familial history with entomaphagy. I had eaten some insects on a dare made by my 10th grade Chemistry teacher and survived, so the concept wasn’t all that unfamiliar. And Rose and Laura weren’t too squeamish, either.

The challenge with Six Foods is to convince the rest of America that eating insects is the best thing since sliced bread. When you look at the facts, it’s really a no-brainer: the livestock industry produces 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all forms of transportation combined, but insects produce just 1% as many greenhouse gas emissions as cows. Raising insects requires far less land, feed, and water than raising livestock, and furthermore, insects don’t feel pain since they don’t have pain receptors (so you can feel less bad the next time one dies from flying into your face as you bike to work).

But for the most part, these facts aren’t enough to convince the average American to put down the bag of thinly sliced and salted genetically-modified potatoes and pick up some sautéed crickets. We needed to create a snack that is both delicious and nutritious, something that provides consumers with a reason to keep eating besides a moral obligation. Our cricket chips, or Chirps, are just that snack. On April 22 (Earth Day), we launched our Kickstarter campaign for our Chirps and in just three days have reached our $30,000 goal. The rapid success of our campaign has provided us with the confidence to further our company and the encouragement to dream bigger: we are working out the details of our stretch goal, so keep the support coming!

Thank you to everyone who has already backed our project and helped us bring bugs to the dinner table!

Published 4:45 pm Wed, Apr 30, 2014

About the Author

Meryl Natow is the co-founder of Six Foods, a graduate of Harvard, and an MFA candidate at SVA in Design for Social Innovation. She loves good jokes and bad jokes and can be reached for comments or questions at meryl.natow@gmail.com

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