That Little Extra Protein You’ve Been Craving

Photo credit to Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit to Wikimedia Commons

By Shannon Kelleher
BU News Service

The first and last time I ate a bug intentionally I was ten. My family and I were at COSI, a science center in Columbus, Ohio for kids and lifelong nerds that’s essentially the lovechild of a museum and a playground. The gift shop at COSI is a repository for fun little nerd toys ranging from flubber to astronaut ice cream.  But did my brother want any of that? No. He wanted chocolate covered worms. Naturally I had to try them. They tasted a bit off: basically an unidentifiable crunchiness concealed in milk chocolate. After that I was through with consuming the creepy-crawlies.

But apparently some people are not.

According to cnbc.com, there’s actually a growing market for foods made from the very things that cause me, for one, to scream when I find them on my bedroom floor. Curiously, I don’t have that reaction when I see a cow or a chicken, two other sources of protein in my diet. Then again, cows and chickens have a million appendages or make gross scuttling sounds when they move.

Nonetheless, companies like Six Foods are in business, making chips from beans, rice, and cricket flour. They call these chips “chirps”, which is admittedly almost cute, but still….

Of course, the environmentalist in me perked up when I read that crickets are not only packed with protein (about 1.5 times as much per gram of beef), they are also a very Earth-friendly form of sustenance. Aside from the fact that factory farms are cruel (have you SEEN the documentary Earthlings??), they also use a tremendous amount of energy.  Every pound of beef we consume requires a gallon of gasoline to produce. And more CO2 is not what our atmosphere needs right now.

Are insect entrees the secret to saving the planet? I’ll admit I’m skeptical. While companies sporting foods with buggy ingredients are developing a small but present niche in the American economy, they’re still far from mainstream. It may take a while to acclimate the average American family to the idea of chowing down on a nice hot cricket casserole instead of Sloppy Joes.

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Posted by: Shannon Kelleher on