The Last Man on Earth: Crickets and the Media

Cricket casserole… I thought it would be at least another few years before I saw dishes like that making appearances in popular shows like The Last Man on Earth (a Fox Comedy). But, alas, the episode aptly named “Crickets” (S2, Ep5) aired on October 25th. What went down?

Last week ended with Todd happily entering a house and declaring, “Daddy’s home.” Turns out that house runs on solar panels and, therefore, still has a running fridge — and said fridge still has packages and packages of bacon inside. Now it all makes sense why Todd was keeping this house a secret from the rest of the group.
Tandy — now a free man after his seemingly never-ending rotation of punishments — does some investigating and finds the bacon, then confronts Todd about it. The bacon discovery is a big deal for multiple reasons, one of them being that Carol has now resorted to serving everyone crickets since they’re running out of food.
Unsurprisingly, no one is exactly hankering for crickets (although cricket casserole does seem slightly more appetizing than Carol’s previous specialty, raisin balls). Phil eats them, but that’s just because Phil wants to get in Carol’s bedazzled pants. Tandy even tries to eat them and puts on a semi-happy face, earning some good husband points, but he can only pretend for so long. And now there’s bacon. Actual meat! Plenty of actual meat! (recap from EW).

The Last Man on Earth
Source: Fox

Crickets are being used as food on mainstream media! YES! Yes? …no. When I first heard of this development, I was thrilled. After watching the clips, less so. In a past interview with Exo founder Greg Sewitz, he notes that while celebrity endorsement could be helpful in increasing demand for edible insect products and getting the word out, we run the risk that insects become a novelty, fear-factory item rather than a legit food source. The depiction of crickets here reminded me of the horror & terror that accompanied the revelation that humans were being feed insects in Snowpiercer. 

The fun doesn’t stop there. Reviews from recap sites were less than favorable as well. Sites like Vulture wrote, “…it seems the Malibu bungalow has run out of viable sources of protein, and she’s quick to whip up a cricket casserole for her companions. (I’m pretty upset that we were deprived of a slapstick-y scene showing Carol hunting the buggers down.) Of course, this delicacy tastes about as good as it sounds, which is to say terrible. Seriously, raisinballs probably go down easier; at least they don’t run the risk of staying alive.”

The cast, in a clip hosted on Fox’s site, states, “We actually ate some crickets… and it tasted like really old cardboard.” While some of the cast said, “They were not bad.” The combination of music, imagery, and hot-girl recommendations left us with the message: crickets are nasty.

Last Man On Earth
Source: Fox

Conan even took a minute to interview Kristen Schaal about the trials and tribulations of eating real crickets. In the interview, Schaal reveals that she’ll “…put anything in [her] mouth for a laugh.” However, after eating a few crickets she saw that he costar had some delicious, fake crickets to eat (made, apparently, from dates) and was taken aback that she was made to eat 50 real crickets. 

But wait…(you may sympathetically think)… let’s give these poor folk a break. After all, this is a new, intimidating behavior for some!

Yes, yes, dear sympathetic reader’s brain, this is true. Schaal even brings in some crickets and says they’re really good! Conan, however, bellows “NOOOOOO.” As members of the crew try the critters, the audience squeals. This fear-factor showing is only exacerbated when Schaal mentions that the tricky part is feeling the crickets’ antenna’s and legs as they slide down her throat. Later we hear, “I just pulled an antenna off my tongue… like a pube.” Reallllll appetizing. 

Source: Conan

With these depictions of entomophagy, our community took two steps forward and two steps back, I was excited about the prospect of our niche community’s world expanding, but the presentation of these crickets was much less than appetizing. It’s a good start, but we’ll have to do better. Why does this matter?

Food is not an unlimited resource. The average American eats over 70lbs of red meat each year. The meat industry is super unsustainable. The agricultural sector accounts for roughly 18% of all greenhouse gases – that’s more than the entire transportation sector combined! Each pound of edible bee takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce…woah!

Insects, on the other hand, are extremely resource-efficient, requiring 12X less feed than cows to create the same amount of protein, releasing 80X less methane, and requiring less water and land to raise. It takes only ONE gallon of water to make one pound of edible cricket protein.

Crickets are about 65% protein – and the best kind, with all the essential amino acids. They have a ton of micronutrients like calcium, iron (2.2x the iron of spinach!), and B-vitamins. Insects are a superfood.

Over 80% of the world already consumes insects. It will be an interesting ride for the US to catch on. Need more convincing? Check out 15 Reasons Why People Who Eat Insects are Saving the World and Themselves.

So Conan – please consider having some members of the ento community on your show to spread the word about the delights of insect eating.

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