Bug Bites – Are Insects the New Sushi? (Response)

Bug Bites – Are Insects the New Sushi? (Response)

Co-authored by: Mackenzie Wade

Author Maija Palmer shared a thoughtful piece on Sifted exploring whether edible insects are “tasty and cheap enough” to go mainstream. Titled  “Bug Bites: Are Insects the New Sushi?”, the piece raises some common questions about the future of the space. I wanted to take a moment to comment briefly on some of the critiques brought up in the piece: 

“Urgh. I can’t. I’d have to close my eyes,” says a woman inching backwards from bowl of pasta topped with mealworms.”

The article puts a strong emphasis on the ‘yuck factor.’ As an industry, we are trying to redirect the narrative towards a ‘wow factor.’ As with sushi, lobster, and even tomatoes in the past, one of the biggest challenges faced by the entomophagy industry is overcoming what some call the “ick factor” or “yuck factor.” This refers to the current stigma around bugs – the reputation they have for being scary or unclean. 

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The Power to Pester: Why Kids Are Key to Edible Bug Acceptance

The Power to Pester: Why Kids Are Key to Edible Bug Acceptance

Kids will be the most effective ambassadors for the edible insect industry. If we can convince them that eating bugs is healthy, sustainable, tasty, and COOL, then they will compel their parents to make product purchases and the industry to meet demand in kind. If marketers know that kids crave these delicious critters, it bodes well for the entire edible insect industry. And what happens to kids when they stop being kids? They become insect-eating adults, influencing their future families and peers with their minds and wallets.

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Edible Insect Trade Group Advocates Support for Insect Agriculture – NACIA Responds to efforts by Senators Flake and Cortez Masto to Prohibit USDA Subsidies for Insect Agriculture

Edible Insect Trade Group Advocates Support for Insect Agriculture – NACIA Responds to efforts by Senators Flake and Cortez Masto to Prohibit USDA Subsidies for Insect Agriculture

The North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA) responds to efforts by Senators Flake and Cortez Masto to prohibit USDA subsidies for Insect Agriculture

December 17, 2018:

Global interest in Insects as Food and Feed was sparked by the 2013 release of a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO): Edible Insects – Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. Concerns about feeding a rapidly growing worldwide population (estimated to reach 9 billion or higher by 2050 from 7.5 billion today) led to problem-solving around increasing food production in an environment of ever-increasing scarcity.

After a failed attempt to add an amendment to the Farm Bill earlier this year that sought to ban research funding for insect agriculture and insect-based foods, Senator Flake (R-AZ) has now teamed up with Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV) in a renewed effort to frame ongoing research supporting insect farming as “wasteful.” Their proposed legislation (Removing Excessive Dollars to Uproot and Cut Expensive (REDUCE) Government Waste Act) is heavy on puns but light on facts concerning insects.

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Many innovations are misunderstood in their infancy until the scales tip to wider acceptance. In many parts of the world, insects as food and feed are well established. Research shows that insects have been an important part of the human diet for millennia, and remain a protein-rich food staple for billions of people today.Nearby, in Mexico, there are more than 549 known species of insects which are eaten, and comida prehispanica is once again trending.  One of the most well-known is the chapuline, a type of tasty grasshopper which holds deep cultural culinary importance.

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Today, insects as a source of protein for food and feed is a growing industry with over 250 companies worldwide. The insects as feed industry alone was estimated to be worth $900 million in 2016 and is forecast to reach $1.5 billion by 2022 (Mordor Intelligence, 2017). The edible insects market is expected to reach nearly $1.2 billion by 2023, supported by a CAGR of 23.8% per a recent Research and Markets report. There is an explosion of growth in this industry globally and the U.S. lags behind. “The insect agriculture industry has grown tremendously in only a few short years – creating jobs, starting American businesses, and fueling economic growth. All signs point to that growth not only continuing, but accelerating. We would welcome the opportunity to show Senators Cortez Masto and Flake how this new agricultural sector could benefit not just the small business owners and farmers already active across 27 states, but their constituents in Nevada and Arizona as well,” said Robert Nathan Allen, NACIA President.

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Eating Insects Athens 2018 – A Recap of Industry Growth

Eating Insects Athens 2018 – A Recap of Industry Growth

Eating Insects Athens was [insert superlatives here] beautiful. Thank you to everyone who participated in Eating Insects Athens, and to those of you that couldn’t make it but have been a part of my bug family still. I hope you enjoy this little blog post. If you don’t feel like reading, you can check out my recap video here: 

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The International Culinary Center To Host First Cooking with Bugs Class + Why This Is Important!

The International Culinary Center To Host First Cooking with Bugs Class + Why This Is Important!

Getting more chefs involved will be critical to the public’s education around and acceptance of bugs as ingredients. With over 2000 edible insect flavors to explore, chefs have a relatively untouched treasure chest of ingredients to explore, each with unique, complex flavor profiles. 

Chefs are the Gate Keepers of consumer preference and continue to expand our cuisines with innovative concepts and casual, eclectic menus. It’s not uncommon for one chef alone to drive a vibrant micro food culture in a city, thus expanding appreciation for new foods and dishes that impact customers’ attitudes nationwide.

According to Menus of Change, the past two years have been dominated by vegetable-focused menus, resulting in a “normalization” of vegetable dishes as fully belonging on acclaimed menus and as “vehicles for culinary creativity.” It is my goal to see a similar trend with bugs. It will be key for chefs to champion our efforts to gain consumer acceptance of bugs as ingredients.

For these reasons, I’m elated to announce words my mother never thought she would hear: I’ll be partnering with the International Culinary Center (ICC) for a class titled “How & Why We Eat Bugs.” The class will include a guided tasting and is open to the public on Monday, August 27, 2018, from 3:00 – 5:00 pm at the Campbell, CA campus.

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Bug News – Little Herds Announces Pitch Challenge Ento-Prize

Bug News – Little Herds Announces Pitch Challenge Ento-Prize

It seems the big bugs news just keeps getting better! I’m excited to share this announcement with Bugible readers:

[PRESS RELEASE July 13, 2018] – Austin, TX – Little Herds, the Austin-based entomophagy (bug-eating) education nonprofit, will launch Ento-Prize, a pitch challenge for entrepreneurs with insect-driven ideas, announced founder and Director Robert Nathan Allen today.  Winners will receive industry-specific mentorship, specialized services and a to-be-determined amount of prize money to help fund their idea.

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Bringing Cricket Flour to the Public – Seek Food Kickstarter Makes News

Bringing Cricket Flour to the Public – Seek Food Kickstarter Makes News

Woo hoo – the edible insect world just took a major step forward today!

Check out Seek Food’s new Kickstarter campaign. They are working with an insanely talented team of award-winning chefs to launch a line of baking flours targeted to specific dietary needs and an accompanying world-class cookbook. Over the past year, they’ve learned a ton about how chefs, bakers, and customers everywhere incorporate bugs into their diets. Now they’re putting that research to use:

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How to Promote Food Brands with Influencers

How to Promote Food Brands with Influencers

Influencer marketing. You see it all the time – the Instagram models with #ad in their caption, pushing the cute jeans they’re wearing or the blue gummy hair vitamins. If you’re unfamiliar with this trend, you need to crawl out from under your rock, hop on any of the major social media platforms, and take a gander at the advertising age of branded content. It makes sense – YouTube or Instagram influencers have a lot of market power, as they are more relatable than traditional celebrities and have very loyal fan bases. And, most importantly, many reach most brand’s ideal market: the elusive millennial.  

Why Influencers and Content Creators Matter (Even to Bug Companies)

These influencers are, well, quite influential. And it’s not just products they are promoting – it’s a restaurant, an experience, a vacation destination, a way of living, and more. I’m particularly interested in the trend of influencers promoting ideas. Sometimes they start trends, and other times they are the spark that catalyzes a movement into the limelight. Whereas we are accustomed to tuning out traditional advertising, influencer campaigns have not just the “views” or “impressions” required to make an impact, but they also command the genuine attention of their fans.

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Lookout Landlords and Regulators – Insect Businesses Set to Grow.

Lookout Landlords and Regulators – Insect Businesses Set to Grow.

“Try finding a landlord that lets you raise 5 million crickets in his building…” I hear a soft chuckle on the other end of the line. “Yeah – we’re excited to expand but there’s a lot to consider!”

I’m speaking with James Williams, owner of Crunchy Critter Farms. Williams, along with Sean Schultz, Brian Battle, Elliott Blair, and Alex Schneider started Crunchy Critter Farms in 2016 to raise wholesale quantities of crickets for human consumption.

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