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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
“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.
It’s with a happy heart and an older soul that I write this particular post. It’s a post of gratitude to my friends and family who gathered around last weekend for some birthday festivities. I asked them not to come bearing gifts, but an open mind instead.
I asked them to try crickets with me for the first time.
The horizon is vast, and the journey will be long, but I’m excited so many edible insect companies are coming along!
Wendy Lu McGill, CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, made a great point during her presentation at Eating Insects Detroit. She mentioned that most of the entomo-enthusiasts in the room had something in common: they were, or are, first to market *mic drop*.
What does it mean to be first to market? The edible insect market is relatively new in our modern industrial timeline. It’s beautiful / cool / exciting / invigorating to be at the precipice of a new industry – to be a part of a community where the rules are still being written! One could also say, however, it’s confusing / stressful / risky / an uphill battle to be at the precipice of a new industry where the rules are still being written. It depends how you look at it.
Class is in session!
The rustling of eager students settling into their seats softened as the lights in the auditorium dimmed. “Let’s set the stage to discuss the U.S. regulation of insect-derived foods,” began Ricardo Carvajal, director at Hyman, Phelps & McNamara. He was about to take us on a journey touching on what is known on the past, current, and possible future of regulatory facts that matter for those of us interested in entomophagy.
It felt like I was in university again… how I wish I could have taken classes about THIS!