We’re Playing Hide & Seek With Insects

We’re Playing Hide & Seek With Insects

So… we have this weird proclivity to refer to food as “grub,” but get turned off by the thought of eating a grub. Ironic much?

As the cost of animal protein continues to rise and food and feed insecurity becomes more problematic, we need to get serious about addressing our food choices.

Thankfully, most of the world is already eating insects. From Mexico to Asia, two billion people eat a regular diet of insects. In Western cultures, at least it seems to be a growing trend from groups of people as diverse as bodybuilders and environmentalists.

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Insects, Italian Cuisine, and “Natural Remedies”

Insects, Italian Cuisine, and “Natural Remedies”

And entomophagy continues to collect momentum in the press! The Digital Journal released a nice piece a few days ago titled, “Are insects better than Italian cuisine? Some people think so!” In it, they discussed a valid point: what we consider food is largely influenced by culture. Something completely normal to you may be offensively gross to eat, from another culture’s perspective.

The article looks in particular at the Bozzaotra bros – a duo selling insects as food to a growing Italian market. Most fascinating to me was the brief (but MASSIVELY CLEVER) quip on regulations that the article contained. As some of my readers know, I’ve been fascinated by the development of the regulatory scene around the growing entomophagy field. I’ve written a few articles about theregulation of insects as food – focusing on the barriers they present. *SPOILER ALERT* The Bozzaotra bros, geniuses that they are, passed their insect delicacies off as “natural remedies” in order to bypass the strict government regulations.

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Reinventing Entomophagy for the 21st Century

Reinventing Entomophagy for the 21st Century

I don’t know about you, but it makes me thrilled when I read about entomophagy more and more in popular media sites. The Huffington Post released an article today about reinventing entomophagy for the 21st century, and I couldn’t agree more.

“‘Entomophagy is an evolving term in need of review,” says Afton Marina Szasz Halloran, Ph.D Fellow at the University of Copenhagen. Halloran calls for a change in the way we speak about edible insects and entomophagy.”

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Celebs, Insects, and Juicing – The Start of a Trend?

Celebs, Insects, and Juicing – The Start of  a Trend?

A bit ago the news was been abuzz with Shailene Woodley’s behind-the-scenes video (accompanying her new cover of Nylon magazine) where she predicted that the future of food is insects. She said, “I’ve eaten ants…and June bugs.” It seems that celebrities are getting in on the insect-eating fun.

The other day I came across an Instagram post via Katy Perry where she wrote, “Just celebrating a run of 141 shows with a fun scorpion snack in Bangkok!” … yes, Katy, yes!

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Insects Improve Food Security

Insects Improve Food Security

Meet Sengthong. Whether he knows it or not, he is playing a vital role in improving food security in Laos, a country where over 40% of children are undernourished.

Sengthong explains, “I started to collect when I was 35 years old. No one taught me; I did it myself. At first when I was collecting, I used my own hands. I couldn’t collect a lot so I started using a small plastic bag. I then changed to using a bigger bag, wish which I can collect by swinging it around. I concentrate on collecting insects to sell for my income. Because I otherwise don’t know how I would make money.”

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Regulations Surrounding Entomophagy

Regulations Surrounding Entomophagy

Why We Couldn’t Feed Insectivores Insects & Future FDA Regulations

Jarrod Goldin, one of the founders of Next Millennium Farms, speaks about the incredible entomophagy movement gaining popularity.  Next Millennium farms is leading the protein revolution with a new, environmentally sound method of food production.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing his interview in a Next Millennium Series, taking you on explorations of ento’s relationship to GMOs, FDA regulations, the water crisis and more.

Today, Jarrod discusses regulations surrounding entomophagy from the oddities with restrictions in feeding animals insects and the future of FDA regulations with insects.

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Crickets and the California Water Crisis

Crickets and the California Water Crisis

Why Governments Should Incentivize Insect Farming

Earlier this week, we heard Jarrod’s views on the future of FDA regulations for insects. On the whole, it seems that ento-foods are on the road to being GRAS – generally recognized as safe. But regulation is not the only way the government will (or SHOULD) be involved in the future of insects as food.

Jarrod: On another note, I think that the government can not only regulate these food sources, but also begin to better incentivize food sources that would benefit local economies.

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The Future of Cricket Farming and the REAL Value of Crickets as told by Next Millennium Farms

The Future of Cricket Farming and the REAL Value of Crickets as told by Next Millennium Farms

Earlier this week, we heard Jarrod’s views on how cricket farming might help with the California water crisisCrickets are clearly a more sustainable protein resource than things like red meat or almonds. Today, Jarrod of Next Millennium Farms continues to share what might bring the price of cricket farming down and what the true nutritional value of crickets is:

Aly: I’m wondering if you can speak a bit more about farming practices. As insects grow in popularity, we are going to see more cricket farms emerge. Cricket farming practices are far more efficient than livestock farming from an environmental angle, but from a cost angle there is some room for improvement.

We have only been farming crickets for about 50 years – a blip on the timeline compared to livestock and agriculture.

“We have only been farming crickets for about 50 years – a blip on the timeline compared to livestock and agriculture. “

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The Importance of Spurring Ento-Innovation

The Importance of Spurring Ento-Innovation

Insects have the potential to become an excellent famine-relief product. The thing is, not enough time or effort has been put into insect product practices by today’s entrepreneurs.

[Insect] production practices are just too expensive. Everything from how we farm them to how we render them into a food product can be exponentially improved.”
—Harman Singh Johar

Many, not surprisingly, face a huge mental barrier when faced with the idea of eating insects. Consider it the “ICK-factor.” It’s a huge deal in your mind, until you put a bug in your mouth, start chewing, and think “Eh – it’s kinda good!”

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Why is Insect Farming Slow to Industrialize?

Why is Insect Farming Slow to Industrialize?

Ok, ok… if eating insects is so good for you and is being done in countries all over the world, why haven’t we seen more progress in the industry? Why are crickets still more expensive than other forms of protein?



I spoke with Dr. Aaron T. Dossey President, Founder and Owner of All Things Bugs LLC – a provider of wholesale cricket powder, to find out why.

The livestock and agriculture industries have had thousands of years to innovate and maximize efficiency in production and cost. The insect farming industry, in contrast, has only been around for about 50 years. It is in the best interest of farmers (like Next Millennium Farms), processors (like All Things Bugs), and end product users (like Exo) to start making the insect farming process more efficient. All Things Bugs, for example, is pursuing grants from the USDA and other institutions to improve the economics of cricket farming and introduce higher levels of automation, but this is just the beginning.

Dr.Dossey mentions that even though he is a processor, not a farmer, he has a huge interest in improving the economics of farming. He says, “We are already working with farmers to meet our supply needs. In fact, we bought 20,000 pounds of certified organic feed for a farm we work with because they were too small scale to meet our needs.”

This inefficiency is reflected in the price. “Cricket powders are expensive compared to other protein powders. Several factors contribute to this. Most of this extra cost comes from the cost per cricket. We are behind on scale and automation – a lack of technology. We are feeding and watering them manually.”

Dr. Dossey notes that cricket farmers even lack machines to move the crickets around in the farm like basic chicken farms have. Even if this technology was available, the small scale of current insect farms might make expensive machines cost prohibitive. Scale presents a huge problem with the feed too – farmers are buying such a small amount of feed and do not receive as good of deals as Tyson Chicken would, for example.

Even on the processing end, costs are still high. “Due to a lack of scale, we have large base costs for set up, breakdown and equipment cleaning at contractmanufacturing facilities that are not averaged over large numbers of units. Also, we are not subsidized the way other industries are.” Dossey notes that the insect farming industry has not had over a century to develop like other livestocks, nor is it huge. “We have a long way to catch up. That being said, we only have around a roughly 3-fold price difference compared to whey protein. Given the huge different in development times we are not that far away. And I’ve done the math – we can drop our costs in half, just with an increase in scale!”

Some more seasoned business executives consider the insect industry to be  business run by amateurs, but the field is learning quickly. It’s very motivating and optimistic for the people on the 3 levels of the insect food sector – the farmers, the processors, and the end product (power bars, etc.) creators – to see the changes occurring in the field and in public opinion.

Dr. Dossey’s company sits between the farmer and the end product creator. He, too, is optimistic about the future. When asked about long term goals, he replied, “We are trying to get some main stream company like Cliff Bar, Kashi and others to produce an insect-based product. Whether they use our powder or not, it would be huge for our whole industry. We want to normalize and commoditize insects to improve food, agriculture, and health.”

More about Aaron Dossey: Dr. Aaron T. Dossey is a life-long, self-taught Entomologist and enthusiast of Entomology and nature. The central theme of his research is to capitalize on the chemical and biological diversity which exists among arthropods for a host of applications including drug discovery, identifying new insect repellents and how insects might contribute to a more sustainable human food supply. Dr. Dossey’s research has led to award winning publications as well as speaking engagements at meetings and institutions. His company, All Things Bugs LLC, develops sustainable eco-friendly technologies from insects to improve food security and health. Visit All Things Bugs Here.


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