The Case for Eating Bugs
  • February 21, 2019
  • “That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.” – Anthony Bourdain

    eating bugs

    My fascination with eating insects was sparked by fortuitous circumstance: I was reading a viral Twitter thread about a lizard owner who accidentally (and hilariously) let hundreds of live crickets loose in his home. As one does during episodes of insomnia, I started researching all things crickets: cricket storage, cricket transport, cricket farms… my curiosity was insatiable! This late-night rabbit hole eventually revealed to me an underground world (at least to me) of eating bugs. Obviously, I HAD to know more.

    First, I discovered that eating bugs is not an exotic concept at all: over 2 billion people around the world dine on insects regularly. They are an excellent source of protein and can be downright delicious. If you’ve journeyed to Mexico, for example, you may have found edible insects on the menu, including crunchy, salty, spicy fried grasshoppers (or chapulin).

    In a world where the human population is on the rise, and natural resources are in decline, eating insects is also lauded as a sustainable alternative to eating meat. The math checks out:  producing one pound of beef requires 1,845 gallons of water versus the 120 gallons of water needed to produce one pound of crickets. (Think about how many guiltless long showers you can take with those savings!)

    Crickets also require significantly less feed and land, and emit far fewer greenhouse gasses than cows, pigs and chickens, while providing 280 percent more protein than beef, 140 percent of your daily value of select Vitamin Bs and 15 percent of your daily value of calcium for every 100 gram serving.

    While I consider myself to be a licensed adventure-seeker and fear-facer, to be honest, the thought of eating insects (with their buggy eyes and stringy legs) gave me a serious case of weebie jeebies. But, if eating bugs will help the planet and rescue more happy cows, intelligent pigs and inquisitive chickens from a life of captivity and cruelty, then sign me up! I decided a gradual easing into bug-eating (as opposed to a sudden plunge) would be best for me, so I found the most aesthetically packaged, least intimidating edible insect brand available: Seek Food.

    seek food

    I loved this passage on Seek’s website: “Seek is not just about food, it is a way of thinking that transcends beyond the boundaries of simply everyday snacks. It is a path forward to live with respect and curiosity for the natural world. It is about understanding and upholding this way of life that has sustained us for thousands of years. It is about looking at the crossroads we are at and choosing the real over the unreal, nature over chemicals, kitchens over laboratories, and joy over fear.” I ordered a sampler pack of cricket-based snack bites and granola packets and solicited my fellow aSweatLifers for a group taste-testing. The verdict? Delicious!

    We were so enamored with our experience, we decided to reach out to Seek Food co-founder and CEO, Robyn Shapiro, to learn more about her company and food philosophy.

    “My food philosophy involves applying common sense to what we eat. If it is natural and fresh, those are the things that are usually good for you,” Shapiro told us. “Our mission is to serve people the most delicious, nutritious and sustainable food, and it just happens that crickets rank at the top for these three categories. We are at a time of unprecedented environmental, health and hunger issues and populations are on the rise. Food and agriculture is a major contributor to these problems, and crickets and other insects have the ability to solve these issues unlike any other food.”

    As if running one company wasn’t challenging enough, Shapiro also co-founded 42 Birds, a sustainable design-driven line of cork-based yoga products, including mats, blocks and massage balls. Cork is fully sustainable with 0 percent waste product, and using cork actually helps to protect vulnerable forests.

    So what advice would Shapiro give to someone embarking on their bug-eating journey? “Well, to just start, and ideally with Seek 🙂 We are trying to give people a positive first insect-eating experience so that the next time they are more comfortable, until soon the idea of eating crickets becomes normalized.” That was definitely true for the aSweatLife team. Once we had snack bites and granola behind us, we were ready to take the next step forward: eating whole bugs.

    We ordered a quarter pound of whole roasted crickets from Aspire Food Group. While some of us took them on as if drawing blood (covering our eyes and just getting it over with), others had no problem popping them like Cheetos and even eating mouthfuls at a time (also, like Cheetos). As with all things in life that seem scary at first: once you confront it, the fear diminishes, and what takes its place is wonderment, discovery and delight.

    If you’re ready for your first bug-eating foray, Seek Food has an entire cookbook of incredible cricket-flour based recipes. Its ‘Charred Cauliflower Cricket Hummus’ recipe below by Gabe Kennedy is a must-try!

    Charred Cauliflower Cricket Hummus

    Ingredients:

    • Roasted cauliflower:
      • 1 head of cauliflower, cut to florets
      • 2/3 cup olive oil
    • Dip:
      • 3 Tablespoons tahini
      • 3 Tablespoons and 1 teaspoon lemon juice
      • 2 lemons to zest
      • 1/3 cup water
      • 2 tablespoons Seek Protein Powder
    • Garnish:
      • Cricket powder
      • Sesame and pumpkin seeds
      • Red onion, sliced
      • Dill
      • Lemon
      • Olive oil

    Instructions:

    1. In a deep baking sheet, toss cauliflower and olive oil. Cook at 350°F until very soft. The top layer of the cauliflower should have some nice color.
    2. Remove from heat and add the all dip ingredients to the cauliflower and stir to combine.
    3. In a blender, add the cauliflower mixture and blend till smooth. Keeps in the fridge for a week.

    To plate:

    1. Dollop a heaping spoonful and spread into circle, leaving a divot in the center.
    2. Sprinkle with the seeds, sliced onion, dill and Seek Protein Powder to dust. Finish with lemon and olive oil.
    3. Serve with vegetables or grilled bread.

     

    About Kathy Lai

    Kathy is an entrepreneur, freelancer and recovering investment banker. She recently left a 10-year career in Finance, which spanned positions at JPMorgan, Blackstone and Lincoln International, to pursue a life of greater purpose. Kathy is a fanatic animal lover, a proud mom to Luke Skywalker (who was born cat but identifies as dog) and a former intern at the Farm Sanctuary. She also serves as a member of the Midwest Regional Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys party planning, cooking, traveling, going to Paper Source and working out. Kathy does not enjoy injustice, heights and sharks (although she respects their place in a healthy ecosystem). She earned a BA in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

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