Aversion to crickets? No longer!
In the fall, insects hurry indoors prolonging their existence each day despite colder temperatures. This is the apex of how we know them in their identity as pests, (unless you are a farmer).
It is October, and I welcome the cold air to alleviate my kitchen of the common house fly and fruit flies that seem to be enjoying my fruit bowl and window sills. I, myself am buzzing about the kitchen trying to prepare breakfast for my young son who is three, when I look over to see him smash a fruit fly and without a blink consume it as food.
For a brief instant I am shocked, and then the frontal lobe kicked in and the conscious scientist in me realizes that I have been successful. Sure…he probably needs a little more training on when and which type of insects we should consume for human nutrition, but the common aversion to insect protein failed to grab hold of his consciousness. Children don’t have social norms, we as parents are busy forming them each day.
When we talk about food systems that can both regenerate and mend the damage we have incurred over the last hundred years and feed billions of people simultaneously, we ought to chat about how we are forming future minds. The power of parenting has everything to do with shaping the future generation’s position on what is normal and enjoyable to eat. The most powerful and transformative truth is that we can overcome aversion by simply normalizing actions in our parenting technique. A more obvious truth is that each moment a child is born ready to tackle the previous generation’s follies with ingenious solutions. It is up to parents to put their food systems baggage aside in forming healthy habits for the upcoming generations.
I never taught my kiddo to resent insects. We talk about how everything is connected and each organism is a part of the greater whole. Everything exists because it has a place and a function. My line of work is unique and my business Orchestra Provisions focuses on product development using cricket protein, so it has made it easy to incorporate insect nutrition into a young child’s diet. I have yet to observe a scoff, cringe, nose crinkle or otherwise. What I see is a thriving, too smart for his own good healthy toddler, vibrating at insane frequencies ready to take on the world. What my experience has proven is that overcoming aversion isn’t as hard as everyone is making it out to be, especially if the wager is food security and a healthy planet.
Maybe some people think this is strange…"is she really feeding her kid crickets”? Yes I am, just like 2.5 billion people world-wide. I have previously written about the benefits of insects in the diet of growing young people, and there is plenty of information out there explaining this developing food system. I would like to focus on the viability of this food staple and the main obstacle between insect protein and traction in the mainstream, I think it is twofold:
- Perceived aversion. The more we talk about this the more we give it power.
I think about this all of the time. The fuel for this blog post was the most recent episode of the Dave Chang Show podcast that my cousin sent one morning. Thank goodness the fine people over there are talking about feeding billions of people with limited resources. However, their words were harmful to an incredibly vibrant industry with limitless potential- to do just that, feed the world and do it efficiently. The podcast renounced insect protein as smart, but disgusting and not worth talking about in its own episode. Dave Chang said something to this affect:
"I don’t want to eat bugs. I would if I had to, but I don’t want to do it by choice."
For this reason, it was unworthy as a topic of discussion any further. I think many people live in this vein when it comes to eating insects. Basically, we acknowledge this is smart and maybe even inevitable, but we just don’t want to eat insects…And I, of all people, understand. When I started Orchestra Provisions, I was one of these folks. I had researched how smart it was for us to eat bugs in graduate school, I ordered every insect available in the human food market to a western consumer, and they sat in the pantry for way too long. I knew I should eat them, but I didn’t want to eat them. This is how Orchestra was started. I realized that if I was the nerdy scientist that wanted everyone to eat bugs, how on earth was I supposed to do that if I couldn’t bring myself to eat them?
Here is where Dave Chang falls short and Orchestra shines- We don’t have to experience the insects, we can fold them in as ingredients and this fits our current food systems formula. How many ingredients can you pronounce in most of the foods you find at the market today? Even if you are an educated consumer with healthy focus, one of these processed foods will end up in your cabinet with unpronounceable additives. Wouldn’t it be nice if one of those was a damn superfood that can save the planet from hunger and environmental demise? Our products at Orchestra do just this, we are normalizing entomophagy with a gentle approach that provides products where cricket powder is an ingredient, but it isn’t noticeable.
It is easy for people to shove insect protein aside for shiny things like seaweed, lab meats, and who knows what else, but the truth is that it will take all of these solutions, and then some to tackle the problems we are faced with. And those problems? I’d rather combat them with solutions then to add another layer of stress to the rampant adrenal fatigue we are all experiencing.
- Heinous images in media coverage.
I have read so many articles in the mainstream media about the future of food and entomophagy/insects as food in the past three years. They are each passionately written by people who know what they are talking about. Energy goes into these publications with intent for impact. They normally have this trajectory-
The WHO and CDC are projecting 10 billion humans by 2050, UN and FAO believe we can feed them all with insect protein. There are a lot of options as far as diversity, but if we talk about crickets we find that they have a whole bunch more protein than beef, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach. On top of this they require a fraction of the arable land, water and feed as other competing protein sources.
OK GREAT, EVERYONE IS ON BOARD! No…because they did one simple thing wrong, and as my dad in marketing reminds me, it could be the only way it was even passed as an includable story in the first place. What makes this story sexy and appealing to the reader? The image that preludes the story. The headline is always accompanied by the worst, most unappetizing image of someone eating a whole bug, or macro-photo of a live grasshopper staring you in the eyes. I am sorry, but I want nothing to do with that on my plate. These images do great harm to the industry, and I don’t want these pictures resembling my dining experience.
My conclusion and experience is that when people try Orchestra Provisions products, they buy them again and again. Our products are wonderful, thoughtful, easy to use, healthy, and support the most sustainable and regenerative forms of agriculture. This is three years of business, research and development and statistical proof that people will eat the dang things if you grind them up, fold them in and make them delicious. We give YOU the power to confront global hunger and combat environmental demise at your own table.
If you read to this point in the blog, I hope I gave your brain some food, now let us feed your family too: