Bugs are crawling into supermarkets, smoothies and snacks. Don't worry, it's not an infestation—edible insects have been invited to this picnic.
Many of us became aware of the benefits of eating bugs when crickets impressed Shark Tank investors in 2017. These benefits include nutritious protein for our bodies and relief for the planet’s natural resources.
Entomophagy—the practice of eating bugs—is practiced by 80% of the world’s nations. Thanks to growing interest in insect protein, this number is increasing. To feed the masses there has to be production, which has led to the rise of the ento-industry.
The Ento-Industry Marches In
Just as with any agricultural product, insects are farmed, processed and transported. Entocycle is one example of an insect farm. They focus on producing insects for fish and animal feed. Companies like Protifarm are pioneering research and development of insect protein for humans and animals. According to Meticulous Research™, the ento-industry is expected to grow more than 23% between 2018 and 2023.
The Bottom-Up Approach to Eating Bugs
“The perfect protein” is how the Chirps website describes cricket protein. Chirps produces crickets into chips, powders and cookies, honoring the fact that people are comfortable eating something new if it feels familiar. This is the bottom-up approach to entering the food chain. Other companies following their lead include Eat Grub, Jimini’s and Ento.
Edible Bugs From the Top-Down
Still not sold on eating bugs? Chefs and influencers could change your mind. Emphasizing the trendiness of eating insects and normalizing them is the top-down approach. Exposure through restaurants is how sushi gained popularity in the United States. Even though the idea still makes some people squirm, you can likely find bugs on the menu at a restaurant near you.
Get Some Grub, Any Grub
Edible insects are hot and ready, but it’s perfectly fine if you’re never going to be comfortable being an entomophagist (someone who eats bugs). The ento-industry is only one link in the chain that will secure a sustainable future for food. Besides, you can always consider a sustainably sourced plant-based diet or lab-grown meat to nourish your body and save the planet.
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