New York City Food Policy Center: Bugs Feeding the World: 12 Companies Selling Edible Insects

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From the New York City Food Policy Center by Lani Furbank:

“Around the globe, at least 2 billion people eat bugs, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. However, most of the Western world regards eating insects with reluctance or even disgust. This seemingly arbitrary cultural view has been preventing research surrounding insect agriculture, until recent years.

In 2013, the U.N. FAO issued a report examining the valuable role of edible insects in solving food system issues like food security, human health, and environmental sustainability.

The report states that insects generally provide high levels of fat, protein, vitamins, fiber, and minerals, though exact values vary based on species. This makes them a highly nutritious and healthy food source for humans. In addition, they can serve as an effective source of feed for livestock in an era when demands for feed production are increasing rapidly.

Raising insects for consumption is environmentally beneficial because of their high efficiency. The report states that crickets only require 2 kilograms of feed for every 1 kilogram of body weight gain, as opposed to an average of 5.8 kilograms of feed per kilogram of body weight gain for common Western livestock. Insects also emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia, and require less land and water than other species of livestock.

When the U.N. report was released, it spurred worldwide interest in insect agriculture and insect protein, and now there are numerous companies and businesses capitalizing on the edible insect market.

All Things Bugs, founded by Dr. Aaron T. Dossey in 2011 was one of the first to delve into the field. Dr. Dossey was consulted for the U.N. FAO report and he recently published a book, Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients, about the commercial industry and scientific research surrounding edible insects. His company has over $1.3 million in research funding to develop sustainable insect-based technologies and products for agriculture, food production, and medicine.

“Utilizing insects as a protein source, for nutrition and for other applications just makes sense,” Dr. Dossey explains. “Insects make up the largest and most diverse group of organisms on earth, with over 2,000 identified species as eaten around the world, 1 million named species, and 4-30 million species estimated on earth. They are highly prolific, efficient to produce, and have rapid growth rates. They can be produced in small and modular spaces, making them ideal for urban and vertical farming, even farming in space exploration and colonization missions.”

Another pioneer in the field of edible insects is Entomo Farms, founded in 2014. They also supply insects to many of the companies that produce insect food products today. Jarrod Goldin, president of Entomo, is excited about another, less explored benefit of insect consumption. “Although for the most part, it was food security and the amazing sustainability story that propelled the insect food platform, clinical, nutritional, and health benefits are starting to emerge as the next chapter. Studies have shown better iron concentration and absorption versus beef, as well as better clinical outcomes when insects are added to the diets of post operative hospital patients,” he says. “We are excited to be launching some major initiatives to study many possible health benefits from reducing heart disease to positively effecting diabetes and obesity.”

Alongside All Things Bugs and Entomo Farms, there are several other companies that are working to bring edible insects into mainstream culture. Here are 12 businesses to check out:

Bitty

Mission: “It’s simple: We make delicious foods with cricket flour. Cricket flour is a tasty source of sustainable nutrition, packed with protein, healthy fats and micronutrients. We start with sustainably raised crickets, which are slow roasted to bring out their nutty, toasted flavor. Then we mill them into a fine flour that becomes the basis of our delicious, high-protein baked goods and baking mixes.”

Category: Producer

Products: Multiple flavors of Trills cricket flour cookies and Chiridos puffed cricket flour snack chips, as well as cricket baking flour.

Location: San Francisco, California

Founders: Leslie Ziegler and Megan Miller

Date Founded: February 2014

Where to find their products: Their online store, as well as select health food and grocery stores around the country.

Price range: $1.29-$19.99


Chapul

Mission: “Chapul introduces edible insects into Western Cuisine as a healthy and sustainable protein. We launched the the first insect-protein product in the U.S. with our award winning Chapul Cricket Bars, fortified with our signature cricket flour. We represent a growing food revolution intent on increasing the health of our food resources for our children and for the planet.”

Category: Producer

Products: Various flavors of cricket protein bars, cricket baking flour, and cricket protein powder.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founders: Pat Crowley and Dan O’Neill

Date Founded: February 2012

Where to find their products: Their online store, and select health food, grocery stores, and outdoor recreation stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Price range: $3-$39


Chirps Chips

Mission: “To bring insect eating mainstream”

Category: Producer

Products: Chirps cricket chips and cookie mix.

Location: San Francisco, California

Founders: Laura D’Asaro, Rose Wang, and Meryl Natow

Date Founded: December 2013

Where to find their products: Their online store, as well as natural food stores, zoos, aquariums, and 73 airport terminals at Cibo Express.

Price range: $5.99-$15.99


Cricket Flours

Mission: “Cricket Flours LLC was founded in 2014 to provide an environmentally friendly and sustainable source of protein and nutrition. Each of our cricket flour, roasted crickets, and cricket protein powder products provides enhanced protein and nutrition that are less processed than competing protein sources.”

Category: Producer

Products: A variety of cricket products, including flours, protein powders, roasted and flavored crickets, and brownie mix.

Location: Portland, Oregon

Founder: Charles B. Wilson

Date Founded: 2014

Where to find their products: Their online store, Amazon, and through their retail and museum partners nationwide.

Price range: $3-$40


Crunchy Critters

Mission: “To challenge the Western mindset towards the eating of insects and to raise awareness of entomophagy in the interest of future food security.”

Category: Producer and Retailer

Products: A variety of edible insects including ants, crickets, scorpions, tarantulas, locusts, mealworms, and more.

Location: Derby, England

Founder: Nick Cooper

Date Founded: 2012

Where to find their products: Their online store.

Price range: £3.49-£45.49


Entomo Farms

Mission: “To make an important contribution in the feeding of an estimated world population of 9 billion people in 2050. To establish a new paradigm of perception and desirability as we motivate people across the globe to consume insect protein. To create a global awareness of the relevance and socio-political impact of each person’s protein ecological footprint. To achieve excellence in entomophagy with the production, harvesting and distribution of the highest quality of insect protein. To provide graded feed alternatives to farmers producing healthier and certifiable organic fish and chicken.”

Category: Farmer & Producer

Products: Cricket and mealworm protein powder, oven-roasted whole crickets and mealworms, flavored whole crickets and mealworms, pet food, and livestock feed.

Location: Norwood, Ontario

Founders: Darren, Jarrod, and Ryan Goldin

Date Founded: January 2014

Where to find their products: Their online store.

Price range: $5-$24″

Check out the other six companies on the NYC FPC website here!