Creepy crawlies are a growing craze in the food industry. Touted as a great source of protein, bugs such as crickets are often roasted and sold with seasonings, or ground into a powder and mixed with fruits and spices to make protein bars.
Insect food production is much less harsh on the environment than other protein sources — growing, harvesting and processing bugs produces a lower level of greenhouse gases and uses less water than processing beef, chicken or pigs. Because of its eco-friendly edge, the industry is attracting food enthusiasts and innovators alike, who are leveraging bugs to create sustainable solutions in agriculture.
One such entrepreneur, Glen Courtright, who first looked at producing oil from insects and then using algae for biofuels, says his company, EnviroFlight, is working with the feed industry to raise insects for animal food. According to a recent article he expects the industry could grow by 50 percent this year.
Another sustainable approach his company takes is by using about 36 million tons of food waste from landfills to feed larvae of black soldier flies. The dehydrated larvae are then used to make a protein meal and oil that’s sold to the pet trade and to pig and fish farmers. Pretty nifty.
But when it comes to feeding humans, the market has been a little more squeamish.
Nevertheless, a slew of bug-food producers — including La Cocina (pictured below) — are hoping Americans will be adventurous enough to start snacking on what they call the "perfect protein."