The New York Times recently ran a profile of a woman named Megan Miller who started a cricket company. It’s called Bitty Foods. They grind up crickets, mix them with coconut and cassava into a flour, and sell the flour to consumers. Miller and other entrepreneurs believe that the time is ripe for a new trend in food—eating insects.
It makes a lot of sense—on paper. Insects are very green, having a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional American livestock (crickets only take 6-8 weeks to fully mature). Raising insects is far more sustainable than raising cows. Insects are also very nutritious; they’re high in vitamins, minerals, and protein: one cup of Miller’s flour has 28 grams of protein.
Super green. Nutritious. Novelty. Home run? I wouldn’t invest your lifesavings in an American cricket startup just yet. There’s only one drawback, but it’s a decisive one: disgust. Most Americans think eating bugs is disgusting. It’s one thing if someone thinks the food you make tastes bad. But if very concept of the food you make induces revulsion in the average consumer, you’re in big trouble. That’s not to say that Bitty Foods won’t find success in niche markets—the article mentions Paleo and gluten-free eaters—but insects are still a long way from crawling into the American mainstream.
Eating insects is popular in certain countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. But let’s face it: the only reason it’s popular in those countries is because they’re poor—or were poor when the insect-eating tradition started. Raising cattle is considerably more expensive than raising insects, and the amount of meat a country eats tends to correlate with how wealthy it is. In other words, people eat cow meat if they can afford it (and they’re not Hindu). If the average person is given the choice between a steak or an insect stew, they’re going with the steak every time.
For any problem with Nassau crickets, call the pros so you can rest easy.