Around the world, an estimated 2 billion people welcome insects into their regular diets. Insects can be an excellent food: many species are chock-full of fat, protein, vitamins, and fiber. Yet in places like the United States and Europe, consumers are historically resistant to the idea of entomophagy (insects as cuisine).
But that may be changing. In 2013, the United Nations published a landmark report entitled “Edible Insects: future prospects for food and feed security.” Against the backdrop of overpopulation, food and land scarcity, and climate change, the report makes a compelling case for insects as the sustainable livestock option. Insects emit far fewer greenhouse gases than cattle or pigs, and raising them at scale ties up a lot less land. They’re also efficient protein producers. Insects are cold-blooded, so they spend their calories on growth instead of maintaining consistent body temperatures. This means growing one kilogram of crickets, for example, only takes about 1.7 kilograms of food. By comparison, one kilogram of cattle costs maybe 10 kilograms of food.
The UN report got a lot of attention, and it kicked off something of an insect farming boom in the United States. Propelled by ambitious investors and fascinated news outlets, a number of edible insect startups popped up to ride the wave of consumer interest.
That was years ago. Today, insect farming remains fairly niche in the US — and we wanted to know what happened between then and now. So, we visited two modern cricket farms: one in Austin, Texas, and one in Oakland, California. We saw what it takes to run a viable insect business today, and we learned why the insect revolution still hasn’t quite hit yet. Check out the video above for the full story.