Blazing Trails: A Bug Story

I have a dream that one day insect meat will be a popular alternative to beef, pork, and chicken.

I have a dream that one day insect meat will be a popular alternative to beef, pork, and chicken.

I eat insects. Not just the spiders that urban legend tells me I eat in my sleep. I eat crickets and grasshoppers, wax worms, and mealworms. Next week, I’m getting some hornworms that should be delicious.

When I tell others that I am an entomophagist (someone who eats bugs), I tend to get one of a few responses. “Wow, that’s, er, different.” Or: “I thought that an entomophagist studied the origin of words?”* Or: “Are they tasty?” Even my mother is skeptical of my dietary habits.

I have a dream that insects will be associated with health, environmental sustainability, and societal wellbeing instead of filth and squalor.

Look, I’m no trailblazer. I am not ahead of my time. I didn’t realize that the Earth revolves around the sun or drop out of Harvard before dropping out of Harvard was cool. I am certainly not the first person to eat a bug or two and I can guarantee that I’m not going to be the last.

I have a dream today.

So what am I if not a trailblazer? I’m an innovator. I bring ideas that are ahead of their time to the present. Of course, innovators are trailblazers in their own way, too; after all, they’re lighting the way for change. But those that are ahead of their time aren’t able to simultaneously guide others down the same path. My mother always says it isn’t good to dwell on the past. She has a point, I have to admit, because she’s my mom and this is a public setting, but also because it is true. But should we dwell on the future? No. Innovators focus on the now.

To build the bridge, I started Six Foods with two like-minded friends from college. We are working to create a line of packaged snacks that use insects as a major ingredient. Insects are high in protein, low in fat, and naturally occurring. They do not have pain receptors, so farming them is moral. They require far less land and water than cattle, so farming them is sustainable. And boy do they taste good.

I have a dream that my future children will enjoy an insect-dog with ketchup and relish (no mustard, I hate mustard) at a Yankee/Red Sox game.

If we start with a packaged snack and introduce the concept of eating insects slowly into Western society, we can build an environment in which eating insect meat is accepted and promoted. If we change the way people think about insects, we can change the way people eat, and if we change the way people eat, we can change the world.

I have a dream today. Tomorrow it will be reality.

* You’re thinking of an etymologist, silly!

Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

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