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You May Be Eating Bug Burgers Sooner Than You Think

A slew of start-ups aim to make crickets part of American cuisine.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

In the late 1970s, the local steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, began to evaporate. After decades of subsequent depopulation and stagnation, any kind of innovation that could carve out a new name or niche for the rustbelt town was a welcome development. Enter Big Cricket Farms, a promising new enterprise that popped up in Youngstown this past spring. To the surprise of many locals, BCF was exactly what it sounded like: a bug ranch.

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To Fight World Hunger, the Secret Ingredient Could Be Bugs

The EU hopes to “exploit the potential of insects as alternative sources of protein” and feel out “their potential incorporation into food."


What would convince you to eat bugs for dinner? What if the global food chain collapsed under the weight of a soaring human population, severe climate change, and diminishing pasture space? The European Union is working on a potential solution for that scenario: It’s spending 3 million Euros to look at bugs’ potential to supplement the continent’s food supply. With the research, the EU hopes to “exploit the potential of insects as alternative sources of protein” and feel out “their potential incorporation into feed and/or food products.”

Insects are a natural food source: They are packed with protein and calcium, low in fat, and offer a cheaper option to farming livestock. Compared to most animals used for food, these cold-blooded creatures spend less energy and nutrients, reproduce faster and in higher quantities, and—if farmed—would emit fewer greenhouse gasses. But bugs also conjure up the image of revolting roach patties and creepy-crawly mealworm larvae. The EU hasn't discussed which particular critters it's looking to fry up, and food producers who take up the cause will probably stay cagey on the secret ingredient—according to the Daily Mail, experts believe that insects will likely be used in food additives under the guise of “animal-based proteins.”

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