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But here in the U.S., a certain "ick factor" has kept consumers from eating crickets, locusts and mealworms. To combat the ickiness and convert skeptical consumers, bug-food advocates are trying a specific marketing tactic: be clever and cute.
She's usually met with scrunched-up noses and looks of disgust, at least from the adults. Children tend to be more receptive, McGill says. She's been promoting entomophagy for years, so she's used to it, she says.
Intelligent cutesiness is a good way to describe this entire sector. Massachusetts-based Six Foods is rolling out chips later in 2014 with a cricket base called, get this, Chirps. There have been efforts to rename locusts "sky prawns," to make them more appetizing. The thought is, if you can make people laugh with a pun or cute graphic, it might be enough for them to let their guard down.
"There is obviously a hurdle to get over, in terms of the 'yuck factor,' " Jack Ceadel, founder of the Austin, Texas-based Hopper Foods, says. His company is just one of a handful of bug-infused startups that have popped up in Utah, Massachusetts and California.
Within the sector, food makers are hyper-aware of consumers' squeamishness about eating insects, Ceadel says. That's why his products only use cricket flour, where the bug is pulverized, to make a high-protein powder that can be added to almost any processed food. But more importantly, Ceadel says, consumers can't see the bugs.
Cleverness in advertising and marketing is important to assuage consumer fears. But the growth in edible insect sales goes far beyond the novelty. Consumers might be first grabbed by a clever logo or well-designed package, but the makers of bug foods want to steer the conversation toward the environment, and how taxing it is to raise protein-dense food.
"The only argument against edible insects is a psychological taboo. And I understand it's a big one. It's a really, really big one," says Robert Nathan Allen, creator of the Austin-based nonprofit Little Herds.
Little Herds, with its logo of a ladybug with black and white cow spots, focuses on the environmental and social justice arguments in favor of eating bugs. It's not alone. A 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization promotes eating bugs, calling them healthy and nutritious, with a far smaller carbon footprint than most livestock.
From an international development standpoint, insect-rearing is less capital-intensive than other animal husbandry, giving poorer farmers a method of entry. Once you start making comparisons to more culturally palatable forms of protein, like beef and pork, insects look a lot more environmentally friendly.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people that we talk to are at least willing to take a bite. And once they take that bite and they're knowingly eating an insect, it starts to break down a lot of those internal barriers. And it makes them question, 'What is food to me? What do I consider food?' " Allen says.
Bugs In Cyberspace provides live pet insects, arachnids, and other live bugs to zoos, museums, universities, and classrooms across the country. We have been an online informational resource for passionate pet bug hobbyists everywhere since 1997.
Look and you will find an undiscovered world in your own backyard. I can find an insect or spider or other bugs I've never seen before almost every time I go outdoors. So can you! The world is a very interesting place where as few as 10% of organisms are even named. Behaviors specific to each species and interactions among various organisms within environments form ecosystems more complex than the sum total of all potential human imagination. Nature is a perfect system where even synthetic materials are eventually reabsorbed.
We did it with desert beetles, offering them and growing interest to pave their way in the hobby. Now, it is the time for Aquatic Insects! Back in stock soon. Dynastes tityus larvae are back! We utilize heat packs of four different sizes to get your