Water has been my passion for many years, beginning with a childhood exploring the Colorado river basin and the arid mountains and canyons of Arizona. After an extended post-college hitchhiking trip gave me a chance to see water supply problems up close in Mexico and Central America, I returned to the U.S. to complete a graduate degree in hydrology. The more I learned, the more I understood how starkly unsustainable our water consumption is in the United States, and nowhere more so than in the Southwest, where 30 million people from San Diego to Phoenix rely on the Colorado river for their survival. That magnificent river, which I explored as a child, and where I still lead whitewater rafting expeditions as a professional guide, no longer even reaches the sea. Instead, communities in Arizona, Nevada and California siphon its flow into farms and emerald green golf courses in the desert.
In the summer of 2011, intrigued by Dr. Marcel Dicke’s TED talk on entomophagy, I started exploring the potential of insect protein as a solution to the overconsumption of freshwater in our industrialized agriculture sector, which consumes as much as 92% of all freshwater we (humans) use around the world. The numbers are striking…insects convert grain and grass into edible protein as much as 10 times more efficiently as cows and pigs, and are both rich in key nutrients such as omega-3 acids and low in fat to boot. And so, the math is simple – if we shift even a small fraction of our protein consumption to environmentally friendly, healthy (and tasty!) insects, we can reduce the huge amount of water which irrigates the massive, mechanized farms which exist solely to feed the 300 million head of cattle and 1.4 billion pigs mankind slaughters every year. Enough change here at home, and one day the mighty Colorado might just reach the sea again.
The more I thought about Prof. Dicke’s question – “Why not eat insects?” – the more the picture came into focus. In the U.S. and Europe (two of the few places where insects are not already part of the daily diet), our aversion to eating bugs is purely psychological. But psychology can change – in the early 1960s, most Americans associated raw fish with the local bait shop, but then an entrepreneur named Noritoshi Kanai opened a sushi bar in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1966, catering to Japanese businessmen. The next year, John Belushi started frequenting Kamehachi, a new lunch spot across the street from The Second City, and New York City saw its first sushi bar open in 1975. Today, the residents of Des Moines, Iowa can choose from some 50 sushi restaurants and MenuPages lists 700 for Manhattan alone. I see Chapul in a similar vein – a simple, tasty introduction to a novel delicacy…the first step in a broad culinary shift. So, enjoy Chapul bars, share some with your friends, and let us know what you think. Welcome to the revolution.
--Pat Crowley, Founder, Chapul Bars