For centuries, human civilizations have rightly considered insects an excellent, plentiful and resource-efficient source of protein. Even today, 80% of the world’s people regularly munch edible insects as part of their normal diets – chapulines in Mexico, stir-fried red tree ants in Cambodia, inago (grasshoppers) and hachinoko (bee larvae) in Japan and casu marzu in Italy. And with good reason…eating insects provides an incredibly rich source of protein, iron and omega-3 acids and are very low in cholesterols and fat.
Today, even as the average American consumes roughly twice as much protein as nutritionists recommend, we have limited our diets to a narrow range of relatively unhealthy and inefficient sources. As a result, we use huge amounts of land and water to feed cattle, pigs and chickens, and suffer the consequences; experts estimate that 92% of all freshwater consumed is absorbed by agriculture, the average hamburger patty has the same greenhouse gas impact as driving a Toyota Corolla for 10 miles, and our waterways are laced with antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. Soy and whey protein, popular alternatives to meat, still rely on resource-intensive agriculture, expose us to unhealthy levels of phytoestrogens and trigger dairy allergies.
At the same time, the global population continues to grow…from 6 billion in 2000 to 7 billion today and probably 9-10 billion within our lifetimes. With billions of mouths to feed, the pressure on our land and (especially) water resources is intensifying.
At Chapul, we think its time to learn from our ancestors and live smarter. Time to embrace a more efficient source of protein. Time for a revolution.