A Cricket of a Snack

In Silicon Valley, the new power brain food is of the insect variety.

August 17, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – At startups in the Bay Area, the sound of crickets—literally—can be heard in the break room as techies munch on the high protein snacks, the San Jose Mercury News reports. With demand for the insects rising, more companies are springing up to produce more.

Already, Bitty Foods bakes the bugs into chips and cookies, while Tiny Farms has begun a cricket breeding program. Exo puts the six-legged insects into protein bars. “I would say there's a new company that launches every six months, maybe even more frequently than that,” said Greg Sewitz, who co-founded Exo.

Downing insects has long been popular worldwide. For example, chapulines (fried grasshoppers) are enjoyed in Mexico, and silk worms and crickets are sold from pushcarts in Thailand. But in the United States, eating bugs has been a harder sell. Insects covered in chocolate or suspended in sugary lollipops have been around the country for a while, but marketing crickets as a good source of protein is relatively new.

“Edible insects are one of the most sustainable forms of protein on the planet,” said Megan Miller, co-founder of Bitty Foods. The company breaks crickets down into a sort of flour, which it mixes with cassava and coconut for baking (gluten-free, of course). “Tech workers are generally the people who are most interested in new trends and in innovation. … So [the Bay Area is] the natural place to launch a slightly strange product.”