There is an inherent paradox in the way we treat animals: we eat pigs, wear cows and love dogs. There is this weird structure of belief that makes it morally repulsive to eat some animals and to treat others badly. We have firm ideas about which animals are fit for human consumption and which are not. We associate rats and other rodents with rabies and the plague, and insects with filth.
We have strong gut reaction when we are confronted with ideas that violate these norms but there are people who are looking to change that. But one company is looking to change our revulsion: Six Foods, a startup that makes food from crickets. This is their first product: Chirps
Crickets are more nutritious than most meats and are better for the environment. They are much less resource-intensive and cricket farms would take up a fraction of the space needed by current large-scale livestock operations. But these facts don’t make the idea of eating this creature any more appealing to me:
Six Foods has an interesting challenge ahead of them: they have to find a way to make insects more palatable and so far I think they’re doing a really good job of it. Their advert is quirky and fun, their Kickstarter is sleek and, most importantly, their product actually tastes good. So, in spite of it revolting my friends, I decided to try it out. And it wasn’t bad. The benefits of eating crickets are also HUGE – if we could switch global consumption from eating resource-intensive livestock to eating crickets, it would be a move towards a more efficient, more humane and more sustainable future.
But the question still remains: how the hell would one get this into the mainstream? Billions of people still have an visceral response to the idea of eating crickets, which means that Six Foods still has a massive obstacle to overcome: culture.