Want the bad news?
Despite dramatic increases in agricultural productivity, the world faces significant food shortages now and in the near future. Specifically, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people suffer from a chronic lack of nutritious food. And in order to prevent the widespread chaos that would come from mass hunger, agricultural productivity must increase by 60% by 2050 to meet the world's food demands.
Unfortunately, that isn't the only bad news.
Much of the developed world's protein sources are produced in an unsustainable way. Recent research shows that while meat and dairy production is the source of just 18% of the calories and 37% of the protein the world consumes, those same agricultural products account for 83% of the world's farmland--and loss of wild habitat to farmland is the single biggest reason for wildlife extinction.
It's all very depressing.
Unless you're willing to give eating crickets a try.
"Crickets are the world's most sustainable protein," said Sarah Schlafly, founder of St. Louis-based Mighty Cricket. "Cricket also has the highest quality protein out there, even higher than beef. It also has more iron than spinach, and as many Omega-3 fatty acids as salmon per 100 grams."
Schlafly also notes that crickets are also a far more sustainable source of protein than beef.
"One pound of beef protein requires 1700 gallons of water. One pound of chicken protein requires 700 gallons of water. One pound of soy protein requires 5 gallons of water. One pound of cricket protein requires 1 gallon of water. We simply don't have the resources to continue to support relying almost exclusively on beef, pork, and chicken in the West. By 2050 we will not be able to sustain the world's current protein diet. Crickets and other edible insects are an important part of addressing those challenges."
Yeah, but...they're crickets.
The things that make my otherwise tough-as-nails daughter leap onto a chair and scream like she's trying out for an '80s horror remake.
Crickets can't possibly taste very good, right?
Actually, they do.
Since food reviews aren't normally a subject of my articles, I had to taste the product before writing about it.
My wife and I tried a pancake mix sold by Mighty Cricket, and while the consistency is a bit different than typical pancakes, the taste was excellent. Our kids didn't notice a significant difference until after they were done eating and we told them we had just fed them pancakes made of crickets.
(Though the food was good, the big reveal was the best part of dinner. As a parent of a nineteen-year-old, thirteen-year-old, and ten-year-old, I can tell you that raising children can feel at times like being on the wrong end of an ISIS-style terror campaign inexplicably conducted by tiny people you love more than anything else in the world. So, you have to take the small wins--like secretly feeding them bugs.)
On a serious note, the earth is not getting any more land or water--but it is getting a whole lot more people. Helping American consumers become more comfortable with insect protein has become Schlafly and Mighty Cricket's mission.
"We simply won't be able to continue getting our protein exclusively from traditional sources," said Schlafly. "Alternative proteins like crickets will be an important part of solving long-term food and resource challenges. Plus, cricket just tastes good."
Good food that helps the environment and doubles as a fast and easy way to prank your kids?
Mighty Cricket sounds like a mighty good bet.
(That's right. I'm closing out this article with a cricket pun, which research shows is roughly 2,000% better than a beef pun.)