A photo of fried crickets served on a fancy plate.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

On a recent episode of Shark Tank, entrepreneurs Rosa Wang, Laura D’Asaro, and Meryl Natow introduced their chip company Chirps. At first glance, their product looks just like any other tortilla chip. But one look at the ingredient label shows that Chirps are unlike any other chip on the market. That’s because they’re made with cricket flour.

It sounds disgusting at first, no doubt. But that’s only because insect-based diets aren’t common in developed countries. In poorer regions of the world, insects are consumed on a daily basis. And believe it or not, the little pests make for an incredible source of protein.

Not only do they make for a great source of protein, but they’re far more sustainable than other types of meat. Consider this statistic taken directly from the Chirps website: producing one pound of cricket flour only requires one gallon of water. That’s 2,000 times less than the amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef.

On top of that, a pound of cricket flour contains 31 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat. Compare that to a pound of beef, which contains 22 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat.

In total, Chirps has found that an astounding 80% of countries and 2.5 billion people consume crickets on a regular basis. It’s safe to say that it’s already a staple food for much of the world’s population.

But Chirps isn’t the only company capitalizing on this trend. Chapul is a similar company that specializes in edible items made from cricket flour. However, instead of chips, Chapul produces protein bars and protein powder.

It’s likely still going to be a while before insects are widely consumed in the United States and other Western civilizations. However, when farm animals become too expensive and unsustainable to maintain, insects will become the go-to source for protein.