Hungry? How about a heaping plate of crickets?
An Austin company is leading the way in trying to introduce crickets and other insects as a major food source.
World Ento (for 'entomophagy,' which is a word for bug eating) in Austin is one of several start ups worldwide that are trying to bring bug eating into the mainstream, by making energy bars and other foods that don't appear to be crispy crickets, according to the company's Harman Johan.
"We're expecting that well before the end of 2015, you'll be able to go to Whole Foods and buy an edible insect product," Johan told Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.
The United Nations recently suggested insects as the most efficient food source for the future, saying there are plenty of them out there, and as cold blooded creatures, they don't need to burn calories to keep themselves warm. which means they consume 12 times less feed than cattle.
They are also small and easy to transport, and full or protein.
Johan says then, business for World Ento, which began in a dorm room, has seen demand for it's products explode.
"All the media over edible insects has turned from 'eeew, you're eating bugs,' to, 'hey, this actually makes a lot of sense'," he said.
Supporters of edible insects points out that many foods we routinely eat today, from taw fish to tomatoes, were not too long ago considered gross, or worse, poisonous. But the idea of eating insects has been slow to catch on in First World countries, where the idea of eating insects is more likely to be on a segment of 'Fear Factor,' than on a plate in an upscale restaurant.
But Johans says the key is to use bugs as the ingredient for healthy snacks and other foods that people eat every day. He says consumers seldom ponder what occasionally gross stuff is inside candy bars and other items they eat, and it can be the same for bugs.
"It's like someone turned on a faucet," he said. "Our sales are through the roof. We are easily doing fifteen times the sales we were doing last year."
Scientists say the 'dirty' reputation insects have is generally external, and comes from their life in the dirt, and around feces, etc. They say when bugs are killed and cleaned, they are no dirtier than any plant or animal food source.