Are insects the future of food? | Megan Miller | TEDxManhattan

Are insects the future of food? | Megan Miller | TEDxManhattan

When you hear crickets chirping, what do you think of? Warm summer nights, grassy fields, the awkward silence that happens when a joke falls flat? When I think of crickets, I think of the future of food. Because I eat crickets almost everyday in the form of baked goods, like this, which I made from cricket flour. It might be difficult for a lot of people to consider eating whole insects, but they become a lot more manageable when they’re in this format. This is cricket flour, which I make from whole insects that are dried and milled into a fine, nutty powder. And it’s packed with nutrients, it has healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and around 70 grams of protein per serving. And I’m in pretty good company when it comes to eating insects.This dish that you see right here is served at Noma in Copenhagen, which has been named the number one restaurant in the world for the past several years. We can even say that crickets are on the cusp of becoming trendy. In my previous life before I started Bitty Foods, I was a trend forecaster and consumer researcher in the media and technology industries. And looking through the lens of a trend forecaster, I see a powerful shift happening in the way that people think about food People are more interested in sustainability than ever before and understanding where their food comes from, which is why we’re all here today. And thanks to the internet, we’re constantly being exposed to new trends and ideas and even new cuisines. Like this three bee salad from Chef David George Gordon. You may already know some of the reasons why eating insects is a good idea. By the year 2050, there will be an additional 2 billion people on the planet and economists say that we are unlikely to have the food resources to feed everyone. We are facing a global food crisis. And our current agricultural production will not scale to feed 9+ billion people. Economists say that by the year 2050, meat will become a luxury product. In their direst estimates, beef will be priced like caviar. It will be a rare luxury for many of us, and for many many more of us, it will be completely unattainable. Insects, on the other hand, are a highly sustainable form of protein. They can be grown with very little land and very little water, and they have a feed to meat conversion ratio 10 times more efficient than beef. Insects are in fact, the most efficient form of protein on planet Earth. Last May, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published a 200 page report that made world headlines for its conclusion that edible insects could be the key to global food sustainability. Among their findings, if everyone in the world started eating insects, and they became a part of our mainstream food supply, we could reclaim 30% of the earth’s land surface, which is currently being used by the livestock industry to grow animals and the grains that the animals eat. That’s a third of the Earth. We could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 18% and we could lower the cost of food all around the world by about 33%. I can’t think of another food source that could have this kind of impact on both the environment and the global economy, and that in a nutshell is why I eat bugs. But eating bugs doesn’t normally look like this. This is me in my kitchen baking cricket flour muffins. Normally when we think about eating insects, we think of people in times of strife desperate people who are in a famine situation or Fear Factor contestants. But I’m looking to change that perception by turning insects into an aspirational food. A highly nutritious food that is sought out by thought leaders like you, and I think we can do that in the next couple of years. And I also think that within the next decade, insects will move from being a crazy, edgy food to being a completely mainstream food for most people. To help foster that cultural change, I’m starting with the cricket. There are 2,000 different species of insects that can be eaten and are eaten by humans around the world, but I think crickets have a very nice cultural association for Westerners. Like we talked about before with the nice chirping and the summer nights. And, they don’t carry any diseases that are transmissible to humans, and not to be confused with locusts, they don’t destroy crops either. Although crickets are delicious boiled, sautéed, fried, and in many other preparations, I think that reducing their friction and making them more easy to think about, by turning them into a flour is the way that we’re going to be able to introduce them to the Western world. And so, I turn them into a nutty tasting earthy flour and I bake them into cookies and muffins, and other baked goods through my company Bitty Foods. And if you are convinced as I am, that insects are worth trying, I invite you to join me in tasting some cricket cookies when we break for lunch. Thank you.

76 thoughts on “Are insects the future of food? | Megan Miller | TEDxManhattan

  • I don't believe her intentions. How do you want to replace beef burgers with cricket cookies, seriously. You replace plant based flour with live animals? And what about animals that live on insects? Bees are dying out, are we going to eat them too?

    9 bil people would be perfectly capable of feeding themselves if we stop eating animals and animal products and waste so much, and large corporations stop producing everything that has serious impact on us and environment. Beef and pork will be luxury because guess what, we won't be supporting the industry anymore.

  • Go vegan instead.. grow fruits, veggies and other plant foods, permaculture style, organic. That's the future of food.

  • Damn livestock industry….that's all I have to say,seriously,shut down all the fastfood-chains and the industry they create and you get rid of tons of health problems and greenhouse problems as well as all the benefits she stated in the video.

  • Very worried about the population of this earth, as if though, we have already fed 100% of the people on the planet! You eat cricket I'll stick to meat and vegetables!

  • Les insectes font partie des solutions pour le futur de notre alimentation. J'ai gouté des fourmis, des pucerons (ne pas manger ceux qui poussent sur l'asclépiade, poison!) et quelques sauterelles. Mon idée a toujours été de faire des farines d'insectes pour faciliter l'intégration dans notre alimentation, exactement ce que fait Megan Miller!

  • It's amazing home many people are actually trying edible insects.  Don't just dismiss them, give them a try.

  • I think we'll be growing meat in a lab before too long. Sure, actual meat will continue to be a delicacy, but I'm not too worried about not being able to have my cheeseburger in 20 years.

  • The problem is not a lack of food.  The problem is a lack of poor people's ability to buy it and the super rich, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, leaching off the world economic system (especially the oil system), wasting ungodly amounts of money and resources on themselves and their spoiled, fat-assed vacationing citizens.  The Open Fuel Standard Act, and especially methanol, would stop that, empower the poor, de-finance radical Islam, and give us a proper baseline for the future.  Fringe, hard-to-implement and distasteful ideas like cricket cookies, rationing, or population control shouldn't even be entering the discussion right now.  Not surprisingly, you will not hear this in any establishment-vetted TED discussions.

  • There is a protein addiction at play here and most everywhere in the American mindset, including among 'progressives', but it's more psychological that actual. Satiation does not equal proper and healthy nutritional fulfillment. Plants have all the enzymes and aminos to allow our bodies to produce the protein we need. Protein thought of as one quantifiable end-product that we can and must take off the body another creature, is a myth. If you want a delicacy, be it crickets, ham, or fois gras, go ahead, but be honest, it is a choice you are making, not at all a need. Don't use false science to justify your desires and belief systems. Consider what are the best ways to good in the world.

    A healthy amount of protein is about 10-15% of caloric intake. In mother's milk it is about 8%, which supports the fastest stage of growth in a human's lifetime. Too much protein causes disease and health issues. The standard American diet is at about 30-35% of calories. Even 'lean' meat sources such as chicken breast or steak are at least 50% of calories from fat. Fat and glucose both cause immediate feelings of satiation and energy. It is a personal delusion to assume this sense of strength comes directly from protein, it does not. Saying it does is a false personal justification of a lifestyle you are programmed to believe is good for you. The glorification and exaggeration of the role of protein is used to appease existential guilt and the nagging sense of wrongdoing that comes from using and abusing animals, wasting precious resources, and creating 30-50% of the total CO2 emissions that are wreaking havoc on our environment, threatening our safety, live-ability, and food supply.

  • This would be wonderful if she wasnt selling her flour at a dollar an ounce. That's not my idea of sustainable. She talks a big game about helping the future of our planet and feeding the hungry, but most Americans couldnt afford this, let alone the less fortunate in third world places.

  • Megan you are right on! The previous comments from many here show an absolute lack of understanding of how many people live on very little every day, often a bowl or two of rice. Protein, calcium, niacin, and other nutrients found in crickets is lacking throughout the world resulting in all kinds of health problems keeping people from living a full life. 100 grams of crickets contain: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, and 3.10 mg. of niacin.

 We are in dire need for this kind of food. And for all of you advocating for growing fruits and vegetables, Absolutely!! That must continue. But guess what, crickets can live off the agricultural by products. Win-Win! Reclaiming land from animal farming, feeding people across the world in a more sustainable manner, and improving the lives of billions is what this kind of thinking does. For those of you advocating not taking a life, even a crickets, that is your own personal spiritual belief you proclaim all must follow while eating your Whole Foods organically grown salad that costs more than many people in this world make in a week. It has no place in this discussion any more than someone trying to convert you to Christianity or Islam. There are starving people across the globe that would be thankful for this kind of food. I for one am going to go online and get some right now! Thank you Megan!!

  • Ok I am all for sustainability, and would even try this cricket flour… but BEES? We need them desperately and their population is suffering. Three-bee salad does not equal sustainable 🙁

  • The only thing that would happen if we 'regain' 30% of earth surface, would be real estate development.

  • Why the hell would I eat crickets when I can get all my protein directly from plants? Plants that are:
    1- Just as nutritious if not more
    2- Easier to grow
    3- Take less resources (since crickets need to eat plants first)
    4- Free of a nervous system, meaning they can't feel pain and have 0 concept of being alive.

    Hers would be an amazing solution if we weren't able to digest plant-matter and get all nutrients from them. Very misguided!

  • Wow! #Food   #Future   #Crickets  Who would have thought someone dieting on #insects  could be that hot!

  • There's no food crisis people, have you heard of GMO? It's everywhere in America, that's what feeds us the mass amount of food we eat. We aren't going to run out of land either, ever heard of vertical planting? And also we can already manufacture meat WITHOUT animals, WAKE UP PEOPLE, you don't need to eat insects unless thats actually what you like, but for me i'm sticking with regular meats and flours. 

  • Lets assume that there isn't a food crisis, or that there are plenty of alternatives to deal with it. How is that an excuse to not adopt a beneficial alternative? Making things more efficient, healthy, environmentally friendly, sustainable, affordable, accessible, etc, etc, etc doesn't have to be about solving some impending crisis. Its about doing what is right and better! If you were in pain, you might like your aspirin. Perhaps someone shows you a medicine that is better in every possible way, would you just say that its unnecessary? A cleaner burning fuel? A safer and more affordable car? Crops that need less pesticides, water, and fertilizer? What is so wrong with making things better? I do think that there are plenty of problems with how food is produced and doled out, but even if there wasn't, making food better (in literally every way possible) shouldn't be something you need to ask "why" for.

  • If people stopped eating meat and started eating insects, we would eventually have a whole slew of new problems to replace the ones we already have. How about we simply revert back to when animal products were a luxury and our meals revolved around fruits and veggies? Now that's sustainable agriculture. 

  • All you guys that argue veganese is the better way to go, you forget all about the protein that you will have from this flour.. I think it's a great idea, and although not replacing meat, it might absolutely decrease the need for such high amounts of it

  • I take Black Ant powder as a supplement, it's pretty nutritious stuff! Not sure I can sustain myself on it but bugs as an addition to the diet makes a great deal of sense. I don't understand why this concept is receiving so much hate? If it can help reduce the factory farming atrocities occurring then it's a good thing!

  • She is a very good speaker, it all sounds good but looking at her products on her website it was immediately apparent that it's just another trendy overpriced fad food brand. And the snacks don't have nearly as much protein in them as they could have.

    Insects can be a cheap, environmentally friendly and healthy option for people consider but not marketed in this way.

    If you want some cheap reasonably healthy (not non fat) protein then stick with guying a carton of eggs. Very fairly priced and way more protein for your money.

  • ANOTHER great example of; just because we can doesnt mean we should. AND another great example of how disconnected and cruel human beings are. Bee salad? Great idea we are already losing 35% of bee colonies due to our greedy diets. 10 X more available protein than beef??? Guess what else is? VEGETABLE protein.. She is using SOOOO many statistics that she has hijacked from the plant based diet movement. If we removed eating animals for flesh or fluid we would remove the SINGLE GREATEST polluting industry on the planet and have us use crops that we feed to animals to get back the lost protein that is taken from eating animals that eat our crops. 
     Its another sad day when we are using other sentient beings for another fad or trend instead of being honest and eating an EXTREMELY healthy vegetable plant based diet to THRIVE from..

  • It's my personal opinion that one day, eating an organic plant based diet is the way for humanity to go. I think we're getting there slowly, but a shift like that isn't going to happen overnight. For so many people today who eat meat/carb/dairy based diets, transitioning to vegan or even vegetarian would be very difficult. Using insect protein could be a good middle stepping stone to help people shift away from their animal meat based diets and towards something more ideal.

    Gotta admit the bee salad made me a little sad…. but I'd totally eat a cricket.

  • It's great if we can reduce our meat intake by eating insects…but what about all the creatures that feed on insects already? We will be obliterating their food supply. 
    We need to reduce the number of people on earth AND reduce our massive diets.

  • Amazing talk! The cruelty and inhumane butchery of the meat industry and their carnivorous consumers with vicious appetites who are blissfully ignorant of and oblivious to the same has to come to an end. I don't expect the world to become vegetarian and considering our population growth neither is it sustainable. This insect based diet is the future. Kudos to Megan and her company bitty!

  • Mmm. Nothing like taking a bite into something and getting a nice chewy diet of brains, eyeballs, antennae, egg sacs, sperm sacs, exoskeletons…

    Keep your filthy fucking disease-infested bugs.

  • "the protein conversion rate of crickets at 35% is only slightly better than chickens." -TIME magazine. So not as big a boon to the planet as being described here.

  • Tedx is another filthy organization of the new world order trying to control humanity, make humans slaves in ways that we see but cannot understand cause the majority of us have lost our real destination. They create and destroy at the same time! We just follow their orders without think about it completing their purposes step by step. Think about it for just one second!

  • If insects are so easy to grow and use so little resources to grow, why the heck does cricket flour cost so much? If everything I've heard about reduced cost and reduced land requirements and reduced feed requirements is true, shouldn't the cost for the cricket flour be cheaper than say wheat flour? She said that meat would become a luxury item, check cricket flour on line, it already is a luxury item. I wonder what you have to pay for a plate of 3 Bee Salad? Yes, it will all come down to dollars.

  • bugs are more expensive than meat as of now. thats the thing about this kind of economy we have, why would i start buying this "weird" new food, that, sure, on paper is a more efficient kind of food that costs way less to produce than the by western standards convential food, when it still is more costly for the consumer?

  • At 2:48…"Insects…are in fact…THE most efficient from of protein on planet earth."


    In the book, "The Secrets of Spirulina", on page 11, where the chemical analysis the United Nations performed on spirulina is shown…I think those facts might beg to differ with yours.

    Ground up crickets, will never, and I repeat NEVER, be as bioavailable as a single-celled organism with NO CELL WALL.

    (i.e. it's VERY digestible…like 86%)

    ((oh, and your getting 86%, of a 'thing' that is nearly 65% protein to begin with))

    Now what was that about the most efficient protein on earth?

    Sorry NorCal girly…I love ya…you're my homegirl and a cutie…but facts are facts.

  • At 3:40…"I can't think…"

    You said it.

    There are people who grow Spirulina using their own morning urine as the primary ongoing input…on land…and in space stations.

    (Imagine how little 'space needed to 'produce protein.)

    I get it. You've made your decision. You're attempting to garnish attention for your product.

    It's a valiant effort. Aimed in the right direction. But you've ignored better sources of protein.

  • The other good news is : THEY HAVE DECIDED NOT BE 8 BILLIONS in 20 years,
    When you put things down this is the first problem ahead : and it's only wether u can decided or not.

  • Psst, mealworms have a nutty taste. If you're allergic to nuts, fried mealworms are a good substitution.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  • we need to control our population , we dont need a planet with 7 Billion people 2.5 billion live in suffering , why even be born???

  • 3:40 then you're not educated! I can certainly think of another food source that can have that kind of impact on the environment, it's called holistic managed grazing. I totally support the idea that vegans should be eating insects if they genuinely want to reduce animal deaths, but the claims about meat are just wrong! Get cows out of factories & onto land that is desertifying & unable to support crop growth & they will have way more impact than eating insects will, since insects still need grain not grass to eat (possible exception being Witchetty grubs or other bugs that can survive completely on scraps, leaf litter etc)

  • whenever I hear people discuss menu options as an authentic political topic, I find myself overwhelmed with an irrational need to scream "At 7 billion strong,human appetite is second only to the sun as a driver of earth climate, which is always in a state of flux, wherein change is constant.

  • I've eaten a couple of crickets. The nutrients in our food are much more important than how it looks. Insects are much more nutrient rich than junk and fast food.

  • excelent! i'm a nutritionist, and i know she is a seller, but never mind her intentions ! she's absolutely right!

  • Hello guys! I have a question. These TED-X meetings are managed only for members of TED-X and without tickets? Or these re meeting with special admisssion tickets?

  • It shocks me how close minded these comments are on eating insects. Considering how common said practice was here in Asian countries, I'd say there's nothing wrong about eating insects.

  • Anyone remember the killer bee escape from south america and disrupted the entire ecosystem of the America continent? Scientists modified their genes in an attempt to produce more honey but these aggressive insects dominated and took over entire colonies of other bees. Insects cannot be artificially grown, or man-grown, because the risk for messing up the entire ecosystem is too great. Any delicate little modification in any insect numbers changes the entire food chain and will have unimaginable consequences. And it's so easy for these insects to escape.
    Unless this woman is willing to hunt wild insects, otherwise it is not a feasible suggestion, we can NOT mess with the nature, even growing vegetables and invasive plants have messed up our ecosystem, doing the same with LIVE insects will doom the earth.

  • Insects are well established in Asian cuisine, people shouldn't shy away from it. When it comes down to it, both lobster and crab are arthropods, so think of it that way. I have ate scorpion before, and can confirm that it was palatable, and maybe even tasty when cooked right. I feel like some barbecued crickets would be good.

  • I'm pleasantly surprised to see you and not a stereotypical cricket eating Thai convey this message. I beg you to partner with Thai restaurant and have them include your baked goods in their menu. You are part of history ! Carpe diem !

  • 1:95 the same old song we sang back in the middle of 20th century цhen we upped from 2b to 4b+. Technology provided, mass starvation was averted. What is a +28% gain in defecit compared to a +100%?

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