Can We Save the World by Eating Crickets? Japanese Retailer Muji Is Trying!
Muji says these cricket crackers are so delicious they're about the save the planet.
People have been eating bugs since before we were humans, and entomophagy (eating insects) plays a part in the food culture of more than a few societies. In recent decades, however, those bug-eating traditions have fallen out of practice, causing the general public to turn up their noses at what was once an abundant source of food. So we can thank the coinciding interests of people around the world finding new interest in their cultures' gastronomic histories, and scientists worried about food insecurity in the face of global warming, for a rebound in entomophagy interest.
In fact, we can tell just how mainstream bug-eating is starting to become with the introduction of this new product from popular Japanse retailer Muji, which usually stocks trendy, minimalistic home and clothing items, and a selection of shelf-stable foods and snacks. In 2020, Muji has set its sights on one new ingredient in particular: crickets.
Through a special page on the Muji website
, they pose a question: will crickets save the world? Clearly aware that their new cricket products are unlikely to become more than a novelty item without a serious push in the right direction, this new page describes just why Muji thinks the project is worth it.
First, they explain why entomophagy is a good idea in the first place. What's wrong with the way we eat now? Well, they explain, with the way things are going now, the human population of earth is likely to hit 10 billion by the year 2050, and as the population grows, so does our need for dependable, protein-rich foods. By weight, crickets contain almost three times the amount of protein as your average steak or chicken thigh, and they take up far fewer resources.
Although crickets were once a common enough part of the diets of many people who lived in the mountains of Japan, with that culture all but gone and forgotten, Muji steps in to teach us just why crickets are such a good option when it comes to the protein of the future:
① Not only do crickets need less food and water than bigger animals, but they're also much happier in cramped spaces than your average cow, pig, or chicken!
② Crickets grow fast, reaching full size in just 35 days, and reproducing just as quickly.
③ While crickets mostly end up eating a lot of grain, they're omnivores and will gladly eat just about anything, including food scraps that might otherwise go to waste.
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Plus, we learn that crickets (like the "Gryllus bimaculatus" that Muji is using), taste a bit like shrimp. Yum!?
Which brings us to the grand conclusion! On May 20th, Muji will begin selling one very special product through their online shop:
Created in the style of traditional Japanese senbei crackers (煎餅), the cricket crackers are made with real cricket flour (ground crickets), and developed with the help of research from Tokushima University. "In order to bring out the best of the cricket flavor," Muji writes, "we left out any extra ingredients, and kept things simple. " A new incarnation of traditional Japanese food culture, meant to send a powerful message about the future... they say the crackers have a light shrimp-like flavor. Preorders start on May 20th
. We'll just have to try them and find out.
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