By Jessica Tran
It started with 2,000 live crickets delivered to a dorm room on Brown University’s campus in 2013. The founders of Exo, Greg Lewis and Gabi Sewitz, had a bold idea to turn crickets into food for people with only Google research, a vague recipe for cricket flour, an oven, and a blender. Greg had just attended a conference at MIT where it was mentioned that insects were a sustainable food source. Gabi, a self-confessed health and fitness nut, had been making his own protein bars at home as alternatives to sugary mass-market versions, and they joined forces to give birth to Exo - a line of protein bars made with nature’s superfood: crickets.
"It started with 2,000 live crickets delivered to a dorm room on Brown University’s campus in 2013."
You may have heard the chirps of a revolution happening — insect protein is everywhere, and it’s only going to increase in volume. You may have read article after article on insect protein and furrowed your brow in consternation — why are people now eating bugs? Don’t we have anything else to eat?
As the leading insect protein brand, we’ve heard it all. From references to the post-apocalyptic movie Snowpiercer to jokes about Soylent 2.0. No, our bars won’t give you uncontrollable urges to rub your legs today and chirp. No, you can’t ‘taste’ the cricket. Yes, they’re delicious and we eat them everyday (we have to - it’s our passion!).
The world’s population is getting out of control. By the year 2050, it may balloon to ten billion people — and those future citizens of the world need to eat. We can’t afford to keep taxing the environment with traditional sources of protein: the production of livestock is extremely resource-intensive and requires huge amounts of water, space, and feed. Cows are the biggest producers of greenhouse gases - even more than transportation (think about that for a second).
"The world’s population is getting out of control. By the year 2050, it may balloon to ten billion people - and those future citizens of the world need to eat."
In response to this, a wave of companies have been meeting the challenge of feeding a growing population, with environmentally-sustainable alternatives — there are great companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek, who are making plant-based meats. We turned to crickets.
Insects, eaten by 80% of the world’s population, are an extremely nutrient-dense source of protein that has been largely untapped by Western markets until now. Crickets are 65% protein by weight, and higher in protein than beef jerky, which sits at around 33%. They’re also full of the best quality proteins — crickets contain all the essential amino acids needed for healthy muscle development. They’re a nutritional powerhouse, full of zinc, iron, calcium, and B Vitamins. Gram for gram, crickets have more protein, calcium, and iron than beef.
"Insects, eaten by 80% of the world’s population, are an extremely nutrient-dense source of protein that has been largely untapped by Western markets until now."
Most importantly, they’re a very sustainable food source. The nature of insects means that you can farm a lot of them in a small space with minimal impact on the environment in regards to water, space, and feed. They produce 100 times less greenhouse gases than cattle, and require 20 times less resources overall to raise.
Consider these facts: It takes 200 square meters of land just to grow just one pound of beef, compared to 15 square meters for the same amount of crickets. It takes 22,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilo of beef, compared to 1 liter of water for the same amount of crickets. It just makes sense.
"Crickets are 65% protein by weight, and higher in protein than beef jerky, which sits at around 33%."
If we haven’t yet convinced you, consider the origins of sushi — we describe the California roll as a ‘culinary Trojan horse’ because it did just that — it introduced a very foreign food and integrated it into the mainstream Western diet by changing the form of what was essentially raw fish. Sushi is now sold at airports and in school cafeterias. People go nuts over documentaries about sushi. Even lobster, chicken wings, and oysters were once considered undesirable foods.
We like to think we’re doing the same thing with crickets: We have a Michelin star chef on board, use only the best ingredients, and we put our crickets into protein bars, which are one of the most convenient and familiar form factors. It helps consumers get used to the idea of eating insects in a form that feels familiar, in incredibly tasty (and normal!) flavors, like Banana Bread, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Cocoa Nut, Blueberry Vanilla, and Apple Cinnamon.
Already 80% of the world eats insects. Are you going to be bold and join the ento-lution?
Use code ‘SWEATLIFENYC’ for 20% off your order - just head to our website. We’ll also be giving away a few boxes on social media - keep an eye out!
Jessica Tran is the Communications Manager at Exo, the leading insect protein brand, and blogger at Jess Loves Fred, a NYC-based fitness and fashion blog. With a background in comms for cool startups like ClassPass, HelloFresh, and Negative Underwear and at one point doing PR for Australian pineapples and chestnuts, Australian-born Jess now lives in New York where she attempts to lift weights and eat every single matcha-flavored dessert that comes her way.
Exo makes nutritious, tasty, and sustainable food products from cricket flour, a revolutionary protein source. Formulated by a three-Michelin-starred chef and created with premium ingredients, Exo is aiming to normalize the consumption of insect protein through a range of good-for-you and good-for-the-environment products. Exo currently produces cricket flour protein bars in five flavors. All bars are free of gluten, soy, dairy and refined sugars.