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Chapul Bars: Feed the Revolution

By Brent Wallen on Feb 12, 2013

Has anyone ever
double-dog-dared you to eat a slimy, creepy crawly, six-legged creature as they
dangled it in front of your face? Did you swallow hard, tug on your shirt
collar a bit, and start to perspire slightly? Did you accept the challenge, or
turn in the other direction and bolt for the hills? Though consuming insects
may seem repulsive to some, let it be known the multiple advantages might soon
persuade the remaining 20 percent of the world population who don’t currently
ingest them as part of their diet, to convert.

There are 6
million species of insects in the world and a thousand of them are currently
part of a regular diet somewhere. There are only a few hundred species of
mammals. Ten pounds of feed will produce one pound of cattle, but it can
produce eight pounds of crickets. Insects also emit far fewer greenhouse gases
and are more nutritional. Based on these facts, Pat Crowley (NOLS instructor
and founder of Chapul energy bars) believes the United States’ psychology of
eating insects can be changed.

For a number of
years water has been Crowley’s passion. After getting a chance to see water
supply problems up close in person on a post-college trip to South America, he
returned to the U.S to complete a graduate degree in hydrology. As he learned
more and more about the unsustainability of water consumption in the United
States, the quicker the picture came into focus. In the Southwest, 30 million
people from San Diego to Phoenix rely on the Colorado River as their water
source. The river, which once flowed all the way to the sea, no longer does.
With 92 percent of the world’s fresh water supply used in the agriculture
sector, Crowley started exploring the use of insect protein as a way to cut
back. The first insect Crowley ever ate came on a NOLS raft/kayak course he was
instructing on the Green River. A student had caught a cricket and dared anyone
in the group to eat it. Crowley seized the opportunity and the cricket
simultaneously and munched and chomped it into tiny pieces and swallowed. He
then explained why he had done so. By the end of the course, half of the
students had tried crickets.

Chapul got
underway in the summer of 2011 after Crowley watched Marcel Dicke’s TED Talk on
the benefits of an insect diet. Chapul Bars are delicious; an all- natural
energy bar with protein from Chapul’s innovative cricket flour produced using
techniques inspired by the Aztecs. The crickets are raised in a commercial farm
and are fed vegetable by-product received from local grocery stores and farms.
Crickets, and many other insects can be raised vertically, which require far
fewer land resources, and can be raised in an urban setting, thus reducing the
carbon footprint of food transportation. The crickets are dried out and then
milled down to flour. The procedure is based off of Aztec and ancient Puebloan
techniques that used cricket and grasshopper flour to make protein-dense breads.
The name "Chapul" is a Nahuatl (Aztec) word for cricket/grasshopper.

The future of our world lies heavily on resource management. There inevitably
will come a day where alternative sources will need to be addressed and
implemented. We may soon be ordering a cockroach and locust pizza (perhaps with
lots of extra cheese at first), termite stew, or a beetle burger with a side of
worms. With the multiple benefits and advantages, the real question is “Why not
eat insects?”

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Topics: Pat Crowley, NOLS, Insect protein, Live the Dream, Aztecs, Water Supply, Crickets Ted Talk