Sustainability is not a new concept, but the increased consciousness has led to many new concepts here in the United States and particularly the Midwest revolving around food sustainability. Bugeater Foods of Lincoln, NE is a perfect example of a budding company focused on sustainable food options that is pairing research with innovation to lead a new industry. What industry you ask? Insect based food products. While this may seem completely foreign and inconceivable to many people in our culture, this is not so uncommon globally. To be frank, it may not be all that uncommon here for long if they have anything to say about it.
Co-founders Kelly Sturek and Alec Wiese along with Food Scientist Julianne Kopf are certainly braving some uncharted territory in the Midwest market. Taking on the pre-Cornhusker Nebraska football moniker of of yore, Bugeaters is fitting as all three attended the university in Lincoln. After a discussion spurred over cheap tacos, Sturek and Wiese decided to try their hand at making their own cricket blend. After a few runs with mixed results they enlisted the expertise of Kopf, meeting through the UNL Food Science Club.
The process of innovation has just begun for Bugeater though, as they continue researching and developing more diverse flavors as well as unique products. One totally unique product they are developing is a cricket based rice, which is a staple for a large percentage of the global population. The environment and resources Bugeater has at hand in Lincoln paired with a drive to continue building a sustainable product line not just of convenience products lays a foundation. Sturek believes that this foundation, through research collaborations with the University and their supplier has to opportunity to put Lincoln on the map as the center this young industry.
The Food Sciences Department has recently moved to facilities on Nebraska Innovation Campus to allow them to take advantage current and future collaborative research opportunities through grant funding. A second benefit that can be attributed to novelty, bug-based food products are regulated and researched through funding by the USDA . Another benefit the trio has going for them Kopf says, is their supplier of the raw cricket powder Aaron Dossey Ph.D. . Dossey a molecular biologist and sustainability advocate, has created a patented process that allows him to supply Bugeater with the most refined raw product . Dossey is also continually working on engaging farmers that could possibly create a mutual benefit through getting them involved as producers of crickets and growing the base of the industry.
Taking on another role as advocates for the insect food industry as a whole Bugeater has paired with entomologist, climber, and founder of Bug Vivant, Meghan Curry. The collaboration to generate awareness is centered around #Bugwall .Curry plans to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park over the course of 2 weeks eating nothing but insect based food products. Bugwall is also has a crowdfunding campaign that depending on your generosity could score you some sweet samples!
Bugeater Foods has has taken the road less traveled, and is now aiming to pave the way. If you’re still unsure about eating bugs keep an eye out for their new products including possibly a season Pumpkin Jump. Or grab a box of your own now!