“I absolutely love insects,” declares Yoon, the director of the executive office at Brooklyn Bugs, an organization promoting eating insects. “The fact that they are so diverse, the fact that there are so many species of insects, the fact that we rely so heavily on insects for our own ecosystem and biodiversity is absolutely fascinating.”

There are over 2,100 varieties of edible bugs around the globe. According to Yoon, they are available in different tastes, including fruity, nutty, cheesy, and coconut. “I’m trying to present people with this wonderful cornucopia of flavors, textures, and ideas of how to cook with edible insects.”

A sustainable protein source

Insects are regularly consumed by around two billion individuals, per a 2012 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The report states that disgust is related to eating insects in most Western countries.

Food security for the entire world is becoming increasingly challenging. Oceans are in short supply, and land is overfished. Yet, as per the FAO report, food production will have to nearly double to accommodate those 9 billion individuals predicted to inhabit the Earth in 2050.

Bamboo has been utilized for thousands of years throughout Asia. It is now possible to tackle the sustainability issue of construction.

The food industry is also impacting the natural environment. Recent studies indicate that livestock production produces approximately 14-17 percent of greenhouse gas artificial emissions.

Crickets require six times less food than cattle and four times less feed than sheep, and only half the amount needed by broiler chickens and pigs to make the same amount of protein, as per the FAO. Consuming insect food rich in protein could offer an affordable solution, provided that Western attitudes toward them shift from “ew” to “yum.”

To reduce the environmental impacts of our food practices, Yoon wants “to normalize edible insects around the world, particularly right here where I live in America.”

Mac and cheese, Crickets

Even for those who would like to give it a shot, it’s not always clear how to include insects in their diet.

“When people ask me how they should integrate crickets or insects into their food, one of the favorite ways I like to do it is simply in my favorite foods,” Yoon declares. “You do not have to think about creating an entirely new recipe using the new ingredient, but if you love cooking fried rice, as I do, I enjoy cooking fried rice that contains crickets. I like adding crickets to macaroni and cheese. It is possible to add powder of crickets into that cheese sauce.”

Joseph Yoon’s cicada stir fry.

Brooklyn Bugs

He is following in the footsteps of many other insect innovators trying to transform Western views.

The first to adopt the concept was in 2012. American businessman Patrick Crowley introduced an insect-protein product to the United States, the Chapul Cricket energy bar. It was enriched with cricket flour. An edible insect farm, Next Millennium Farms, was launched in Canada in 2014.

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In 2019, 9 million people across Europe were eating insects and the products they produce, according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed. It predicts that number to be 390 million by 2030.

“When you think of insects – likely to be one of the tiniest creatures we have in mind … could just one insect be a factor? Could one person be able to contribute to the cause?” Yoon says. “One of the major reasons for my work is the fact that everyone of us is responsible. Included edible insects in your diet every week could make a huge impact.”