On the whole, people are still pretty wary about eating bugs. They might try the occasional cricket tortilla chip or scoop of protein powder, but overall, consumers — at least Western ones — are a little creeped out by munching on insects.
One company pitching at our upcoming SKS Future Food competition is trying to make an easy way for people to incorporate bugs into their diet. Orchestra Provisions makes a line of spices, such as curry powder and za’atar, which are blended with cricket powder. We spoke with founder Kate Stoddard about why she decided spice blends were the way to get people to eat more insects. If you want to see her pitch live (and taste the buggy blends for yourself), be sure to get your ticket to SKS in Seattle this October!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
First thing’s first: Give us your 15-second elevator pitch
The concept of entomophagy provides a biodiverse superfood that has the capacity to feed billions sustainably. This unique product line introduces a culture that harbors aversion to eating insects to bugs in an approachable way that changes little about the culinary process. Orchestra provisions’ spice line is used just the same as regular spices, but is based off of a cricket powder boasting 2.5 grams of protein per serving! One cannot see, taste or smell the crickets in these gourmet mixes. Gram to gram, crickets have more protein than beef, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach. Crickets are also a great source of prebiotic fiber and taste like sunflower seeds. Requiring a fraction of the land, feed and water compared to beef or pork, crickets also emit very few greenhouse gases. Bonus: their waste is yet another useful product; garden fertilizer called “frass”. Orchestra is involved currently in the R&D phase of formulating a protein powder that will easily substitute in for less sustainable protein sources.
What inspired you to start Orchestra Provisions?
I am inspired by the way food culture and nutrition shape our ecosystems. Humans are destroying the very land that sustains them and I want to be a part of finding solutions that restore balance and harmony.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of getting a food startup off the ground?
Too many to list, but this may be yet another source of inspiration. To be brief, the top two challenges: The psychology of aversion to entomophagy and creating a market for more sustainable and responsible foods.
How will Orchestra Provisions change the day-to-day life of consumers and the food space as a whole?
The positive impacts of entomophagy are immeasurable and vast. One intent is to conserve more wild lands to preserve native and wild ecosystems where future generations can learn, observe and be in nature. Another goal is to feed the mouths we have managed to bring onto the planet without destroying it. Perhaps the most important vision is to integrate insects into the western diet by proving them as a gourmet experience that is anything but new to human history. With all of these sustainability goals, the day to day adjustments should be seamless, changing little about the way consumers buy and prepare meals. This is why my product line overcomes aversion, because it integrates into people’s busy lives efficiently and effectively.