Notes from the Bug Revolution

Jack Ceadel, Co-Founder & CEO. Hopper Foods
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Starting a business is never easy, but when your business model is based upon changing an entire food culture you have a few extra challenges. The funny thing is that actually convincing people to eat bugs is not the hard part − the hard part is convincing skeptics that you are able to get people to eat bugs. Is this just a passing fad or is America really ready to embrace entomophagy (eating insects)?

I think the answer is a resounding yes, and I believe that in the coming years edible insects can play an important role in beneficially redesigning our food systems and planning our urban environments. In the future, I think we will see urban insect farms taking food waste directly from restaurants and homes and rapidly recycling this back as high-quality protein and fat with marginal environmental impact. The frass (excrement) from these farms are blended with the unsuitable organic waste to make high-grade compost for urban farms.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself. Right now, we’re just educating people about the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating insects (more detail here:  http://www.hopperatx.com/why-eat-insects/) and launching our first product into retail: Hopper Crunch. Hopper Crunch is a delicious Paleo granola (free of grain, gluten, soy and refined sugar) made with cricket flour. The cricket flour, made from crickets farmed in Austin especially for human consumption, makes Hopper Crunch granola rich in protein, iron, magnesium, omegas and B vitamins. It packs considerably more nutritional punch than what sits next to it on the grocery shelf.

Bootstrapping a business like Hopper Foods is like solving a complex puzzle (i.e. a lot of fun).  You overcome one challenge and then the next one appears - you always have to be thinking four or five steps ahead.  We’re working with new, cutting-edge ingredients, new processes and new ideas. Sometimes, the pieces of the puzzle that would usually fit together easily if you were making something conventional are that much harder to get into place. For example, finding a co-manufacturing facility has been  challenging because many people are risk averse in bringing an innovative ingredient like cricket flour into their facility. This limits one’s options, but it also binds your supply chain together since you know that your partners share your vision and values.

Food is ultimately about trust. Preparing and sharing food is the foundation of civilization. As supply chains have become extended, we have become distended. The separation of people from the sources of their food has created many undesirable externalities: cruelty, pollution and mismanagement of water resources.

At Hopper Foods, we get out of bed every day excited about working to fix these issues, and we’re very happy to have a resource like the UT Food Lab at our disposal. Through Robyn and her team, we have made, and continue to make, excellent connections from industry and academia, and look forward to working together to build Austin into the unquestioned food innovation capital of the U.S.

Jack Ceadel, Co-Founder & CEO. Hopper Foods

You can find out more about Hopper Foods and purchase Hopper Crunch and learn how you can be part of the bug revolution at www.hopperatx.com.