Can crickets be the new beef?

Apr 24, 2015

As the world strives to feed its growing population, some have suggested insects could be an environmentally friendly alternative protein source for people. However, research by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources experts on crickets found they don't have the potential to add much protein to the diet after all, reported Mandy Oaklander on

For the study, published in the journal PLOS One, the researchers raised crickets on five different diets - corn, soy, grain, food waste and crop residue. They measured the crickets' size and how much edible protein they produced.

“I think the sustainability claims on this topic have been overstated given the current state of knowledge,” wrote UC ANR Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor Mark Lundy in an e-mail to Time. “I'm all for exploring alternatives, and I am impressed by the amount of innovation that has sprung up around insect cultivation and cuisine in the last few years. However, I also think we need to be clear-eyed about what the sustainability gains are and aren't, and focus our innovative efforts and limited resources to where they will have the most lasting impact.”

Lundy conducted the research and published the results with horticultural entomologist Michael Parrella, a professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The story generated a great deal of news media coverage, including:

The environmental benefits of eating crickets vs. chicken: It's complicated
Brooke Borel, Popular Science, April 22

Humans Are Ready For Protein-Rich Crickets, But Are Crickets Ready For Us?
Rex Macadangdang, Tech Times, April 19

Crickets can't replace Meat in Human Diet: Study
Luis Georg, Perfect Science, April 18

Turns out, crickets may not be the solution to all of our problems
Lindsay Abrams, Salon, April 17

Crickets aren't ready to replace meat
Pat Bailey,, April 17

Crickets aren't the miracle source of protein
Kathy Keatley Garvey,, April 16

Crickets Aren't the Superfood They're Cracked Up to Be
Alissa Walker,, April 16

Maybe crickets aren't the food of the future, after all 
Alexis Madrigal,, April 16

Crickets Alone Will Not Save You, Futurist Foodies Robbie Gonzalez, i09/We Come From the Future, April 20

Crickets Are Not a Free Lunch
Entomology Today, April 15

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist