Fulltime HEL: Episode 13 - EntoCube
I’ve eaten a lot of animals in my lifetime and that’s not just in volume. The range of animals I’ve eaten run the gamut that is the food chain, clearly establishing me at the top. And yes I know it’s a whole circle of life thing, but hakuna matata.
Bear, crocodile, shark, snake, buffalo, boar, moose, elk, deer, reindeer — you get the idea. I’ve eaten a range of animals and even some not so normal things like spiders, ants and other insects. Some were more delicious than others, buffalo in particular is a favorite. But there is one startup whose looking to change what we eat.
But before that…
Welcome to episode 13 of Fulltime HEL, the podcast about startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and co-working spaces in Helsinki, Finland. I’m your host Gregory Pellechi.
On this episode, EntoCube, casting crickets as the world’s protein source –and all in a nice little box. But box doesn’t actually describe what EntoCube does. The name should give you some clue, but it’s best if they explain it.
A shipping container full of insects tends to be the last thing anyone wants to hear about. That many bugs in an enclosed space tends to mean you’re either on an episode of Fear Factor, yes I’m referencing an old game show, or you’re in the midst of an Indiana Jones style adventure. If you’re not in either of those situations then you may just be open to hearing what the EntoCube team has to say.
The team behind EntoCube have some grand ideas for their little bug in a box project. But before you know about that, you need a better idea of how the box works.
So cube plus crickets equals farm, a very scalable farm that can be readily moved and fit just about anywhere. The only inputs — food and electricity. The former for the crickets, the latter to keep the cube at the right temperature for the crickets. Which is really the only downside to the EntoCube for deployment to developing countries. But it’s an aspect that the company is working to resolve.
Whether it’s through solar cells or another method like reducing the energy inputs EntoCube is solving a physical problem. The more difficult problem they need to overcome is a social one. Not everyone wants to eat insects. Be it for religious, psychological, social or other reasons or sheer ick-factor, overcoming any qualms about eating bugs can be hard. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but look at how many inventions have failed to be adopted. The electric car, the segway, Esperanto.
Since I know you have them, here’s all those answers to your questions about eating crickets.
My experience with insects and spiders has been in Asia where they’re often fried and paired with a variety of seasonings. Fried tarantulas were surprisingly good, and really should only be eaten whole. Don’t mess around treating it like a crab and cracking it open, just put them some lime-pepper sauce on it. If nothing else, it tastes like a fried potato skin. If you really wanted to you could always put some cheese and bacon on it.
Other snacks worked well in curries — ants in particular. Crickets of course are super versatile, so go crazy. I know this may sound like a pipe dream for some futurist utopia, or dystopia in the case of Snowpiercer, but EntoCube do have this idea really well thought out.
It’ll be interesting to see how EntoCube develops, how and if it’s adopted. And what more of the world makes of eating crickets, or the local alternative. I won’t be adding cricket to my diet anytime soon, in part because of Finland’s legislation regarding eating it. I’ll have to see if I can get cricket protein powder. But until then I’m still going to enjoy more traditional forms of protein — namely bacon. Cause nothing can replace bacon.
On the next episode of Fulltime HEL, Launchpad USA. AmCham’s solution for succeeding in the US.
Fulltime HEL was produced by me, Gregory Pellechi. Music for the show is courtesy of Chris Zabriskie.