I'm always on the hunt for the latest food trends— whether it be the next celebrity-endorsed diet, the most recent bizarre food combinations, or... eating bugs? I've reached out to my cousin, Julianne Kopf,  a co-founder of Bugeater Foods, to get the scoop on their protein powder made from crickets. Although it sounds obscure, I predict this food trend is here to stay.

Because I have very little knowledge of insects, I left it up to Julianne to explain the art of bug-eating:

1. Can you give me the gist of Bugeater Foods and the products that you're selling?

Bugeater Foods is a two-year-old company selling all-natural and complete protein powder shakes. All you have to do is add water/milk to the shake mix. We're currently selling our products at Hy-Vee's (like a Walmart) and Lucky Vitamin, but hoping to expand in the future.

2. Where did the names "Bugeater" and "Jump" come from?

"Bugeater Foods" is the name of our company and "Jump" is the name of our protein shakes, just to be clear. At first, we didn't know what to call our company. However, I studied food studies and technology at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and— although their mascot is currently the Cornhuskers—UNL's mascot used to be the Bugeaters in the late 1800's. We couldn't think of a more fitting name.

As for Jump, we really wanted to allude to the use of crickets, while also promoting the concept of aerobic activity. These products are meant for young, health-conscious people, endurance athletes, environmentalists— basically people who shop at Whole Foods. Jump represents this range of demographics.

3. What's unique about the products you're selling?

Other companies have sold pure cricket powder, but Jump is the first original protein powder mix (meaning it contains other ingredients). We're experimenting with pasta and rice products (composed of 20% crickets and 80% rice flour). If we start to sell these products, there will only be two other companies (in Europe and Thailand) with similar products.

caraway, herb, cumin
Isabel Burton

4. What's your role in the company/ what incentivised your involvement in Bugeater Foods?

Isabel Burton

As a prior food studies major working in a product development lab at UNL, I became interested in insects as a nutritious and sustainable food option.

While I was working in the lab, the two other co-founders of Bugeater Foods came to me with the idea of creating a meal replacement shake. Soon after, we figured out that demand is higher for a regular protein shake, so we moved in that direction.

5. Are you planning on making other products in the future?

We currently sell the protein shakes in chocolate and coffee, but we're hoping to come out with more flavors. Products like granola bars are already so saturated in the market, so we're probably going to stick to our protein shakes!

wine, coffee, beer, pizza
Isabel Burton

We also have a $1,000 USD grant to do research on insects (using tasting trials). At some point we'd like to sell out of more stores as well (i.e. Whole Foods), but lots of stores have such high mark-up on their prices that it wouldn't be worth it at this point in time.

6. The question everyone's dying to know: Why crickets? Why insects in general? Are crickets the future of protein?

In terms of insects, crickets have the most potential infrastructure (can be produced in large quantities). They're made up of 60% protein with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. We're also experimenting with meal worms, which aren't as high in protein but contain higher levels of fat.

Insects are a feasible protein alternative and solution to feeding a growing population. Utilizing insects is a step in the right direction for sustainable food culture. We obviously can't live solely off of crickets— seeds, veggies, etc. should be incorporated into people's diets as well— but this is a great place to start.

You can order Jump protein shakes and visit Bugeater Foods here.