Pat seemed nice enough, but there was no way I was going to eat insects, nor was I interested in his reasons to do so. I assumed his TEDxJacksonHole talk was just going to be the cliche of trying something new.
Preparing for my own TEDxJacksonHole talk, I met Pat for the second time at the dress rehearsal. I’m willing to give anyone a chance, so I listened to his rehearsal with skeptical ears. It turns out that his talk wasn’t just about eating insects and trying something new (at least new to the U.S., the rest of the world eats insects all the time). The talk went into great detail about why the Colorado River doesn’t flow to the Sea of Cortez anymore, an angle I wasn’t expecting. He made compelling arguments about our habitual consumption and why our freshwater is in grave danger if we don’t start making changes in what we eat, namely, insects.
Why insects? Many people hear about the importance of saving water by taking shorter showers, not flushing as much, etc. While it’s certainly a worthwhile effort, this only accounts for about 5% of the water used from the Colorado River. Agriculture actually consumes about 80% of the river before it ever even reaches Mexico, leaving it bone dry where there used to be lush wetlands in a fragile desert environment. Most of this is for cattle, an animal that evolved in Europe where water is much more readily available. As a result, they drink significantly more water than the arid southwest was ever meant to provide. In fact, a single hamburger requires a staggering 634 gallons of water, the full cow needing as much as 11,000 gallons of water! And for some reason we have these animals grazing all over the desert southwest. In addition, cattle consume significantly more grass than bison, the latter being our native meat source.
This is where insects come in. For a beef cow, 100 gallons of water will yield a meager six grams of protein. From the same amount of water, crickets will yield 71 grams! They’re not only healthier for humans, but healthier for the land, both public and private. Pat recognized this and created a company called Chapul to produce them into something he knew people would (literally) eat up: energy bars.
Obviously nobody wants to eat an energy bar that has legs and antennae poking out of it, so Pat and his team grind the crickets down to a very fine flour. The result is an extremely nutritious bar that tastes amazing and is helping the Colorado River once again reach the ocean. I became a huge fan of the bars right away and was ecstatic when Pat agreed to help us out on our thru-hike of the Arizona Trail, which made Chapul an official sponsor.
For more information and detailed data, head over to the Chapul website, or watch Pat’s talk below.