This Earth Day, Put Bugs in Your Kid’s Lunch
By Heather Alexander, author of Project Startup: Eat Bugs
The Children’s Book Review
Do you and your kids want to save the planet? Eat bugs! Seriously . . . bugs.
Hear me out, because writing a middle-grade book series about cricket chips (it’s about entrepreneurship and friendship, too) opened my eyes and my taste buds.
First, the facts. Scientists and environmentalists agree that swapping burgers for bugs is a powerful step toward controlling climate change. Here’s why:
- Insects are one of the most sustainable protein sources. Pound-for-pound, crickets pack a protein punch about two to three times higher than cows! They also contain essential amino acids and are high in iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12.
- Pound for pound, crickets use 1000 times less water and 100 times less land than cows. Unlike cows, insects don’t require large pastures to graze. They can be raised in buildings in cities.
- Agriculture is a direct threat to 86% of the 28,000 species most at risk of extinction.
- Almost one-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from grazing livestock. Cows create 100 times more greenhouse gas emissions than crickets. (Basically, cows fart and crickets don’t.)
- The global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. (We’re at around 7 billion now.) According to U.N. reports, agricultural production worldwide will have to increase by 70% to feed all those folks. Even if we had enough cows, Earth doesn’t have the room or the resources to raise them. Insects will prevent your grandchildren and great-grandchildren from going hungry. That’s something to think about.
Did you know 2 billion people, mostly in Africa, South and Central America, and Asia, already eat insects? Not surprisingly, it’s American and European adults who resist. I had the “ick factor” too, until I was introduced to cricket powder. It’s made from finely-ground roasted crickets and used to bake chips, cookies, pancakes, and just about anything else. The key—at least for me—is you can’t see the actual crickets. My new favorite party trick (pre-pandemic when people gathered, that is) is to serve two bowls of tortilla chips and have the taster choose which chips were made with crickets (hint: they have a slightly nutty flavor).
Every kid I offer a cricket chip to happily tries it. The younger they are, the less hesitation. The learned “ick factor” has not yet set in. But adults can be adaptable creatures. A generation ago, eating raw fish would’ve raised eyebrows. Today there’s a sushi bar in every town. Change (and bugs) are coming.
Today’s kids will lead the insect food revolution, and EAT BUGS: PROJECTS STARTUP celebrates their ingenuity and open minds. It’s a story of two twelve-year-old girls who, striving to protect the planet, decide to build an edible bug business. But how can they convince their friends and neighbors to open their minds and mouths to something new? The book is based on the true story of two amazing female entrepreneurs who co-founded a company that makes foods out of cricket powder. I took their journey and friendship–and reimagined it as if they met in sixth grade.
So, this year, as part of your Earth Day celebration, I encourage you and your kids to taste of the food of the future. Bug appétit!
To learn more and for an Educator’s Guide, visit heatheralexanderbooks.com
About the Book
Publisher’s Synopsis: Inspired by the true story of two friends who landed a deal on Shark Tank. Sixth-grade students-turned-entrepreneurs are on a mission to save the world, one bug at a time!
Hallie and Jaye are both sixth graders at Brookdale Middle School, but they couldn’t be more different. Jaye is one of the popular kids who’ll do almost anything to maintain her status. Hallie’s only friend has moved away, and she couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of her. So when the two girls are paired up as partners for a pitch competition held by their Business Education and Entrepreneurship class, it’s not exactly a perfect match. After all, Jaye doesn’t want to be seen with the kid who was dubbed “Bug Girl” after eating a fried cricket during a class trip to the zoo!
But the pair are stuck together, and soon enough Jaye is also stuck with Hallie’s idea: finding creative ways to sell bugs as food. Jaye’s not thrilled but is willing to give it a shot, since winners get to compete in the county competition, potentially followed by states and nationals. And Jaye wants to win.
As the competition heats up, can Hallie and Jaye make the judges say “Bug appétit!” or will they only hear crickets?
Based on the true story of a sustainable protein start-up company, this illustrated novel is a reimagining for a middle-grade reader. Chirps founders Rose Wang and Laura D’Asaro met as freshmen at Harvard University and cooked up the concept of selling chips made with cricket flour to help Americans feel more comfortable eating bugs. Together, Rose and Laura appeared on the TV show Shark Tank to pitch their idea and landed a deal with Mark Cuban. Chirps chips are now sold in stores across the nation.
Buy the Book
About Heather Alexander
Heather Alexander is the author of numerous books for children, both fiction and nonfiction. Her fiction series include Wallace and Grace Take the Case and The Amazing Stardust Friends, and her nonfiction series include Life of Earth and A Child’s Introduction to . . . The former editorial director of Parachute Press, Heather has edited over 100 children’s fiction series, including the best-selling Goosebumps. She currently works as a children’s book editor and lives in Los Angeles. Learn more about Heather at her website: heatheralexanderbooks.com.
Enter for a chance to win a copy of Project Startup: Eat Bugs and a packet of cricket chips!
One (1) winner receives:
- A hardcover copy of Project Startup: Eat Bugs
- A packet of Chirps cricket chips
How to Enter
- Fill out the required fields in the form below. It may take a moment to load.
- You can also gain daily bonus entries through the entry form.
- See below for complete giveaway rules.
The giveaway begins April 22, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends May 22, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.a Rafflecopter giveaway
- NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER TO WIN.
- Complete and submit the entry form pursuant to the on-screen instructions listed here.
- Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on April 22, 2021, and 11:59 PM on May 22, 2021.
- One (1) winner receives:
- A hardcover copy of Project Startup: Eat Bugs
- A packet of Chirps cricket chips
- Winners will be selected at random on or about May 24, 2021. The odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received.
- Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are eighteen years of age or older in their state or territory of residence at the time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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This article, This Earth Day, Put Bugs in Your Kid’s Lunch, was written by Heather Alexander, author of Project Startup: Eat Bugs. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Books About Crickets, Books for Earth Day, Entrepreneurial Books, and Illustrated Chapter Books.