While studying for a graduate degree in nutrition at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, Idahoan Kate Stoddard came across a nugget of information that would change her life—and the food on her plate—for good.
"I had a project on iron deficiency anemia, and I just kind of randomly dug up all of this science and research about eating insects, and in particular a tribe in Africa that has never battled iron deficiency anemia, and yet they're kind of hunter-gatherer folks that don't eat meat at all," said Stoddard. Delving deeper into the tribe's culture and habits, she found the answer to their immunity: They regularly chow down on bugs.
"Sure enough, they have this local caterpillar that gets the job done. It's really shelf-stable, so they dehydrate it and make these cakes. And I was just thinking, 'God, that is such an easy fix,'" she said.
- Kate Stoddard
- Orchestra Provisions uses cricket powder in its spice blends.
That research, combined with a 2013 United Nations report advocating eating insects as a solution to world hunger, led Stoddard to start her own company with the goal of easing Americans into eating bugs. Called "Orchestra Provisions" after the name for a group of crickets, the company sells spice blends spiked with protein-rich cricket powder sourced from Cowboy Cricket Farms in Belgrade, Montana.
"Nobody in the marketplace was making a spice mix, which I thought was like a no-brainer, because if you're trying to get people into it, it's hard to just throw a whole cricket at someone, into their food, and have them be pretty pumped about it. But if you could make it so that people didn't see it, or taste it, or smell it, they might become more open to it," Stoddard said.
She calls her method "the baby steps approach." Right now, Orchestra Provisions sells eight spice mixes—Cajun-wings, chai-spice, curry powder, Himalayan sea-salt, pico-grillo, Sichuan cracked pepper, togarashi and za'atar—through its website, orchestraprovisions.com, and at small grocery stores in Idaho and Montana. Several restaurants use the blends, too, and Stoddard said Roots Zero Waste Market in Garden City plans to stock them in bulk.
Stoddard's business is only eight months old, and she still makes the blends herself out of the kitchen in Oddfellows' Bakery. Still, she has her eye on a bright, bug-filled future. After learning about ecoBalance Farms in Hagerman, the first cricket farm in Idaho to raise the insects for human consumption, Stoddard said she's optimistic about someday sourcing crickets in Salmon, making her product even more local and sustainable. Demand appears to be on the rise, too.
"I talked to my supplier and he said, 'Well, right now we're just having a hard time providing enough product, because we're having people order 100 pounds, 200 pounds at a time,'" she said. Asked if she sees a full-on movement toward eating bugs in the U.S., Stoddard didn't hesitate: "I know it's happening."