Tasting Crickets in Search of Solutions

Posted: October 23, 2016

Penn State alumnus and representative of Thought For Food Jared Yarnall-Schane shared some foods likely to turn up on our dinner plates with folks who are curious about what we'll all be eating as global population rises.
Penn State alumnus and representative of Thought For Food Jared Yarnall-Schane shared foods made with crickets and soy with folks who are curious about what we'll eat in the future to during

Penn State alumnus and representative of Thought For Food Jared Yarnall-Schane shared foods made with crickets and soy with folks who are curious about what we'll eat in the future to during

Will crickets and soy-based nutrition become our meal mainstays?

Penn State alumnus and representative of Thought For Food Jared Yarnall-Schane introduced some foods we may all be eating in the future at a special, forward-looking dinner. The event was held Thursday evening, Oct. 13 in State College.

Global population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100, according to the United Nations.

How will we feed everyone, when we don’t right now? The mission of Thought For Food is to spark solutions.

Yarnall-Schane led the tasting and discussion during the Food of the Future event. Sponsors included Co-Space, the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Thought For Food.

Thought For Food is a network of advocates working to end hunger, as 800 million people are undernourished.

“To pull this off, we must reimagine how we’ll solve the challenges of food security. At Thought For Food, we believe it begins with surprising yet innovative ideas,” according to the network website,

A gathering of engineers, food scientists, biologists, and artists tasted a vegetarian taco salad featuring Beyond Beef, which is a plant-based protein that has all of the same texture and sensory qualities of ground beef. Attendees then tasted pasta with a choice of Mealworm Sauce or Cricket Sauce. There was also “Cow” Sauce offered for comparison. Finally, they shared Just Cookies, a vegan product, and Soylent, a soy-based meal replacement beverage, for dessert.

The Co-Space residents prepared the nutritious meal from sustainably sourced ingredients.

Ashley Walters, a senior majoring in food science and minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation, attended the event and shared this impression:

“Beyond Beef from the brand Beyond Meat lived up to the expectations. The protein had the same moist crumbly texture as ground beef. With just a little bit of seasoning we couldn’t tell the difference.

People curious and concerned about what we'll all eat as global population climbs sampled foods like these cookies at an October event in State College.

The mealworm sauce from One Hop Kitchens surpassed expectations! It was tangy, sweet, and full of flavor. Jared explained how this product is processed similarly to tofu, so the spaghetti sauce contains extracted proteins rather than the whole “bug.”  He also bragged that in a blind taste test critically acclaimed chefs have mistaken it for gourmet bolognese sauce.

The cricket spaghetti sauce from One Hop Kitchen ( was a little harder for people to accept. Some appreciated the flavor, but I found it had an unexpected crunch that reminded me of the bugs in my mouth.

Just Cookie from Hampton Creek satisfied everyone’s sweet tooth after dinner. The chocolate chip cookie is a great option for vegans and carnivores alike because of Hampton Creek’s wholesome mantra. This simple cookie also facilitated educational conversation at the table about sustainability in the food industry and ongoing synthetic biology projects.

Soylent’s ( drink was a thick milky beverage. It was definitely not intended to have cookies dunked into it; it was intended to be a full meal replacement with nutrients to sustain a full day of activities. For this reason most of us just had a small sample and that was enough for us to realize how dense and nutrient-packed it is.”

McKenzie Gary, a food science major, shared these impressions:

“This was my second encounter with One Hop Kitchen. I had met Lee Cadesky, the founder of One Hop Kitchen and tasted their products this past summer at the Food Loves Tech Expo in New York. I think that the meal worm and cricket pasta sauces were great. I enjoyed eating them and if someone can summon the courage to try them, they would be in for a surprisingly pleasant experience. I enjoyed the sauces the second time just as much as the first time I had the sauces which tells me that not only are the products good to eat, but they are consistent too. The format of a pasta sauce is a clever way to introduce crickets and mealworms into the American diet. In a survey done by Mintel in January 2015 about household purchases of pasta, rice, noodles, and grains, Mintel states that 82 percent of consumers 18+ have purchased dried pasta for their households. Since so many people buy pasta in America, and since a large amount of that pasta needs sauce, I believe that cricket/mealworm pasta sauces have the potential to have a high household penetration. Although I believe that the cricket and mealworm sauces have a bright future, I was most drawn to the cricket ice cream that One Hop Kitchen had on display at Food Loves Tech.

I thought that the beyond beef was good. Overall I thought it was less intimidating to think about and eat extracted proteins from plants that were recombined into a meat-like product than to eat crickets. I'd be interested in trying different beyond meat products and comparing them/cooking with them.

Desert was fantastic. I've read and heard a lot about Hampton Creek products but this was my first experience eating one. A great-tasting cookie.

I had never heard of Soylent before my meal at the Food of the Future event. I enjoyed trying it. The drink was a good consistency, went down easily and I thought the taste was pretty good as meal replacement.”