Here’s how this little creature, once the cause of famine, could be the fix for world hunger

This little creature played its starring role in history in the Book of Exodus as one of the ten plagues of Egypt. They devoured what little the Egyptians had left after the hailstorm, and they’ve been wiping out crops and creating famine down through the ages.

When they weren’t destroying our food, however, these little creatures have also been a source of food for humans. And looking into the future — according to Megan Miller, one of the masterminds headlining this year’s Brain Bar Budapest — insects like this will become “a completely mainstream food for most people.”

Miller’s idea sounds a little nuts at first blush. But if you hear her out, it’s that kind of crazy that just might make sense in the end.

You’ve likely heard the debate about sustainable food production. Many say we need to turn to food that we can produce more sustainably. Forget about meat, they say, because we can’t go on with food that requires so many resources to raise or grow. By the middle of this century, the earth’s population will increase by another 2 billion people, and certain experts argue that we won’t have food resources to feed everyone.

“We are facing a global food crisis,” says Miller. “And our current agricultural production will not scale to feed 9+ billion people.”

That’s where our little, six-legged friends come in. “There are 2,000 different species of insects that can be eaten and are eaten by humans around the world,” Miller says, and they are a highly sustainable form of protein. They require very little land, obviously, and very little water. “Insects,” she argues, “are in fact the most efficient form of protein on planet Earth.”

Yes, the solution is bugs. Miller understands that the thought of eating insects may be a little too much for people to, well, stomach, so she has come up with something a little more palatable, as it were. She’s not using locusts, but it’s close relative, the cricket, and her company, Bitty Foods, turns those chirping little critters into a rich flour, high in protein and healthy fats that they use in baked goods and mixes.

Chocolate chip cricket

“My vision is that we’re going to boost the protein content of all the staple foods that we eat,” she says. “And we’re going to need a really sustainable and plentiful protein source to do that with.”

On the lineup for the 2017 Brain Bar Budapest — 18 of this year’s masterminds have already been announced — Miller is a great example of what makes those featured at Europe’s biggest festival on the future so refreshingly strange and creative. Those who appear at Brain Bar Budapest think differently. They look at a problem and they come up with something totally outside the box, and that’s what sets this festival lineup apart. Grappling with the future, they are thinkers, creators, innovators, doers who come along and challenge the status quo with something that shatters our previous notions about the way we solve a specific problem, get something done, move about, live, and eat.

The masterminds featured at Brain Bar Budapest look at an intractable challenge and they come up with…cricket flour.

They’re all pushing the envelope with something that’s guaranteed to shake up the way you see the world. Find out about the rest of the lineup here, and watch this space for special announcements about other surprises — some 40 other speakers — we have in store.

More than seven thousand people will attend this year’s Brain Bar Budapest. Discount tickets are available here.

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