Aly Moore: all the bugs you can eat

“Scorpions have great flavor,” says Aly Moore ’14. Dehydrate them, “and they taste like salmon jerky.”

Jim Newberry for Rewire.org

Jim Newberry for Rewire.org

They’re crunchy. They’re nutritious. They have “out-of-this-world flavor profiles.” Aly Moore ’14 would like you to consider bugs for dinner. View full image

After a few minutes of conversation with Aly Moore ’14, eating insects sounds eminently sensible. At least two billion of the world’s people regularly consume bugs, it turns out. And not so long ago in the United States, eating raw fish was considered gross; now even the local supermarket has a sushi counter.

Moore ate her first bugs as a Yale undergraduate, while she was working in public health in a town in Mexico. Taco stands were the local fine-dining spots, and her favorite filling proved to be the nutty-tasting fried chipulines (grasshoppers). “My first thought was: how can I bring them back home to my friends and scare them!” she says. “But that’s how I stumbled through the rabbit hole and found the small but burgeoning world of edible insects in the US.”  

Her website and blog, Bugible.com, grew from those tacos. She’s since progressed to brand building and public relations, as well as hosting events—such as wine-and-insect tastings. Bugs, originally her sideline, are slowly taking over her life.

Moore had thought she’d be a doctor, but decided she would rather address “systemic issues that were causing people to become ill in the first place.” She sees promotion of edible insects as one of the ways to help solve the problem of feeding an ever more crowded world without draining its natural resources. Consider crickets. They have half the protein of beef and more calcium than milk. They’re low in fat and full of amino acids. By one estimate, a kilogram of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water; a kilogram of crickets, just one.

Um, and the ick factor? “Meal worms taste more like croutons than anything else,” Moore insists. She loves scorpions. “They’re land lobsters. They’re arthropods. We’re totally fine eating lobsters, and they’re just bottom feeders that look pretty darn creepy. Scorpions have really great flavor, and you can dehydrate them and they taste like salmon jerky.”

One of Europe’s most famous restaurants, Noma, has used bugs in some dishes. Moore attributes that culinary choice to the “out-of-this-world flavor profiles” of creepy, crawly things. But if chomping on whole bugs is just too much for you, she says, no worries; there are flours made of roasted, ground bugs. Think of a power bar, pasta, or cookies with insect-grade nutrition, yet blessedly free of crunchy little legs.

“I think now I probably have one of North America’s largest private collections of edible insects,” says the young entrepreneur. For Moore, bugs are the ideal mission. They not only promote human and environmental health, but also satisfy her sense of adventure and love of all things quirky. They’re a cause. And they’re “this really cool marketing thing—it’s not that big yet, it’s different, and it’s out of people’s comfort zones.” She’s comfortable with that.

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