"Through combining cricket flour (slow roasted and milled crickets) with organic and all-natural ingredients such as raw cacao, dates, almond butter and coconut, we have created a bar that is high in protein, low in sugar, incredibly nutritionally dense, and packed with omega 3 fatty acids, iron and calcium," Exo says in a fund-raising pitch on the KickStarter website. (Kickstarter bills itself as a new way to fund creative projects.)
Two former Brown University students say they started Exo during their senior year when one of them couldn't find a snack that satisfied his high nutritional standards. (Greg Sewitz says he had just returned from a conference on climate change and resource scarcity at MIT hosted by the Dalai Lama, who suggested insects as a protein source.)
Their venture goes beyond food: In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Exo co-founder Gabi Lewis said the "very core" of their business "is trying to change the way people think about an untapped food source."
"Our mission is fundamentally a social one," he told Forbes, and if it succeeds, "it'll have an incredible impact on the world."
The fund-raising pitch describes insect protein as "the first viable solution to the global food crisis."
Exo says crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle, 4 times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and chickens to produce the same amount of protein. They're said to produce 80 times less methane than cattle, they reproduce faster, and they "barely require any water or space."
Not only are crickets high in protein, they also have more iron than beef and almost as much calcium as milk, Exo says.
"Our recipe has received phenomenal reviews at CrossFit gyms and on university campuses," the founders say.
Eating insects is not popular among North Americans, but people across Asia, Africa and South America do it routinely.
And for Exo, protein bars are just the beginning, Sewitz told Forbes: "We want to normalize entomophagy (the consumption of insects as food)."