Yesenia Gallardo: Save the planet, eat an insect

By Stefanie Knowlton, November 27, 2016

yeseniaWhile crickets, grubs and insect eggs might not top your list of snack foods, they pop up in cuisine around the world, and they just might be the key to a greener planet.

“It just makes a lot of sense,” said Yesenia Gallardo, a TEDxSalem speaker, environmentalist and insect entrepreneur.

“The sustainability and the nutrition is there.”

Insects are energy efficient, so they convert whatever they eat to mass much more quickly, she said. For example, it takes two pounds of feed to get one pound of food from insects compared to 25 pounds of feed for one pound of beef, she said. There are similar savings in water and land.

Gallardo understands that insects aren’t for everyone. For those willing to try, it seems that crickets are the easiest to stomach.

“I don’t think they’re the most delicious insect out there,” she said. “They are the gateway bug.”

An even easier sell might be sampling powdered insects, which are added to energy bars, chips, cookies and other snack foods.

Eating insects wasn’t a gastronomic stretch for Gallardo, a Salem native. She spent her summers in Oaxaca, Mexico, and many of the region’s dishes include insects. One popular dip, made with ant eggs, tastes like bacon-flavored mushrooms, she said.

She used to raise crickets in an indoor micro-farm. She sold her tiny, tiny livestock to food manufacturers, but it was too hard to climate control the space.

Now the Yale University graduate is working a different angle: cricket poop. Not for food, but for fertilizer. It’s a renewable resource that doesn’t deplete natural ones straining under the demand for soil amendments.

“It has so much potential,” she said.

Get your tickets for TEDxSalem IV

Tickets are on sale now for Salem’s annual TEDx event Saturday, January 7, 2017. Tickets are $50, $40 for students. The all-day event includes talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at