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Starbucks colored their strawberry Frappuccinos with cochineal dye (also called Red 4) until vegetarians discovered the ingredient and mounted a campaign against its use. But when he asks the question, "Who has eaten a bug?" at the dozens of demonstrations he holds across the country a lot more hands go up compared to 1998 when his cookbook was published. His website still features whimsical novel recipes scorpion scaloppin and orthopteran orzo. But his cookbook no longer seems as odd as it did 14 years ago. "Now it's 'Oh, another bug book," Gordon said.

"A lot of people are pursuing this with great passion," he added, meaning entomophagy.

Others are more skeptical.

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Despite the media attention, Cochran said, his sales of insects for human consumption haven't budged.

When someone asks, "How sustainable are you?" Heylin said, they can either answer, 'I eat organic grass fed beef,' or they can counter with, 'Well, I eat bugs.'"

"That's all it is: 100 percent cricket," Heylin said about the cricket flour, the key ingredient in the power bars that he has based his company, named, appropriately, Chirp.

For the last batch of crickets, Heylin drove about an hour away to pick them up because the cost of mailing the shipment of 100,000 crickets would have been too pricey.

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be mailed and backyard foraging is discouraged because of pesticide use.)

For one thing, those "miracle creatures," as Heylin called them, are more expensive than beef or chicken because there is no mass production infrastructure for human insectivores yet.

The crickets 100,000 in all Nike Air Max Thea Dress

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"They're living creatures so you can't just put them in 5 8 day mail," Heylin said. (The USDA does not allow live insects to Nike Air Max Thea Premium Black

to making insect eating more than a novelty: the "ick" factor.Heylin is shopping the bars around to Bay Area markets, such as Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. He hopes to sign up enough stores that they can show investors Chirp is a good bet instead of a mad gamble. The goal is to be price competitive with Clif Bars, which sell for about $1.50. "Peer pressure is good for getting people to try bugs," Heylin said.

Raising high protein, vitamin rich insects instead of livestock would avoid many of the problems associated with feeding the additional three billion humans that are expected to populate the planet by 2050, according to entomophagy evangelists Arnold van Huis and Marcel Dicke. The two Dutch entomologists estimated the average person consumes about a pound of insects per year already. The FDA allows chocolate, peanut butter, orange juice and a host of other foods to contain anywhere from about a quarter to just over a cup of insect fragments. Many edibles, including Campari and candies contain a red dye extracted from the Cochineal beetle.

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Daniella Martin, who preaches insect eating on her blog, Girl Meets Bug, and in person at demos around the Bay Area, said reactions range from kids who wouldn't stop eating her sauteed larvae, sports nutrition Nike Air Max Tavas Black Metallic Pewter professionals who think it could be the next big thing, and folks who thought it was disgusting but often wanted to try it anyway. "After I explain why it makes sense it's eco friendly, nutritious, and globally and historically popular they tend to calm down and open their minds a little," she said. Yet even true believers concede there is a way to go before grasshoppers and mealy worms make their way into the mainstream American diet.

"It was like an eye opener. I just couldn't get it out of my head," said Heylin, a Canyon native whose father ran a business that supplied reusable wine bottles.

Insects make sense in the Bay Area's progressive eating bubble marked by adventurous diners who prize novelty but want to feel good about what they are eating.

had already been frozen and boiled, the latter to sanitize them and improve their taste. Once roasted, Heylin began scooping the brown long legged insects into a tabletop flour mill.

Chirp's future hinges on adventurous eaters like the mayor and the young company's fortunes could go either way.

OAKLAND The smell of roasting nuts filled the small kitchen of the Canyon Elementary School, where John Heylin stood watching as a batch of crickets roasted on an aluminum sheet inside a commercial oven. Slowly a nutty aroma began to fill the room in the small schoolhouse in Canyon, the eclectic enclave in incorporated Contra Costa County where the business is based.

Earlier in the month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tried one.

Heylin came up with the idea for Chirp originally called InFoods after watching a Ted talk by Marcel Dicke during the summer of 2011 titled, "Why not eat insects?" Heylin was still a business student at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco.

´╗┐based power bar producer Chirp makes crickets the main ingredient

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Dan Sung Sa, an Oakland Korean restaurant bar, adds silkworms to one of their soups. San Francisco based Don Bugito a "prehistoric snackeria," serves tacos filled with fried wax moth larvae from a roving food truck.

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For now most insects are sold to zoos, research labs and wildlife organizations.

Heylin said grinding up the crickets into flour eliminates the biggest barrier Air Max Thea Joli White

Crickets are 55 percent protein, making them an ideal substitute for soy protein. Chirp's motto is "Small food for a small planet."

To the cricket flour, he added flaxseed, oats, honey, sunflower seeds, apple and a little bit of cinnamon and cumin to round out the chewy bars whose texture and taste resembled sesame seeds.

"I don't think it will ever catch on in the United States," said Dale Cochran of Grub Co. Inc.

"It's discouraging," Heylin said. "They should be cheaper."

Long accepted in other parts of the world, entomophagy the technical term for eating insects has gained traction domestically in the past decade with splashy features in The New Yorker and New York Times. Veteran evangelists active since the 1970s paved the way for ardent advocates like the Bay Area Bug Eating Society.

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"He said it was good," Heylin said.

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