Eating insects has long been discussed as a potential solution to resolve concerns around food insecurity and traditional agriculture’s use of land and carbon emissions.
Cicadas, tarantulas, crickets, and mealworms are just some of the critters that have been reimagined in recipes aimed at curbing the global population’s consumption of meats such as beef, production of which has been cited as a major contributor to worldwide pollution.
According to one recent social media post, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates has also weighed in on the issue, encouraging others to eat crickets, not for the sustainability of the planet, but because of their supposed health benefits.
A Reddit post, published on February 1, 2023, on the r/conspiracy subreddit, with more than 3,000 engagements, shows a photo of Bill Gates with the caption “This guy is telling you to eat crickets to stay healthy.”
It’s clear the intent of the post is less to do with making a claim about Bill Gates’ views on nutrition and more a mean jab at his appearance.
However, the claim that Gates has recommended eating crickets “to stay healthy” has not been verified.
It’s worth noting that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding to companies developing insect-based foods and associated technologies.
In 2021, the foundation provided more than $2.2 million to Insecti Pro Limited, “to establish a commercially-viable business for sustainable insect production for food and feed products in East and Central Africa.” In 2012 it also granted $100,000 to All Things Bugs, LLC to “develop a method for the efficient production of nutritionally dense food using insect species.”
These grants do not include comments from Bill Gates about the healthiness of eating insects, the central claim of the Reddit post.
While Gates’ name is often mentioned in conversations and claims surrounding meat alternatives, it does not appear that he has made any statements about the healthiness of eating crickets.
The Microsoft co-founder has, however, been a supporter of plant-based meats, investing millions in Impossible Foods, as reported by Newsweek.
The source of the claim about Gates and insects may have come from a 2022 episode of The Joe Rogan Experience during which Rogan, while discussing future food products, says “We’re eating insects or Bill Gates’ fake meat. He’s going to make us eat his fake meat so we look like him.”
The same photo used on Reddit was also used in an article to describe another episode of Rogan’s podcast in which he criticizes Gates’ health and his endorsement of plant-based meat (although here Rogan doesn’t mention insects).
In any case, while Gates’ charitable foundation has invested in technologies in insect foods, and has invested heavily in plant-based meat, he doesn’t appear to have been directly quoted saying people should eat crickets to stay healthy.
Bill Gates has been a frequent target for misleading claims. In 2021 it was falsely claimed that he wanted to block out the sun. Last year he was misleadingly alleged to have predicted the 2022 outbreak of monkeypox.
Newsweek has contacted the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for comment.
Bill Gates has invested in plant-based meat development while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted millions to support insect-based food companies.
However, Newsweek could not find any statement that encouraged others to eat crickets “to stay healthy”. It’s possible that the claim is an amalgamation of other statements about him, including some by podcast host Joe Rogan.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team