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Alumni Profile

A Bug's Life: Running Colorado's First Edible Insect Farm

By Kendall Byram, M.A. in International & Intercultural Communication

Originally featured in the Fall 2017 issue of the Media, Film & Journalism Studies department's newsletter, Perspectives. 

Wendy Lu McGill"I'm actually packaging up some scorpion snack treats right now," Wendy Lu Mcgill said over the phone.

McGill knows first-hand how delicious, nutritious and sustainable eating insects can be. She is the Founder and CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch (RMMR), Colorado's only edible insect farm.

After attaining a master's degree from the University of Denvers's MA in International & Intercultural Communication program, McGill completed a two year Peace Corps stint in the Ukraine and did consulting work for numerous non-profit agencies including WHO and UNICEF for ten years. Her work has touched on issues ranging from migration to human trafficking to water sanitation. But she recognized her true love of agriculture while volunteering at local school gardens.

She first learned about bug farming when she stumbled on the Twitter account of a non-profit that focuses on outreach and advocacy of bugs as food. Her interest was piqued. So she ordered a few cricket powder protein bars and has been eating bugs and insects ever since.

McGill is fascinated by the sustainability of insect farming and the nutritional impact eating insects can have on people's diets. Crickets can provide much-needed protein, calcium, and iron to an ordinary diet.

The farm raises edible crickets, meal worms, and wax worms in a 40-foot shipping container outside Denver. The Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch (RMMR, or the Ranch for short) sells their product wholesale to restaurants, food manufacturers and any person who is daring enough to add insects to their diet.

McGill estimates that at full capacity, the RMMR could produce up to 250 pounds of insects per month. Right now the Ranch is running at a much lower capacity while McGill and her team navigate the ins and outs of micro farming. Along with being Colorado's only edible insect farm, the RMMR is also the only farm using food waste to feed their bugs.

McGill's daily routine is never the same. She says that she is often doing something new that she didn't know how to do the day before. Her favorite part of her work is two-fold. She loves getting to work with creative and innovative people on a daily basis. And she enjoys getting to give her crickets a good life and seeing their complete life cycle. She says she realizes that this may sound odd, but she loves feeling connected to the food she's raising.

Entomophagy is the scientific word for eating bugs. It is estimated that more than 80% of the world's population regularly take part in the practice as a component of their diets. There are about 15 insect farms in North America dedicated to raising products for human consumption.

McGill says that taking the "ick factor" out of eating insects is something that she takes very seriously. She fully recognizes the importance of helping people to overcome the mental block that goes along with putting a bug in their mouth.

McGill sees education as an important component to getting the idea in people's minds. She wants to give people the chance to try something new. It's "not hard to make insects taste good," she notes; but people just needs to be courageous enough to try it.

If you are interested in adding insects to your diet, the RMMR is planning to begin offering tours and tastings this winter. If you want to start sooner, visit*

*Wendy does want people to know that eating insects may be an issue for people with shellfish allergies