Crickets and other creepy crawlies are not only good for you but are also beneficial for the environment, not to mention economically viable for an over-populated and growing planet. It’s a bug’s life!
Imagine this: you’re just back from a sweaty, invigorating and calorie crushing morning run and the stomach growls out for your favourite morning snack- a protein bar. You close your eyes in eager anticipation of that first bite of crunchy cricket. You heard right! Protein bars made with cricket, distant cousins of the grasshopper, are all the rage with a generation that reveres healthy, non-toxic sources of food. Crickets, a major source of calcium, zinc, magnesium and Omega 3 and 6 among other goodies, are some of the many insects that are being tapped for their nutritional value. Moreover, insects like beetles, caterpillars, ants and dragonflies among others are being widely consumed across the world. They have also proven to be healthy alternatives to chicken, beef, pork and ocean caught fish. Contrary to the belief that eating bugs is a fad that has just become popular, nearly 2 billion people across Africa, Asia and Latin America have been practicing entomophagy (feasting on insects) for decades according to a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2013.
A bug’s life. Healthy, cheap and good for the earth!
You might balk at the idea of sampling a snack with tiny feet, but along with the nutritional value these bugs have, additional plus points include economy and environmental benefits of harvesting insects and incorporating them into edibles. Insects emit considerably less amounts of greenhouse gases compared to livestock and less ammonia than pigs do. Crickets also need less to produce more protein than cattle, pigs and poultry. Besides most insects do not need a lot of land to grow- a big win for the environment all around! With the rising costs of animal feed, the fact that insects don’t need much to thrive (and are available almost everywhere!) makes them an economically feasible option for those who want to breed them as a food source but can’t afford to make a big investment.
Big bucks for tiny bugs
Investors are excited about the bug revolution- from pumping money into companies that develop technology to raise insects (Tiny Farms, a California-based cricket breeding farm, recently received a large chunk of change from the other Zuckerberg, Arielle, Mark’s sister, who is a partner at a top venture capital firm) to protein bar makers like Chapul who were given the nod (and $50,000) by none other than Shark Tank god, Mark Cuban.
Coast Protein, Western Canada’s first cricket protein company, recently announced the launch of their crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter. The company is setting out to raise $20,000 from February 27 to March 31 in hopes to streamline production, improve packaging, and add cricket protein powders to their product offering- small-batch protein bars.
Available in two delicious flavours, Coast Protein locally produces roughly 1,000 cricket protein bars by hand every week.
“Our hope for this campaign is not only to increase our production capacity and expand our product line, but to educate our community about the health benefits of this sustainable protein source,” said Chris Baird, Marketing Director of Coast Protein in a statement. “We’ve found that crickets contain more calcium than milk, and more iron than spinach, making them the ideal candidate for protein powder in shakes and smoothies. We’ve seen other healthy food trends like juicing, Kombucha, and farm-to-table takeoff in Canada and we believe that cricket protein is next.” Enterra, a company owned by renowned scientist David Suzuki, is on a quest to replace perishable fish meal and soy as sources of protein and fat with bugs grown on waste food. Ofbug, a Vancouver-based insect protein producer is working with fly larvae as well as using spent grain from breweries to grow mealworms for poultry.
They are everywhere!
From protein powders to raw frozen crickets, bugs are everywhere. And millennials obsessed with sustainable sources of food are scooping them up. Some popular products available online and in stores include cricket oatmeal from Oregon, Don Bugito chilli lime crickets with pumpkin seeds, roasted crickets and baking flour from Entomo Farms and multi-flavoured suckers and candy to name a few. Bon Appetit!
BOX: SUPERFOOD ALERT! Good to know facts about our tiny friends:
Crickets have a full amino acid profile, and are environmentally friendly. Compared to cows, crickets require 2,000 times less water, produce 100 times less methane gas, and require a fraction of the land for the same pound of protein.
There’s a lot of variety for insect snack aficionados- there are more than 1900 species of edible insects in the world to choose from!
Only the larvae of the aquatic beetle species are eaten. Yum!
The chapuline grasshopper is cleaned, toasted in a little oil with garlic and flavoured with lemon and salt to make a popular cooking ingredient in several parts of Mexico.
Dried mopane caterpillars found in Africa will last for several months and are a known valuable source of nutrition in times of stress.
Baisakhi Roy | The Edge Blog