In the not so distant future, crickets and other protein rich bugs will become a mainstream food
◊ By Stacie Goldin
“What do you mean this is made with crickets? What are crickets?” a young mother asked me incredulously as she passed by my edible insect food samples at the grocery store. Eyes wide, she was not quite ready to hear the answer she had, nevertheless, anticipated.
“Crickets,” I said, smiling. “As in the insect that hops around and chirps into the night.”
She blinked. Once. Twice. Pause. And confusion.
“But, but… why? Why would you put ground crickets in this banana bread?”
That is a question we get asked frequently.
The answer is quite simple. Adding edible insects to your diet and switching from eating a meat-based diet to an insect-based diet is healthy for your body, and can contribute in repairing the grave damage that our past and current agricultural methods have caused the planet.
The flavour is nutty and a little bit earthy, very much like sunflower seeds
ENTOMO FARMS—REARING INSECTS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
When the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations released the paper, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security, the three founding brothers (Jarrod, Darren and Ryan Goldin) of Entomo Farms, Ontario, knew they had to research the subject in depth to provide people over the globe with human-grade insects as a rich and sustainable food alternative, which would not only improve overall human health, but also help alleviate the stresses that other forms of protein have put on the planet—explicitly fresh water depletion, arable land issues, methane emission, and a massive carbon footprint.
Two of the three Goldin brothers had already been farming insects for reptile food for about 10 years before they decided to try their hand at insect farming for human consumption. With the founding of Entomo, their older brother joined them and together, they created innovative, agriculturally sound farming methods to produce insects ethically. Simultaneously, through social media, they created and fostered a large online community of entomophagists (people who consume insects) and even coined the term ‘Geoentomarian’ for one who eats insects for the benefit of the planet.
The challenge has been around the adoption of insects as a mainstream food in the Western diet. The reactions to our products have spanned from “Eww” to “Cool” to “Wow” and everything in between. When people stop and listen to the win-win philosophy of entomophagy, they are more open to trying, especially when the cricket powder is infused in a delicious recipe like Ginger Cookies or Banana Bread—the nutritional and environmental benefits speak for themselves!
CRICKETS—A TREMENDOUS PROTEIN SOURCE
Crickets contain more than twice the protein and 20 times the vitamin B12 of beef, as well as, high levels of essential vitamins and minerals, prebiotic fibre, Omega 3 and 6, and all 9 essential amino acids. Those interested in being healthy and caring for the environment are more than willing to give cricket based food a try.
When people taste it, their expressions turn from apprehension to pleasantly surprised, and they all remark on how it just tastes like regular food. The flavour is nutty and a little bit earthy, very much like sunflower seeds.
The insects themselves are free range and are free to roam around the barn, eating, drinking and sleeping at will. The farm is certified organic. The process to become certified organic was slow and arduous, with lots of back and forth with ECOCERT, as it was uncertain if crickets could even be deemed ‘organic’. Their perseverance paid off, however, and now Entomo Farms possesses the USDA, EU, non GMO and the Canada Biologique certifications, and is officially certified organic.
Currently, Entomo sells its cricket powder ingredient to over 60 companies worldwide, who use it to prepare other products such as dog food, dog treats, pasta sauce, protein bars, pasta, chips and so much more. The increase of companies in the edible insect industry is exponential—new companies producing products using edible insects, new farms and restaurants incorporating insect food are popping up all the time here in the West. To be clear, the industry is still in its infancy but the scope is huge. Researchers forecast the edible insects market to reach $1.53 bn by the year 2021.
Today, edible insects is a sunrise sector in the West but the day is not far when it will be a booming industry worldwide. With the global population escalating to gargantuan proportions and natural resources on the wane, agriculture cannot alone cater for the growing demand for food. Outliers today, soon enough, crickets will enjoy the same ‘superfood’ status chia, quinoa and others do today.
The author is Manager of Media, Education and Public Relations at Entomo Farms, Canada, an innovative leader in insect cultivation as a human food source