A new farming trend has hit Ohio recently with a crop that may be a revolutionary answer to future farming sustainability: crickets.
Big Cricket Farms, which recently opened in Youngstown, Ohio, is the first farm to open in the U.S. that will breed insects for the sole purpose of human consumption. Cricket breeding is expected to increase in the coming years because of increasing demand for cricket flour by bakeries and companies making the switch from grain flour to the cricket-based product.
While Big Cricket Farms is breeding their crickets for a company that produces cricket flour chips (also known as “Chirps”), many companies use the cricket flour to make everyday baked goods and energy bars for those who are looking for a healthy protein alternative.
Crickets are cleaned, dried and milled into fine flour that can be used in any kind of baking as a substitute for regular flour.
All of these companies share the similar message that cricket farming is the way of the future, and they may be on to something.
Megan Miller, founder of Bitty, a San Francisco-based bakery startup that uses cricket flour in its baked goods and energy bars, approached this concept in a recent TEDx talk called “Are insects the future of food?” Miller presented many surprising facts about the benefits of introducing crickets into our diet, but also approached the stigma that many of us may share around “eating bugs.”
If you look at the facts, though, it is hard to ignore the idea that cricket consumption could change the agricultural industry in America forever. There are two surprising benefits that cannot be ignored when considering introducing the insect into your everyday life.
The health benefits are inarguably higher than most other protein sources that we currently consume, which can be seen in the diagram below, with high levels of iron, protein and vitamin B12.
In fact, the protein levels in crickets are higher than they are in most of our current food sources. Crickets are also very low in the fat and cholesterols that we already try to avoid in our diets.
So how will cricket farming and consumption impact us environmentally? The statistics are staggering. With a population that continues to grow, agriculture will have to keep up, causing more stress on resources. Luckily, crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep and two times less than pigs to produce the same amount of protein. They also produce much less methane than other food sources, emitting an average of 80% less gas than cattle.
More than 2 billion people worldwide already include insects in their diets, which makes me wonder why haven’t we jumped on the bandwagon yet. All we need to do is get past the psychological roadblock of “eating bugs.” Do you think you could?
Image courtesy of grapevinebros.com