Yes, Absolutely!…In fact crickets have the potential to transform more than just our diets, our whole way of thinking about food. Crickets may just help with some much needed transformation on a global level as well by creating a food secure future for our rapidly growing population and combating the effects of climate change!
These are some big statements so let’s dive in by asking the questions:
“What is food?” and “Why do we eat?”
Here’s the dictionary answer to the first question:
1. any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.
I would also add, in simple terms that, to the body, food is fuel made up of vitamins, minerals, water, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.
The second question is a bit more complex. Why we eat can be a spectrum of reasons ranging from wanting to be at our peak physical performance to preventing and fighting disease, social enjoyment, emotional comfort, convenience or survival.
For a growing number of people there is another consideration at mealtime;
“What is the environmental impact of the food I’m eating?”
This question doesn’t arise on it’s own, it comes in response to learning about the actual environmental cost of the familiar foods we eat. Here are a few graphs illustrating some of the environmental costs of traditional livestock protein.
Here’s a couple of notable facts we learned as we dove into the stats about the environmental inputs and outputs of traditional livestock farming:
It takes 2500 gallonsof water to produce 1 pound of beef…and 2 gallons of water to produce one pound of cricket powder (which is 30 servings).
Also crickets produce 1000’s of times less greenhouse gases to make 1 pound of protein. Here’s a sobering fact, to make 1 lb of beef produces the same amount of greenhouse gas as driving a car 520 miles!
Globally 70% of arable land is used for meat production (as pasture for grazing or for growing feed for livestock). Cricket farming on the other hand, requires a tiny fraction of the amount of land needed for traditional animal agriculture.
In addition crickets have a feed conversion ratio that is twice as efficient as chicken, 4 times as efficient as pigs and 12 times as efficient as beef (the feed conversion ratio is how many pounds of feed it takes to produce 1 lb of protein,..in case you were wondering).
Whether you’re comparing water use, land use, feed conversion ratios, greenhouse gas emissions or even overall nutrition crickets are just far more efficient.
My response came in a slow wave that went something like this, shock-confusion-frustration-heartbreak-inspiration.
I’d like to focus on that last one, inspiration. I felt inspired to do something..anything.? In our inspiration the concept of “insects as food” really landed. We continued our studies and my wife, Adrienne and I quickly learned that Entomophagy, ~ the practice of eating insects, especially by humans, is not just a concept and that we humans have actually been eating insects for their nutritional value since time immemorial, not to mention that even today 2.5 billion people across the globe eat insects as part of their regular diet every day, that’s 1/3rd of the humans on earth!
At this point we immediately got our hands on some Cricket Powder and started experimenting with it as an additive to boost the protein content and nutritional value of foods we make at home.
We Decided to Make a Change
We began experimenting by adding cricket powder to all kinds of dishes we already made. With their mild nutty flavor crickets lend themselves to versatility in the kitchen. We really came to enjoy the creative element that working with a new and energy dense ingredient brought out.
Of course cricket powder went well as an additive in my daily green smoothies but also in things like guacamole and hummus. Baked goods like muffins, brownies, oatmeal cookies, breads even pancakes.
The whole, dry roasted crickets were fun to work with too, turns out they’re great on soups and salads like croutons. Or mixed in with your favorite trail mix or granola, we even did a little zucchini-onion-cricket stir fry as a taco filling. We quickly learned the possibilities are endless.
After a little experimentation crickets became a staple in our kitchen. Since our early days of entomophagy, a few years ago, we have enjoyed countless delicious meals fortified with crickets. However you eat them, crickets are highly nutritious and a very versatile ingredient that turns almost anything into a superfood.
One serving of cricket powder (2 Tbs) contains:
~10.5 grams of complete protein (all 9 essential amino acids)
~570% of your daily B-12 requirement
~450 mg prebiotic fiber
~as much Omega Fats as salmon
~plus calcium and iron
I’ll let this nutrition profile speak for itself although I did want to touch on what prebiotics are for those of you that don’t know.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in your gut while prebiotics are the nutrients that those probiotics need to thrive. If you take a capsule that has a billion live beneficial bacteria in it but there aren’t proper amounts of prebiotics present in your gut than many of those probiotics will pass through your digestive tract never having achieved their goal of providing you healthy digestion and boosting your immune system among other things. A crickets exoskeleton is made of Chitin (pronounced Kai-tin) which, you guessed it, is a prebiotic fiber.
Entomophagy is Trending West
We are on the front edge of the entomophagy movement here in the West. Cricket bars, crackers, granola and protein powders are popping up in natural food stores around the country, and there’s so much more to come. There’s even crickets on the menus of some hip metropolitan restaurants. (Just thought I’d point out that 35 years ago, to Westerners, the idea of eating raw fish was totally wacky..and now there’s a sushi available everywhere…just sayin.)
Civilizations are built on the resourcefulness of people. Resourcefulness is defined as ‘the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.’ As it becomes more difficult and environmentally costly to maintain inefficient industrial animal agriculture practices, resourceful people are daring to take bold steps to problem solve the environmental impact of how we eat in Western civilization.
I see it like this; Our population is growing exponentially and along with it our need for protein, but there is a clear limit to the natural resources available to produce that protein. This equation doesn’t have a future using the old model of animal agriculture. It is clearly time to think outside the box.
Adding crickets as a protein source is a resourceful response to our changing environment, they’re delicious, nutritious, truly sustainable and this is why crickets can definitely transform our modern diet.
*all statistics based on data gathered from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization