roasted crickets
If the rise of Entomo Farms is any indication, the world is about to undergo a food revolution. The Bellevue, Washington-based company produces roasted crickets and cricket flour for human consumption. The crickets are sustainably raised and highly nutritious, containing 13 grams of protein per serving (1/3 cup). The insects also provide high amounts of calcium and iron, along with vitamin B12. Many industry experts believe that the nutritious nature of these insects can help to significantly reduce malnourishment worldwide.

Cricket Production

Most of the production of these crickets occurs at Entomo Farms’ private farm in Norwood, Ontario (the biggest cricket farming facility in North America). The crickets are farmed efficiently and sustainably. They are allowed to roam freely in dark, warm “cricket condos,” which simulate their natural habitat. The crickets are harvested only at the end of their life cycle, which lasts about six weeks. This ensures that the crickets are produced humanely, which is an integral aspect of Entomo Farms’ approach to cricket farming.

Roasted Crickets and Cricket Powder

Once they are farmed, the crickets are prepared in a special facility. They are rinsed thoroughly to remove bacteria and then broken up into two groups: some are roasted in the oven, intended to be eaten whole, and others are placed into a food processing machine, in which they are ground into a fine powder. This powder will be sold as “cricket flour” and is intended to be used as a nutritious supplement to regular flour. The flour can also be used in smoothies and protein shakes.

Investments and Impact

Entomo’s production network is quite vast: they ship their crickets around the world, to locations like South Africa and Australia. In addition, they are currently working on getting more of their products into large supermarkets. All of this points to massive growth in the near future – in fact, the entire insect production industry is expected to undergo a 24 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) increase from 2019 to 2030.

As a result, Entomo recently received a large investment from Canadian food company Maple Leaf Farms. When asked about the transaction, Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in a statement that his company “sees a long-term role in this form of protein delivery, both for animal and human consumption”. This investment bodes well for both companies, as production will be able to be scaled, and profits will likely increase. Once this occurs, Entomo Farms’ products will be able to make their way into the homes of the world’s poor, providing individuals and families alike with key nutrients.

Changing the World

Cricket production holds immense potential in changing how developing world eats. The protein and vitamins in the roasted crickets and cricket powder provide a nutritious boost to meals that many individuals in poverty sorely need. In addition, the environmentally friendly nature of cricket production is quite promising. Everything said, there is no doubt that Entomo Farms is changing the world for the better.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Insects have been eaten by humans for centuries. Little do most people know that pound for pound, insects pack more protein than regular beef or chicken. Today, one start up company plans to reclaim bugs as a source protein to improve food security and protect the environment.

Exo is a new company started by Brown University graduates Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis. Exo produces protein bars that are made with a very special ingredient: cricket flour. The crickets are slow roasted and milled into a fine powder. The cricket flour is then combined with organic ingredients such as raw cacao, dates, almond butter, and coconut. The result is a high protein, low sugar, nutritionally packed protein bar. The bar boasts a high content of omega 3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium. The bars are also gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and have no artificial preserves or processed ingredients.

Why eat crickets? Crickets are extremely nutritious. They are made up of a majority of protein by dry weight. They also contain all the essential amino acids. Compared to beef, 100 grams of cricket powder contains 69% protein while 100 grams of dried beef contains only 45% protein. Sirloin steak has even less at 29% per 100 grams. Cricket powder also contains nearly as much calcium as cow’s milk.

Cricket protein presents a solution to the global food and environmental crisis. Crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle and 4 times less than sheep. They require very little water and very little space. High densities of crickets also require significantly less space for storage and transportation, making this insect protein highly sustainable. Furthermore, harvesting insects such as crickets is far less environmentally destructive as raising traditional livestock. The average cow produces 132 pounds of methane that is released into the atmosphere. Crickets produce 80 times less.

By creating these protein bars, Exo hopes to convert the world’s food eating patterns into more sustainable ones. Despite the many benefits of consuming insects, most people are still hesitant to do so, especially in the United States. However in reality, 80% of the world already does so. Additionally, Exo has worked with expert chefs and conducted taste tests to produce a protein bar that is both wholesome and enjoyable.

Both Gabi and Greg of Exo hope to see their company expand to include a variety of insect based foods. Ultimately their goal is to “feed the world without destroying the planet.” By tapping into insects as a source of protein, Exo stands to make a real difference in the food industry.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: Forbes, Kickstarter
Photo: The World