crickets, food, recipe

Stabalize our global food issue by eating bugs

Words & Photography: Heidi Volpe

Here’s how you can turn crickets into a delicious, mouth-watering meal all while saving the planet.

In 2013 The United Nations published a seminal report that became the catalyst for the entomophagy movement and the most downloaded document the UN had ever produced.  What’s all the buzz about? Bugs. Edible insects to be exact. By 2050 the global population will expand to 9 billion strong leaving us protein scarce. Insects have been put forward as a potential solution to help stabilize our global food security issue. Here’s why you should hop on the bug trend.

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1. You’re Already Eating Bugs 

The FDA already allows bugs in processed foods. Canned mushrooms have up to 20 maggots per 3.5 oz. Chocolate has up to 60 insect parts per 3.5 oz. Frozen broccoli has up to 60 aphids, thrips and mites per 3.5 oz. Cochineal, a beetle is used as a natural red dye in strawberry yogurts, ketchup and some strawberry flavored drinks and candy. The list goes on. You’re already consuming them without knowing it, so might as well make the best of it. 

2. You want to save the planet

Bugs are hailed for their minimal use of natural resources in comparison to animal agriculture. Crickets specifically use far less water, land and feed. They also pump out very little carbon emissions and ammonia compared to massive feedlots and factory farming. Crickets are vertically farmed requiring less space, and the yield from feed to usable product is astounding. Most of the cricket is edible compared to beef which is only 40% with pigs and chicken coming in at 55%. In addition, the gestation period is about a month compared to beef, which is almost a full year. 

3. You’re More Open Minded Than You Think

Yeah we get it, you aren’t choosing to eat bugs, which begs the question why not? For most people it’s an emotional and intellectual reaction to the ick factor. Here in the West, insects are thought of as pests. Certainly not food. When the potato came into Europe, it was an enormous cultural effort to integrate the potato into the European food system because for anyone who lives in a settled society with cities, root-eating is a sign of being like animals,” said food historian Rachel Lauden and author of Cuisine and Empire. “Roots were animal food in Europe, so basically the poor of Europe had to be bludgeoned into adopting the potato in the 17th and 18th century.” Fast-forward to the 21st century, potatoes, no big deal right? Ick overcome.

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4. It’s The Best Way To Eat Animals The Humane Way

Most farms kill their crickets humanely. They are frozen and put into hibernation, which mirrors diapause, their natural way of sleeping. Crickets are known as the gateway bug and considered to be the most boring of all insects. Their taste has an earthy and nutty flavor. The taste is fairly neutral and will take on the profile of whatever spice you are mixing it with.

5. Getting Started Is Easy

Try the prepared foods first. Bars are a good first effort.  Exo, Chapul, Seek-Food and Sensbar are all available online. Your mind will most likely overpower your taste buds but try and focus on what you taste rather than what think you are eating.

If you’re ready for the next level, buy some cricket flour. Austin based and bio dynamically farm Coalo Valley Farms are two great resources. Smoothies or baking is your best bet. Simply use any normal cookie or bread recipe and cut back on the flour, adding the cricket flour instead. The particle size is a bit bigger; be prepared for a texture change. Aketta has a variety of recipes to explore for both the flour and the whole insect. 

When you’re finally ready to go for the whole body insect, take the insects and try to shake off the ancillary parts (wings, legs and antenna). It’s not uncommon for a leg or antenna to get caught in the back of your throat. Place the insects in a sieve and shake. A household salad spinner works great, it’s just big enough to capture the body but release the extra parts.

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