Consuming insects is still taboo in the U.S. Are we on the verge of change?
Some of the most popular foods in the Western world are from other parts of the world. Nothing as American as apple pie, right? Actually, it’s more of a Dutch thing. How about hamburgers and hot dogs? Aren’t those American? Nope, not really. Those are from Germany.
It took time for some foods to be embraced by Western society. Moreover, the idea of eating raw fish was scandalous only a few decades ago, but nowadays Japanese sushi is extremely popular in Western culture.
The latest food trend to be making its way to the Western world is cricket flour, which is prominent across the world, along with the consumption of the rest of the 1,900 species of insects used in food in many parts of Africa and Asia.
The concept of eating insects is as scandalous now as eating raw fish was a few years ago. It will understandably take some time and knowledge to gain more traction. However, it seems that cricket flour is helping to pave the road.
Cricket Flour, Everyone’s Doing It
Dried or roasted crickets are milled into a fine grain powder, the result of this process is cricket flour. The final product can then be used as a healthy source of protein in smoothies, baked goods, and protein bars.
Supporters of this food trend tout its endless health benefits as the reason for its rise in prominence. Some of its nutritional facts per single serving—the equivalent of 12 grams or 2 tablespoons—include:
- 55 calories
- 7 grams of protein
- 4 percent of your daily suggested iron
- 2 percent of your daily suggested calcium
- 2 grams of fat
- 0.8 grams of carbohydrates
“It’s a great source of fuel and energy for athletes, as well as a source of nutrition to repair muscle and encourage growth,” said Kyle Connaughton, former head chef at The Fat Duck. “Crickets are 65 percent protein by weight and are higher in calcium than milk, with more iron than beef,” he explains.
Even Mark Cuban is on Board
One of the many companies popping up in the U.S. cricket flour industry is called humorously called Chirps, which won over Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, earning itself a $100,000 investment. But Cuban is not the only person seeing the benefits to this food trend as the Department of Agriculture recently awarded a $100,000 grant to Bugeater Foods, another company in the slowly rising U.S. cricket flour industry. The company was asked to use the grant to develop cricket flour infused foods for American consumers.
Currently, Bugeater Foods is already selling cricket flour-based protein shakes in chocolate and coffee flavors and is now working on making other foods as well, such as rice, noodles, pasta.
Cricket Flour: Not Everyone Can Do It
We’d be hard-pressed to not mention that if you have a crustacean allergy, cricket flour is likely not for you. Crickets are arthropods which come from the same family as shellfish, crab, lobsters, and shrimp. If you have such an allergy you may experience a similar reaction when eating cricket flour.
A Cricket A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
The health benefits truly do seem endless as cricket flour can:
- improve muscle mass
- stabilize blood sugar levels
- maintain weight
- benefit brain and heart function
- improve your mood
- slow aging
- provide a natural source for energy
- reduce blood pressure
- promote bone health
Eat a Cricket, Save the Environment
Cricket flour is chock full of protein, iron, and calcium, but did you know this also helps the environment? A single cricket ranges between 65 and 70 percent pure protein, whereas beef only has between 17 and 40 percent. Furthermore, it takes between 1,700 and 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of protein from a cow whereas it only takes 1 gallon to do the same with crickets.
Yet, livestock is the most popular source of protein. Unfortunately, it is also a source of greenhouse gas emissions and water shortage. A state that could greatly benefit from this alternative is California, who is in a constantly towing water shortage line and yet has the 4th largest cattle inventory by volume. Additionally, cricket flour also has almost twice as much protein as chicken.
These are important benefits as the planet is projected to have a population of 9.7 billion by 2050, especially considering that crickets can be so easily harvested. It has been said they can even be farmed in your closet!
Their potential goes beyond surpassing livestock in health benefits. “Cricket is quite a neutral flavor so it doesn’t really enhance or detract the flavor of food,” added Connaughton. “That’s the value in crickets—it can be incorporated into basically anything without changing the flavor.”
To us, this can only mean one thing—there’s about to be a heavy demand for cricket-based cookbooks, and we should definitely get in on it. Anyone interested in a cricket flour cake?