Does eating insects sound a bit odd to you? It really shouldn't! Insects are an ordinary source of food for people all over the world, and edible insects have always been a part of human diets. It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people, with more than 1,900 species reportedly used for food! [i]
In some countries, though, there is a degree of distaste for their consumption (*cough*Canada*cough*). And it’s true that our Western diets aren’t used to eating insects, but what’s common is constantly changing: at one point, lobsters were regarded as a cheap source of protein fit only for convicts, and crickets share the same phylum(their taxonomic rank) with lobsters! If you're judging food trajectories, crickets are quickly becoming a much more fashionable source of protein - for many good reasons!
Insects are so popular in so many parts of the world because of two things: they’re plentiful and they’re super nutritious! For example, the composition of unsaturated omega-3 and six fatty acids in mealworms is comparable with that in fish (and higher than in cattle and pigs), and the protein, vitamin and mineral content of mealworms is similar to that in fish. But let’s examine about the most common insect you’ll find on the market here in Canada: crickets.
Protein: The protein in crickets is complete, meaning it’s made up of all nine essential amino acids, like other animal proteins. These amino acids must be consumed through our diets because they can’t be produced by the body but are necessary to all metabolic processes.
Chitin:This type of protein (pronounced KITE-in) makes up the cricket’s body, sort of like cellulose in plant foods, and it’s a great prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics are important for gut health because they feed the good bacteria populations that process nutrients, kill pathogens, and improve our immunity.
Vitamin B12: Crickets are an amazing source of B12, a vitamin that is found in energy-intensive foods like red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy (more on that below!). It’s critical to brain and nervous system health, converting food into energy, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell formation among many other things. In the foods most people are used to eating, B12 is the highest in fish and seafood, but crickets contain seven times more B12 than salmon. Incredible but true!
Insects are our best choice as a cheap protein source because raising crickets uses much, much fewer resources than others. Per gram of protein produced, crickets require 2,000 times less water, 12 times less feed, and emit 80 times less methane versus cattle. Crickets also require only 2 kilograms of feed for every 1 kilogram of bodyweight gain. They are also used in their entirety with zero waste, unlike in traditional meat processing where it's estimated that only 60% of a cow is used for food. That's a lot of waste!
Cricket farms get so much for what is put into them. Raising insects emits much less greenhouse gas and ammonia than raising cattle or pigs, and they require significantly less land and water than cattle rearing. Compared with mammals and birds, insects may also pose less risk of transmitting infections to humans, livestock and wildlife (although this topic does require further research).
Crickets require very little space to be farmed. In tight conditions, traditional livestock animals get sick easily, but not crickets. Not only can they be farmed vertically, but also crickets are also naturally a swarming species and like living in large numbers together in tight quarters. This means that the use of land is minimal in cricket farming and that the protein output per land unit is very high. Cricket “manure” is a great agricultural fertilizer. We get so much from it!
Crickstart is a company based in Montreal that uses crickets to make energy bars, crackers, and smoothie mixes. The crickets they source are farmed organically in Ontario, a step Crickstart is pioneering. The farm from which they come has a lot of space. Crickets are awfully small, so when housed in very large barns, it's akin to them being free range. But they love company and naturally live in tight conditions, lending them well to vertical and spatially restricted farming.
So many people across the country are turning to cricket powder as a natural, dairy-free protein that tastes great. Crickstart uses 100% of the crickets, roasted and milled into a powder. This makes adding the extra nutrition products for extra protein and energy painless and inobtrusive.
From the nutritional profile to the sustainability to its ability to be added to foods painlessly, Crickstart makes it easy for you to be at the forefront of a new food revolution!