Crickets: The Lost Protein

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Crickets: The protein of the future.

crickets the lost protein

Entomophagy: the human consumpton of insects

Have you ever eaten an insect?

I’m sure your immediate answer may be “No! Never!” or “Not on purpose…” but everyone has eaten an insect before. You may be eating them more often than you think. Eating insects are not very popular in the United States or in Europe but it’s a common ingredient in many countries all around the world.

There are some products that we use that are derived from insects. Natural red dye 4, also known as carmine or cochineal extract, for example. This red dye is made from the female cochineal insect and is added to food suck as fake crab meat, soft drinks, candies, and in medicine. However, most of the insects that we end up eating are from our everyday food and the amount the FDA allows to be in our food.Amount of Insects in Food (1)

Why don’t Western countries eat insects?

Eating insects really is not that uncommon and we’ve been doing it whether or not we realize it. In the U.S. and Europe the thought of eating an insect can be very revolting but why is that? One belief is that once we started relying on farming for our food we began to see insects as the destroyers of food rather than being food. Over time we have lost our appetite for insects and our hatred and even fear of them has increased. Another possibility is just not having enough of the edible bugs around or too much energy was expended trying to hunt for bugs.

Why we should eat crickets

Yes, crickets. Those little flightless hoppers that we feed to our pet lizards and are a big contributor to sounds of a summer night.

1. Crickets are high nutrients

Crickets are nutrient-packed! 100 grams of crickets contain 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, and 121 calories. They also contain calcium, phosphorous, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. In comparison, 100 grams of beef has 23.5 grams of protein, 288.2 calories, and 21.2 grams. Beef may contain more protein but it is also much high in calories and fat.

The amount of protein in crickets can vary based on their diet one study found. Crickets had the highest amount of protein when fed a grain-based diet similar to what chickens eat. This means that right now, to get the highest amount of protein it doesn’t necessarily cost any less than raising chickens. However, crickets do have a bit of a higher protein conversion rate compared to chickens.

2. Crickets require fewer resources

One hundred pounds of feed is required to make just 10 pounds of beef whereas the same amount of feed can produce 45 pounds of crickets. Since crickets can be fed scraps and produce more on the same amount fed to beef, they can take off some strain on farmland used to produce feed. We could open up more field for producing foods for humans. They use less water as they get some of their water content from the foods they eat.

3. They produce fewer Greenhouse Gases

In 2011, cows were responsible for 39% of the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. This surpassed synthetic fertilizer and deforestation. Crickets produce significantly fewer greenhouse gases which means that we could have a high protein source with less of an impact on our environment.

How to eat crickets

There are a lot of recipes around the world that utilize crickets and their insects. If you aren’t a fan of eating whole insects there’s always powdered ones!

cricket cookies c

Cricket powder is a great way to eat crickets without having to see the crickets. Some of us don’t like to eat things with a face…in this case, with many legs.

Cricket powder can be substituted in baked goods. You don’t want to substitute more than 1/3 of a cup per 1 cup of flour. It does well but because many backed goods need the gluten in the flour too much can cause the recipe to fail. Above I made snickerdoodle cookies with cricket flour. The cookies spread out a lot due to the lack of the gluten but they were still good, just thin. They tasted like snickerdoodles and the cricket powder wasn’t too noticeable. The color of the powder did dominate the color of the cookies even though there was more white flour. These cookies weren’t bad and a lot of people who tried them didn’t even know there were crickets in them! I think chocolate chip or chocolate chirp cookies might be really good.

Would you try crickets?

If you’re interested in diving into the world of entomophagy here’s some cricket powder or some whole crickets if you’re brave enough.


Entomophagy (Eating insects)
For Most People, Eating Bugs Is Only Natural
Study: To Cut Down On Environmental Impact, Eat Less Beef
Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert
Eating Insects Isn’t as Eco-Friendly As People Say
The Truth About Red Food Dye Made from Bugs
How nutritional are crickets
Environmental opportunities for insect rearing for food and feed
Gassy Cows Are Warming The Planet, And They’re Here To Stay
How to Breed a Tasty Cricket

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