While it might sound like something out of the Survivor reality show, two University of Oregon students have found a way to increase the world’sintake of protein without clearing another acre of forest. Cricket Flour is not a trendy name; it’s an actual description of what Charles Wilson and Omar Ellis are bringing to market—and it’s tastierthan you might think.
“My first thought was that this would not work in a Western culture,” said Ellis, an MBA student. But Wilson, a law student, had come armed with a 2013 UN report named “Edible Insects: Future prospects for food and feed security,” which detailed the importance of insects as a food source, according to The Oregonian. Wilson and Ellis recognized two things: First, that the world needs protein, but second, that we cannot continue to feed protein to the world at our current rate of farmland consumption. Conventional protein sources consume a vast amount of resources.
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Intensive fishing is destroying a primary source of protein for some of the population and putting it financially out of reach for others. “Governments around the world,” according to The Oregonian, “are scrambling to prevent overfishing and fish farms are criticized as polluting the water.”
Enter the crickets. Crickets are related to shrimp (yup—that shrimp scampi you had last Friday night was really bug scampi) and are high in protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. “Eighty percent of the world eats bugs,” Ellis said. “It’s just Westerners who don’t.” But the pair also knew that selling Americans on eating whole crickets likely wasn’t going to fly. That’s when they came up with the idea of grinding the crickets, which they purchase from a U.S. farm that breeds crickets for human consumption (currently going unnamed), into flour.
The crickets are ordered and shipped to Eugene, Oregon, where they are humanely frozen, then roasted and ground into flour. It takes 5,500 crickets to make a pound of flour, and the pair is currently selling about 50 pounds a month and says that sales are increasing. The flour is only available online through sites like Etsy and is gaining a following.
Before you buy, though, understand that cricket flour isn’t going to mix into your butter and sugar and make a batch of cookies without a little help. Since there is no gluten in it, Cricket Flours developed a line that included regular baking flour in with the pulverized crickets—pure cricket flour is more like a protein powder. Oh, and check out Wilson’s upcoming cookbook on what to do with all of those bugs.
Via The Oregonian
Photos by Flickr/Simon Lai and Cricket Flours