So, listen, I get it… When someone suggests trying an offbeat source of protein, like crickets, many people’s immediate reaction is, “A bug for meals? GROSS!” Images from Fear Factor and Bizarre Foods jump into our heads, and our stomachs immediately revolt. The issue is that when most people hear “insect protein,” they picture grabbing the first bug they see and munching away. However, in reality, crickets are now farmed just as any other protein source to ensure a high-quality food product. How? Read on to find out!
Photo Credit Chingrit thot: A dish from Thailand that is made from deep-fried crickets.
Crickets are one of the most consumed insects worldwide. And as people look for healthier, more environmentally friendly protein sources, sales of cricket-protein products have also increased. In the long run, protein-rich insects like crickets could be an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional animal-based protein sources like beef. Some people, however, are wary of eating bugs due to health and hygiene concerns.
Eating crickets and other insects dates back hundreds of years. This is especially true in less-developed nations, where they are considered a healthy food option and a delicacy to be savored. Crickets are a healthy protein source that may be produced with less effort and expense than conventional meats like beef, pork, and chicken.
Sounds intriguing? Well, then, read on…
First Of All, What Are Crickets?
Photo Credit Crickets are orthopteran insects related to bush crickets and, to a lesser extent, grasshoppers.
There are about 2,500 different species of cricket, most of which are found in temperate climates. These insects are most well-known for their unusual chirping sounds, which they produce by rubbing their front wings together. Crickets are seen as a symbol of luck in many cultures and are often highlighted in literature and folklore. Jiminy Cricket, from Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio,” is undoubtedly the most well-known fictional cricket.
For the most part, people mistake crickets for their distant relatives, the grasshoppers. However, crickets have more spherical bodies, rounded heads, and long antennas.
People in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have been eating crickets as food since ancient times. According to the Bible, God approved of eating crickets and told the Israelites, “These you may eat any species of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper” (Leviticus 11: 22).
Recently, the biggest grocery store in Canada, Loblaws, began selling cricket flour.
The item itself is not brand-new, and it has been available for a while in various specialty shops all over the world. However, President’s Choice, a private label owned by Loblaw, is the first significant Canadian retailer to carry the item.
In addition, in the last ten years, these chirping insects have become increasingly popular as a protein source among climate activists and bodybuilders across the United States. And yet, many remain skeptical about whether or not it’s okay to eat crickets.
But, Why Would You Eat Crickets?
Photo Credit Crickets are a nutritious food that is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Have you ever considered how the water supply, global warming, and the foods you eat every day are all interconnected? If the answer is no, you should really give it a thought or two! Our fate in this rapidly evolving world will depend on the foods we eat.
For example, beef production has a significant impact on climate change because of the emissions of greenhouse gases. From what we can tell, cattle are responsible for anywhere between 7% and 18% of all anthropogenic methane emissions worldwide.
Similarly, it takes 518 gallons of water to create one lb. of chicken. This cannot continue as global droughts worsen, and world temperatures increase. Therefore, we must seek out alternative food and protein sources, and this is where crickets come into play.
Here are the top five arguments in favor of eating crickets:
The Population Is Growing, And Crickets Can Assist.
In 2050, the world’s population is predicted to hit 9 billion. That’s more people than our planet can handle right now. Crickets are a great source of protein and nourishment and can also be a source of income for people in third-world countries.
Protein shortages in underdeveloped as well as developed and developing countries can be helped by including crickets in the diet as a cheap and efficient source of protein. Moreover, farming crickets can be done on a small scale, with great results, and at a low cost.
It may be difficult to overcome your aversion to eating crickets, but the benefits you’ll get in terms of taste, nutrition, and helping save the world will more than makeup for it.
The Variety Of Crickets Is Enormous.
Crickets have over 2,000 kinds and come in various shapes and sizes. Those who have just discovered bugs will find the cricket flour to be the most convenient.
Some people have compared the mild cricket flavor to that of nuts or even popcorn.
A few tablespoons of cricket flour can add protein and other nutrients to just about any dish. Smoothies, baked goods, and even sauces can benefit from cricket flour. Those who are more courageous can also add whole roasted crickets to their meals.
As a snack, you can eat them plain, dip them in chocolate, or sprinkle them with your favorite spice mix. Or, put them in your tacos or fried rice, and you’ll have a new favorite meal.
Ecologically, Crickets Make A Lot Of Sense.
Photo Credit Eating crickets as a sustainable alternative to meat can help mitigate climate change.
The current system of animal agriculture is a significant contributor to climate change. Cow farts are heating our planet. I joke, but it’s not a joke. And according to Water Foot Print, it takes 1600 liters of water to produce just 1 kilogram of meat from cattle.
That’s primarily due to the quantity of water needed to cultivate food for the cattle. Three-eighths of all cultivated land is used for agriculture right now.
As our population increases, this cannot continue. With the current trajectory of events, 2050 does not look like a particularly hopeful future. This is where eating crickets can help!
Eating insects like crickets can be a sustainable alternative to meat, which can help mitigate climate change. The environmental impact of eating insects is low compared to other animal protein sources because they produce less greenhouse emissions, use less water, and necessitate less food to grow.
Related: 50 Edible Bugs We Dare You To Try (Some Might Surpise You)
Crickets Pack A Powerful Nutritional Punch.
Crickets have a great nutrient profile and are an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. Crickets have a protein content of approximately 65%, although other insects can contain as much as 80 percent protein.
It may come as a surprise, but the iron content of some insects, including crickets, is comparable to or even higher than that of beef. In addition, crickets are a source of complete protein, which indicates that they have all of the necessary amino acids in their structure.
Lastly, crickets are rich in calcium, vitamin B12, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Two Billion People Worldwide Already Eat Bugs!
Worldwide, crickets are the most often consumed bug. Insects are a staple of traditional cuisine in many parts of the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Crickets have become a popular food option in nations where cattle, poultry, and fish are in short supply due to population growth and economic development.
From a Westerner’s point of view, crickets, however, do not appear to be very tasty. But at one time, neither did lobsters. In fact, they were once called the roaches of the sea.
Now, many people think of lobster as a delicious treat. It’s unlikely that steaks, chicken wings, or pork chops will be replaced by roasted bugs anytime soon, but items from the beginning of the food chain (crickets and other bugs) are now entering the retail market.
And, Eating Crickets Is Healthy As Well!
Photo Credit Crickets are high in protein, healthy fats, minerals including calcium and iron, and fiber.
If they are fed high-quality food, crickets can have an outstanding nutritional profile. Moreover, up to 80 percent of their bodies can be consumed and broken down into usable nutrients, which is more when compared to the production of chicken, pork, and beef.
The following is a full list of advantages that can be gained from eating crickets:
Crickets Are Good For Gut Health
Chitin, an insoluble fiber found in crickets, could be good for intestinal health. Chitin works as a prebiotic, promoting the development of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
A 2018 study demonstrated that taking 25 grams of cricket powder daily for two weeks enhanced good gut bacteria and lowered inflammatory markers.
In addition, those who ate cricket powder had lower levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a cytokine linked to inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, than those who ate a control diet.
These data suggest crickets may improve gut health. However, scientists need further research to understand how eating crickets may damage intestinal health.
Crickets Are Vitamin & Mineral Rich!
Not only are crickets a good source of protein, but they are also a good source of magnesium, copper, fat, calcium, potassium, pantothenic acid, zinc, folate, biotin, and iron.
According to one study, crickets have an iron concentration 180 percent more than beef. Calcium and riboflavin, a B vitamin, were also found in greater concentrations in crickets than in common meats such as beef, pork, and chicken.
In addition, crickets are a good source of fat, particularly polyunsaturated fatty acids. Several studies have found a connection between these and positive health effects, including reductions in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Crickets Are Gluten & Dairy Free
Consuming crickets is a fantastic alternative for people who have to stay away from dairy products if they want to take protein or calcium supplements. Additionally, cricket powder is an excellent choice for individuals looking for alternatives that do not contain gluten.
So, packed with protein, cricket powder has all nine essential amino acids and is a wonderful alternative to many standard protein shakes and powders.
Related: Common Types of Houseplant Bugs: Who They are & How to Get Rid of Them?
Popular Cricket Dishes Around The World
Insects that are raised in a clean environment are safe to consume raw. However, you should cook them if you are not one hundred percent confident of the origin of your crickets.
Cooking improves the texture of the crickets, making them easier to chew and amplifying the insects’ flavor. Here are some of my favorite cricket dishes from around the world.
Crispy Cricket Tacos
Photo Credit Here are some unique tacos that you have never tried before!
There is no guarantee that everyone will desire to prepare this dish at home or that they will even be able to do it. However, it is a massive hit in Mexico and other places worldwide.
I seasoned my bugs in order to make chile-lime tacos, and while they may not be for everybody, I can honestly say that I am incredibly happy that we tried them!
You can find the entire recipe for Crispy Cricket Tacos right here.
The crickets have a fantastic flavor because of all the yummy seasoning, and they are not nasty, despite what you might be thinking!
Thai Sweet Potato Curry Cricket
Photo Credit Are you looking for a new source of protein? Cricket flour might be the answer.
Any food can have around a quarter cup of cricket powder added to it, and no one will even notice the difference. That is precisely what the CulturEatz did to a Thai recipe that they discovered while traveling in Thailand. And to tell you the truth, the Thai people couldn’t care less! The people of Thailand enjoy their cricket food very much.
They began with a list of Thai sweet potato recipes and selected one that appeared to be an easy recipe for sweet potato curry. Then, they modified it to include crickets.
You can get the complete recipe right here if you’re interested in giving it a shot.
Spicy Cricket Fritters
Photo Credit These fritters will make your mouth water with their deliciousness!
Making these Spicy Cricket Fritters is another fantastic way to put your cricket powder (also known as cricket flour) to good use! These are dangerously good, especially when served fresh from the pan or with a tasty dipping sauce inspired by Thai cuisine.
These spicy fritters, made with cricket flour, give a delicious way to have a meal full of protein and will be enjoyed by everyone in your family.
Children typically respond with a pleading, “More, please.”
Fresh sweet corn, fiery jalapeno, and chill chipotle sour cream dip come together in this one-of-a-kind cricket powder recipe for a fritter that is absolutely out of this world.
But, Are There Any Risks To Eating Crickets?
Photo Credit Crickets can be parasitic if they’ve eaten items that make them unsafe to eat.
In spite of the fact that crickets may have a positive impact on one’s health, many people in Western nations continue to be wary of food products that contain crickets because of the perceived risk of contamination. Very few studies have been done on the topic, but what there is reveals that consuming cricket products like cricket protein powder is perfectly safe and does not result in any negative health impacts on healthy people.
In general, however, there is a need for additional research to better understand the potential dangers that come with consuming insects like crickets. In some studies, researchers have expressed concern that certain insects, such as crickets, may act as vectors for the transmission of viruses that can infect both animals and people.
In a study, a total of 300 domestic insect ranches and pet shops in Europe were examined by researchers for their insect samples in a study. According to the findings of the study, parasites were present in more than 80 percent of the insect ranches. In 30% of cases, researchers detected human-disease-causing parasites as well.
This does not necessarily imply that there are health risks associated with consuming insects. It merely brings attention to the fact that similar to the consumption of animals, the ingestion of insects might make you sick. As a result, insect farms that produce crickets for food need to adhere to stringent safety rules if they want to protect their customers.
Similarly, several studies have shown evidence that individuals who are allergic to shellfish or dust mites may also experience allergic reactions while eating insects.
However, there is a lack of studies in this field at the moment, and researchers need to carry out additional studies to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the possibility of allergic reactions being triggered by eating insects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it healthy to eat crickets?
People in many different parts of the world consume crickets because they are very cheap and contain many essential nutrients. For example, crickets are an excellent source of minerals, protein, fat, vitamins, and fiber and could benefit your gut’s health.
What happens if you eat crickets?
You won’t experience anything strange if you eat crickets. Insect bodies, such as those of crickets, are primarily made of simple protein. You will, therefore, just gain a protein boost. Additionally, although crickets, like many other insects, can be consumed alive, cooking them instead makes for a more excellent meal.
Do crickets taste good?
Crickets have a flavor that is all their own, which can be described as nutty and somewhat smokey, with a trace of tartness on the base of the tongue. Also, they have a really umami flavor that, when roasting, becomes more pronounced.
Aside from that, crickets are delicious!
Are any crickets poisonous?
Is it true that crickets are dangerous? This is a question we frequently get. The answer, in a word, is no. There is no evidence that crickets are poisonous to humans. These vocal insects are essentially simply a nuisance pest, especially if their concerts keep you awake at night.
Do crickets have more protein than beef?
On a weight basis, crickets have two to three times the amount of complete protein as a beef steak. Additionally, eating crickets will boost your intake of iron, minerals, and fiber.
And crickets have complete protein, which is just a fancy name for proteins that have every single amino acid your body needs.
Sources For Further Reading
Eating crickets can be good for your gut, according to a new clinical trial. (2018). Retrieved 25 September 2022, from https://news.wisc.edu/eating-crickets-can-be-good-for-your-gut-according-to-new-clinical-trial/
Bennett, J. (2018). CSU researcher studies impact of eating crickets on gut health – College of Health and Human Sciences. Retrieved 25 September 2022, from https://chhs.source.colostate.edu/csu-researcher-studies-impact-of-eating-crickets-on-gut-health-2/
Students served crickets. (2022). Retrieved 25 September 2022, from https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/students-served-crickets/
Eating Insects Might Seem Yucky, But They Are Nutritious. (2022). Retrieved 25 September 2022, from https://www.rutgers.edu/news/eating-insects-might-seem-yucky-they-are-nutritious
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