Why crickets are the future of protein

by Jess Tran December 02, 2016

At this point, you’ve probably stumbled upon an article online that proclaimed crickets as the future of protein. It’s hard to escape. Global Market Insights reports that the edible insect industry will be worth over $522M by 2023, and with a wave of new investment, media coverage, and athlete endorsements, the tide is slowly turning in cricket protein’s favor.

This is all happening because people are wising up to the fact that cricket protein conserves huge amounts of valuable environmental resources while maintaining optimal nutrition. We’ve known this here at Exo from the beginning, and so does most of the globe. Over two billion people around the world eat insects, and edible insects are mentioned in literature spanning back centuries (we’re talking the Bible!).

According to the United Nations, nine billion people will occupy the Earth by 2050, and in order to feed this growing population we’ll need to double food production in the developing world.

Enter the humble cricket. Although small in size, it packs a mighty nutritional punch. Here are some of the reasons why crickets will be the future of protein:

Crickets are 20x more resource-efficient than cattle at producing protein.

Currently, a third of the world’s land is used for some sort of agriculture, including rearing livestock. A 2009 study estimated that factory livestock is responsible for 50 percent of the world's man-made greenhouse gases - that’s more than cars! With a tiny eco footprint, crickets are looking to be a much more sustainable protein source - they produce 80x less methane than cows, for instance.

Crickets eat much less than other animals. One pound of crickets requires just under two pounds of feed, compared to 25 pounds of feed needed to produce one pound of beef. That’s twelve times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to get the same amount of protein.

They also grow much faster - the average life span of a cricket is a mere 7 weeks from egg to adult, allowing cricket farmers to yield much larger batches of insects to be used in protein bars like ours.

It’s more ethical to harvest crickets than farm livestock.

Naturally, crickets live in very crowded conditions with very little water and space - they actually thrive in these types of environments.

There have also been studies that show crickets and other insects actually lack certain pain receptors and experience pain far differently to mammals. This is one of the reasons why a lot of our customers are actually vegetarians and vegans yet still choose to eat insects. If vegetarianism/veganism is spawned out of ethics, crickets are a far better choice, and if it’s for environmental reasons, there’s no better alternative.

Eating crickets is a cultural adventure.

Ask over 80% of the world’s countries and they will not blink an eyelid at the thought of eating insects. More people eat bugs than speak English around the world! People have been eating crickets for centuries, you can even read about it in the Old Testament says: “You are encouraged to consume locusts, beetles and grasshoppers”. All around the world, people eat bugs - from South America to Africa.

Western consumers aren’t familiar with entomophagy or the nutritional and environmental benefits of crickets, and that’s set to change.

We like to compare crickets’ cultural trajectory and place at the dinner table to the journey of sushi - rewind a few decades ago and the thought of raw fish was repulsive to the American public - but only because of a lack of experience and familiarity. Once a West coast chef invented the California roll, providing a gateway vehicle for Americans to consume something previously too unknown, sushi slowly became a huge part of the American diet, and you can now find it everywhere from airports to school cafeterias.

We predict the same cultural shift for crickets - this is why we’re trying to normalize the consumption of crickets by including insect protein in products that you know and love - protein bars made by a three Michelin star chef, made from all natural ingredients. It’s all about cultural perception.

They’re an amazing source of nutrition.

Last but definitely not least, crickets are a nutritional gold mine. They’re high in protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, low in fat and calories. That’s just the beginning.

Crickets are 69% protein by weight - let’s say you eat 100 grams of cricket - 69 grams is pure protein. Identical servings of chicken will only yield 31 grams, and dried beef has only 43 grams. Protein is so important to any diet - from the most hardcore bodybuilder to the active mom looking to build and maintain muscle. The protein in crickets also has all nine essential amino acids, making it a perfect alternative protein source.

In addition to protein, crickets contain 2.2x more iron than and more calcium than milk, gram for gram, as well as being packed with B-vitamins.

Omega-3s don’t only come in oily fish, either. Crickets are a dense source of omega-3s, rich in essential fatty acids that help you lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis - omega-3s can also assist your memory and cognitive performance.

It’s a true superfood, and it’s time it is rediscovered.

Jess Tran
Jess Tran


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