Hold back on the beef, eat a bug

BY ROLAND FLEMING

It might be time to cut back on beef and start eating bugs, according to Entomo Farms co-founder Jarrod Goldin.

“I think if people are into lifestyles of health and sustainability … it’s something they should be open-minded about,” he said.

Goldin, along with his brothers Darren and Ryan, started a bug farming business just over three years ago and were the first to start a farm of this kind in Canada. Initially the farm was about 5,000 square feet but has since expanded to 60,000 square feet due to the increased demand for their product.

During March break last week, Entomo Farms sponsored and supplied the ingredients for the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory’s annual Bug Feast. Visitors to the conservatory had the chance to sample a few different recipes.

“Our first one is a dry roasted cricket with maple bacon seasoning … then we have a mini pancake made with cricket flour and the last one is maple fudge with dry roasted beetle larva,” said conservatory staff member Tara Malatches.

For those who are a little squeamish when it comes to eating bugs Malatches suggested starting with the pancake.

“That’s the easiest one to start with because you can’t see the bugs.”

While the pancakes were easier to swallow, the roasted crickets were a little less visually appealing and harder to stomach for some visitors. Liam Bergsma, one of the many kids to visit Bug Feast, enjoyed the pancakes but wasn’t as keen on the roasted cricket.

“I see the leg of the cricket separated from the body, I am not eating that,” said Liam.

Malatches said, “The cricket is actually my favourite. If you can get over the fact that it’s just a dry roasted cricket in a cup, they’re pretty tasty.”

While the shock value does help in bringing visitors to the conservatory, there are actually benefits both for our planet and for our health in eating insects.

“They are more sustainable to breed and farm, they take less water, less feed and less room and they have more protein than your average serving of beef, pork or chicken,” said Malatches.

Goldin echoed these sentiments saying that he would encourage others to eat insects for two simple reasons.

“If they care about their own health it’s probably the healthiest form of protein and if they care about the planet it’s probably the most sustainable form of protein, not probably, it is.”

On the Entomo Farms’ website there are many facts provided on how their cricket powder is both healthy and environmentally friendly. Usual sources of meat protein would include beef, pork or chicken. Beef is one of the most inefficient sources of protein to produce in terms of the amount of resources required.

In fact, one of their claims is that 12 times less resources are needed to create 10 grams of cricket flour then are needed to create 10 grams of beef protein. They also state that if one family of four were to use cricket flour as an alternative protein source for one day a week, it would save the planet 650,000 litres of fresh water per year.

Another environmental benefit that could come from substituting insect protein for meat protein, is a reduction in carbon emissions.

“Twenty per cent of all carbon emissions come from meat farming. The No. 1 contributor to global warming is meat farming,” said Goldin.

Bug farming creates next to no emissions and also requires fewer resources, and has a far higher conversion rate from the feed you give them to the amount of food produced.

“Cows convert feed to food at about 10 per cent … whereas insects convert at like 70 per cent,” said Goldin.

This means that for every 100 kilograms of feed given to a cow, it would only produce about 10 kilograms of food for consumption. The same weight of feed given to crickets would produce around 70 kilograms of food.

The environment wouldn’t be the only thing that would stand to benefit from increased consumption of insects though. The cricket flour, which accounts for 90 per cent of Entomo Farms’ business, is also highly nutritious. It boasts having 65 grams of protein in every 100 grams of flour. It is also high in other nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and fibre.
Entomo Farms is located in Norwood, Ont. To see the products offered and to order online, go to www.entomofarms.com.

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