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Crickets for Food? Bugs Show Protein Potential

Aaron T. Dossey (Courtesy of Growing Georgia)

Aaron T. Dossey (Courtesy of Growing Georgia)

By Allison Floyd
Monday, November 10th, 2014

Aaron Dossey thinks crickets might be the next big product for farmers, a drought tolerant crop that could be a valuable food source one day.

Dossey and a handful of other researchers around the world are working to refine the process to dry and pulverize crickets into a powder that can be used as a food supplement for health conscious consumers or malnourished children in parts of the world that can’t support livestock production.

Incorporating bugs into food (rather than trying to keep them out) isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

“One of the largest food manufacturers in the world bought 100 pounds (of Dossey’s cricket powder) and is working with it,” he said. Cricket powder appeared as an ingredient on the Food Network show “Chopped,” and a group of Harvard researchers are using it to create a tortilla chip. Dossey’s powder has been included in bars made by Exo (which is available on JetBlue flights) and Chapul, a company featured on the show “Shark Tank.”

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INSIDE THE EDIBLE INSECT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

Larvae from Next Millennium Farms (Courtesy of Fast Company)

Larvae from Next Millennium Farms (Courtesy of Fast Company)

AS HUMANS EAT MORE BUGS, A $20 MILLION INDUSTRY HAS SPRUNG UP—COMPLETE WITH EDIBLE INSECT BUSINESS CONSULTANTS.

BY ANYA HOFFMAN

Each morning after arriving at his office in Youngstown, Ohio, Kevin Bachhuber steps into the 5,000-square-foot warehouse and listens to his crickets chirping. The owner and founder of Big Cricket Farms, which raises insects exclusively for human consumption, Bachhuber knows that the frequency and sound of crickets’ chirps can be an indicator of their well-being. And in order for his brand-new company to survive, so must the crickets. At least for now.

Big Cricket Farms opened for business this past April. The startup’s customers are restaurants and distributors as well as businesses that process crickets for food-product companies, and Bachhuber has been shocked at the strength of the demand. “I thought I was going to be laboring in obscurity for 12 to 18 months minimum,” he said. “I’m currently back-ordered by thousands of pounds.” The original business plan called for three years to realize profits; now it looks like he’ll hit that mark after just one.

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Insect cuisine: not food for insects, insects for food

Julie Smitka, junior in physics and philosophy (Courtesy of Technician Online)

Julie Smitka, junior in physics and philosophy (Courtesy of Technician Online)

Tyler Gobin, Staff Columnist

The average male’s dorm room or apartment has at least two different brands of supplemented protein powder. It serves as a meal supplement for students on the go and post-workout shakes to maximize the anabolic window. Protein is an irreplaceable part of growing muscles and vital for any college student trying to maximize his or her training. But protein powder regiments can become monotonous, and some flavors can be downright disgusting. Why not boost your supplements with an extremely nutritional and overlooked source of protein—insects?

An estimated two billion people in developing countries worldwide already depend on more than 1,900 different species of insects for food according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Insect cuisine has long been an important part of diets around the world. Recipes incorporating bugs into snacks, main courses and even desserts exist in many cultures. Unfortunately, insect cuisine is only a niche market in the United States despite its nutritious and sustainable advantages.

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Insects in flour can be a good thing, yes, really

Laurie Keeler (Courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Laurie Keeler (Courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

The idea of eating insects bugs many people in the United States, but some food product developers hope that will change.

Entomophagy consuming insects is not new, and it isn’t always considered yucky. In Africa, for example, millions of people consume insects not only for sustenance but because they think insects are tasty. In the United States and Europe, not so much.

That’s unfortunate, said Laurie Keeler, senior manager of product development in The Food Processing Center.

“Many edible insects are high in protein and other nutrients, and there are many different ways to process insects and use them in food products that are quite palatable,” she said.

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Feeding the world with bugs

The answer to feeding the world’s growing population? Bugs, according to experts at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

Currently, approximately 70% of agricultural land – and 30% of total land on earth – is used to raise livestock. If we’re going to feed 9 billion-plus people in 2050, our eating habits will need to change.

“Insects require less feed, less water, less land and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” said Aaron Dossey, PhD, owner and founder of All Things Bugs, a US company that provides protein-rich insect powder for commercial use.

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The Next New Miracle Superfood: Insects, Scientists Say

Want to boost your energy with high-quality, low-fat protein? Look no further than bugs.

According to panel discussions held at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) meeting late last month in New Orleans, insects are the food of the future. Not only are they good for you, they’re a low-cost alternative to animal protein with far less impact on the environment.

And if this sounds ridiculously futuristic, think again; cricket-based protein powders are already hitting the market here in the U.S.

“Some insects are as much as 80 percent protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins,” said IFT panelist Aaron Dossey. “They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.” Insect protein is also easily digested….

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Life Is Like a Box of Bugs

Image credit: IFT Live

Image credit: IFT Live

Because of the deleterious effect animal agriculture has on the water supply and other natural reserves, new food sources must be considered. The practice of growing and consuming animals for protein is not sustainable. So what’s the alternative? Insects. During the session “Real Pioneers: Experience with Insect Ingredients, Processing, Products, and Marketing, speakers discussed the virtues and necessity of adding insects to the Western diet. Pat Crowley of Chapul Inc. said that insects are extremely nutritious and, in some cases, more nutritious than animal protein sources. Crowley first considered using insects as a food source when he learned that insects are a part of diets around the globe while he was doing conservation.

Close to 2,000 varieties of insects are eaten around the world, but the United States and Western Europe have cultural and psychological barriers to eating them. Crowley’s mission is to introduce insects into Western cuisine as a healthy sustainable protein. He had encountered significant resistance to the cricket-based energy bars he developed, but an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank” helped change perception and increase acceptance.

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All Things Bugs…So What If You Want To Try Some Insect Powder?

Dr. Aaron T. Dossey

So where can manufacturers get hold of some insect flour to play with?

One man who can help is Dr Aaron T Dossey, Georgia-based bug enthusiast and founder of All Things Bugs, who is working with a contract manufacturer in the northeast to produce ingredients (initially whole cricket powder, but in future a whole bunch of other bug-based products from meal-worm powders to meat replacements) using his patented process.

Unlike some other cricket crushers, Dr Dossey grinds the frozen insects before drying and heat treating them to kill any microbes. This is more efficient than drying the whole insects and then milling them, he claims, as it requires less heat (insect bodies are made to withstand heat and conserve moisture) and preserves more nutrients.

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Feeding the world with bugs

The answer to feeding the world’s growing population? Bugs, according to experts at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

Currently, approximately 70% of agricultural land – and 30% of total land on earth – is used to raise livestock. If we’re going to feed 9 billion-plus people in 2050, our eating habits will need to change.

“Insects require less feed, less water, less land and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” said Aaron Dossey, PhD, owner and founder of All Things Bugs, a US company that provides protein-rich insect powder for commercial use.

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Insects As The Food Of The Future

CHICAGO, June 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As the human population grows, it is critical that the drain on the planet’s resources be lessened by decreasing consumption of animal protein. According to two panel discussions on June 23 and 24 at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in New Orleans, insects are a promising, economically viable alternative source of high quality protein that leave a substantially smaller environmental footprint.

The world adds about 70 million people each year to the population. If worldwide growth continues at the current rate, the population is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, adding twice the current population of China. Approximately 70 percent of agricultural land, and 30 percent of the total land on earth, is currently used to raise livestock, the world’s main source of protein.

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FINELY MILLED WHOLE CRICKET POWDER

1 Pound Sample Bags Now Available

NEW sample bags starting at $39 per pound. Check out our products today! Contact us about Discounts our 30 pound bags for larger volume orders. info@allthingsbugs.com

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