Is eating crickets good for you?
By weight, crickets are a much more efficient source of protein and nutrition than their more common meat-based counterparts.
Per 100 grams, crickets contain about 65 grams of protein, while red meat contains around half of that, and chicken around 27 grams.
“One tablespoon of cricket protein powder contains 13 grams of digestible protein as well as 40 per cent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium and iron, 100 per cent of your daily B12, zinc magnesium, manganese and phosphorous needs and half your omega 3s,” Blackburn says.
“It also has all of these amazing micronutrients, is really low in carbohydrates and is a source of probiotic fibre, which is really good for gut health.”
Despite the benefits, Blackburn says some people are still hesitant to try bugs.
“When we eat a steak, we don’t call it ‘cow’ and it doesn’t look like a cow anymore,” Skye says. “It’s the same with insects. Once people realise that when we talk about eating insect proteins, we’re not talking about eating them whole; there are no legs, wings or antennae. Once people get over that initial barrier, it’s not that scary to be eating insects.”
Are insects the future of food?
These days, food manufacturers and retailers are starting to cotton on to the enormous potential insects pose to the future of food. Recent studies predict the edible insect industry will be worth more than $710 billion (USD) by 2026 and, if current trends are anything to go by, it seems the edible bugs industry has already got ants in its pants.
Ready-to-eat insect-based products are now lining supermarket shelves (cricket protein chips, anyone?), you can find green-ant gin at your local liquor retailers, and larger companies are starting to include insects in their research and development.
“When we first started doing this nobody had heard about insect-based protein before,” Blackburn says. “So we were making more novel products – like ant lollipops and milk chocolate with mealworms – to get people thinking about them as food.”
Fast forward to now and whether you're after straight up roasted crickets, cricket corn chips or high-protein almond granola with cricket powder - to name just some of the innovative products in the ready-to-eat bug food range - insects are filling a gap for healthy, nutrient-dense snacks that utilise local, sustainable food sources. There's even a green ant gin, if you feel like bugging your next G&T.
“Retail buyers are recognising that people are looking for these kinds of products and are starting to range them,” Skye says. “Instead of purchasing a bag of corn chips that has no nutrition, you can buy something that looks and tastes exactly the same but that has been enriched with invisible protein.”