Most Americans do not salivate at the thought of biting into a cricket, so why are products made with cricket protein showing up in grocery stores across the country?
In countries where meat is a treat rather than a staple, insects can be an important source of iron, zinc, calcium, protein and unsaturated fats. In fact, in 2013 the United Nations issued a report encouraging the use of edible insects. Although our world's human population is growing, our land and water resources are not. Insects help to solve this problem in a few different ways:
- Insects are typically low in saturated fat and can be a lean source of protein
- Insects require much less feed, water and land than other animal sources of protein
- Insects produce fewer greenhouse gasses than other animal sources of protein
Worldwide, beetles are the most commonly consumed insect, but in the U.S. cricket protein has been popping up in mainstream grocery stores. This is probably because crickets are the only insects that can be farmed economically. They also can contain just as much protein as beef. One-hundred grams of crickets contains about 120 calories and 8-25 grams of protein, while 100 grams of sirloin steak contains about 200 calories and 19-26 grams of protein. Crickets are similar to shellfish, so those who are allergic to shellfish should stay away from cricket protein and flour.
In the U.S., you are most likely to see crickets marketed in protein bars or as a high protein flour that can be used in baked goods or as a protein supplement. If you want to try an animal protein that is better for you and the environment (or just want to gross out your friends) consider cricket protein.
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