Cricket powder will be available under the President’s Choice product line
By Diego Flammini
A Peterborough County farm will supply a national grocery chain with a unique product for store shelves.
Entomo Farms from Norwood, Ont. will provide Loblaws with cricket powder that’s sold under the President’s Choice product line. The farm is North America’s first and largest insect farm for human consumption.
The fact that a national chain shows an interest in entomophagy, the human consumption of insects, illustrates a change in the way people think about food, said Jarrod Goldin, who helped co-found the now 6,100 square-metre (65,659 square-foot) farm in 2014.
“It’s great to see companies like this that want to innovate and challenge the Canadian palate,” Goldin told Farms.com today. “It’s really forward thinking and we certainly feel there’s a demand for people who want to eat healthy food. To have the Loblaws brand behind us is validation that people are open to insect protein.”
Crickets have more protein than beef, are a healthy source of fat, are high in iron, fibre and other nutrients, Entomo’s website states. Globally, 2 billion people eat insects as part of their traditional diets, with more than 1,900 species of insects used as food, according to a 2013 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report. Insect protein could be important with a global population expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050, the report documents.
Entomo harvests its crickets every six weeks.
More than 100 million crickets are housed in three retrofitted chicken barns. The specific species of cricket has a lifecycle of about seven weeks and, prior to harvest, some crickets lay eggs to replenish the population, Goldin said.
The harvested crickets are transported to a processing facility where they are either whole roasted as a snack food or turned into the powder customers will see on shelves in Loblaws stores. This powder can be used for cooking, baking or as a garnish.
Crickets also have some agricultural uses.
Beef, hog and poultry producers can feed crickets to their animals.
“Preliminary studies are showing better survival rates of hatchlings and better growth rates in chickens,” Goldin said.
Members of the horticulture industry can also make use of the insects.
Cricket manure can be applied to fruit and vegetable crops as a natural fertilizer, Goldin said.
“The manure makes for a fantastic fertilizer,” he said. “A tomato farmer could use the fertilizer to increase yields, protect the root system and protect the soil. We’ve been working with universities to understand exactly how the manure works to benefit plants.”