Crickets: a solution to food instability

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Patrick Crowley, Founder and CEO of Chapul, Inc. spoke to UVU students and faculty Feb. 22 about his company and their unique product – energy bars made from crickets.

“They’re one of the most commonly eaten insects around the world,” said Pat Crowley, who founded Chapul in 2012, and was featured on the television show Shark Tank.

Chapul starts by freezing and washing the crickets, followed by a period of slow roasting, and then the crickets go through a rigorous grinding process.

Crowley admits that the idea of eating bugs does not appeal to everyone, but assures the method of harvesting and preparing the crickets is just as sanitary as raising cattle or chickens.

“There is virtually no chance that you will end up biting into a cricket leg.”  Said Crowley. “We knew if we were going to be introducing the concept of insects, it had to be in a very delicious package.”

Chapul represents something more than a new and innovative energy bar, but could be a possible method of improving the quality of air, because crickets require significantly less resources to raise and maintain than other livestock.

“The idea is catching on,” Crowley said. “People are just that much more aware of the un-sustainability of our current food system. A lot more people are willing to try something new because we know we need to make some large-scale changes.”

Not only does the prospect of large-scale replacement of traditional livestock with crickets offer a possible economical solution to many obstacles within the food industry, but it may also help slow down the process of global warming by reducing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere.

In a report generated from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, it states, “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

Aside from the production of methane gas, livestock are also depleting Earth’s fresh water reservoirs, which some hydrologists have claimed is a resource that is slowly running thin.

The World Wildlife Foundation conducted a study that found 70 percent of the worlds available fresh water is being used for the purpose of raising livestock.

“There’s only a few places on the insect body where they allow the water to escape,” said Diane Alston, an Entomologist at Utah State University. “They don’t have to consume a large amount of water to maintain a sustainable moisture level.”

Crowley claims that crickets use roughly 1 percent as much water resources as traditional livestock like chickens and cattle.

Adding insects to the food pyramid won’t happen overnight, and many researchers agree that traditional livestock will be a featured dish for years to come.  However, farms with more chirping crickets may be more environmentally and economically sustainable.