You may be creeped out by the thought of eating insects, but cricket flour is actually the new health food that can be conveniently hidden in delicious cupcakes. Cricket flour is quickly gaining popularity as a healthy protein source without the environmental, economic, and health concerns that come with meats.
I believe animal protein is a very important part of a healthy diet, and that grass-fed and pasture-raised meats are healthy foods. But if you struggle to get enough healthy proteins because they cost too much or you can’t always find a good local farmer, or you simply just want a break from meat for a little while, cricket protein is a good alternative.
What Is a Cricket?
A cricket is a grasshopper-like insect that is also known for its nighttime chirping.
The house cricket, or Acheta domestica, has its root in southeast Asia but has spread worldwide and made its home in North America. It is farmed in Thailand for human consumption because it has superior taste to other insect species.
Cricket Flour: The Eco-Friendly Protein Source
Even though grass-fed beef and poultry are relatively friendlier to the environment, per gram of protein, cricket flour still wins in many ways.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to beef, crickets emit (source):
- virtually no methane gas
- 1% of carbon dioxide
- a third of ammonia per kg of body weight per day
In addition, crickets grow about 20 times faster than cows, which means they require much less resources to grow. Crickets require less than half the farming area to generate the same amount of protein as do meats (source).
Are Insects Really Edible?
Insects have been part of the human diet for thousands of years, especially in hotter climates where bugs can be harvested year-round. Nowadays, over 80% of nations consume insects as part of their diets. In some cultures, it is considered a delicacy. (source)
While bugs have not become a staple in the Western diet, you likely have eaten some insects as the FDA allows for some insect parts in food products (source).
In 2013, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations proposed that insects are the food of the future because they require much less to grow that meat, yet pack the nutrient punch of meats. If you have eaten fruits, vegetables, and spices, you have definitely eaten insects.
What Is Cricket Flour?
Cricket flour is made by whole-milling cooked crickets that have been dried. It is a whole, unprocessed food and not an isolated protein source.
Cricket flour has a mild nutty taste that many people like. With 2/3 of the content being pure protein, many people use it as a protein powder. In addition, cricket flour can substitute for 25% of the flour content in any baking recipe to increase protein content.
Cricket Flour Nutrition
Per ounce (28.35 g), cricket flour contains:
- 19.8 grams of protein, including 3.68 g of branched-chain amino acids
- 2.4 grams of chitin (fiber)
- 5.4 grams of fat
- 272 micrograms of vitamin B12, or 113% daily value
- 2% daily value each of iron and calcium
As a food source from animals, cricket flour is a good source of vitamin B12, B2, calcium, and iron. In addition, even though beef is a great source of iron and other minerals on its own, a study showed that the minerals from crickets are in fact more bio-available than minerals from beef (source).
Weight for weight, cricket flour has three times more protein than beef. The protein in cricket flour is high in branched-chain amino acids, which helps generate energy within the muscles and with muscle growth, so it makes a good post-workout protein source.
Because cricket flour is made from whole insects, it contains a type of fiber called chitin, which is usually found in the cricket’s hard shells (exoskeleton). The chitin might provide some of the binding effects which allow it to work well in baking ingredients. In addition, it may act like a normal dietary fiber, bulking up stools and feeding our good gut bacteria. The last, but not least, added benefit of chitin is that it also may also help prevent parasitic infection and some allergic conditions.
Safety Concerns with Eating Crickets?
Although crickets are safe to eat, you want to avoid catching and eating crickets that are found in the house, because you really don’t know what they eat or if they have been exposed to pesticides.
As with any new food source, you want to treat it with caution and slowly introduce it into your diet in gradual amounts. If you have an allergy to other insects, shellfish, or dust mites, it is possible that you could be allergic to crickets as well, so try it with caution.
The Cricket Flour I Use
Generally, cricket flours that are sold on the market are made from farmed crickets. Because cricket flour is a food product, cricket farming is subject to some regulations with respect to food production standards and cleanliness. However, since the practice of farming insects for human consumption is still relatively new, the laws governing cricket farms are still evolving, and most cricket farms are more hip startups than full fledged farms (source).
Because you are what you (or the bug you eat) eat, you want to make sure you get your cricket flour from reputable sources that feed the bugs well.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, the crickets will have to be fed gluten-free feed as well as certified gluten-free, and preferably fed a grain-free diet.
I personally use Thailand Unique cricket flour because it is 100% pure cricket, vegetable-fed, and grown on an FDA-certified farm. It tastes great and mixes well in recipes.
I am also a big fan of the Exo protein bar, which is one of the few nutrition bars that are 100% whole foods and tastes great without harmful or allergenic ingredients. It is available in both savory and sweet flavors, and the sweet ones are not too sweet.
Your turn! Ever tried crickets or cricket flour before? How about any other “bugs” or insects? If so, how did you like it? Share below!
Discussion (47 Comments)
While I can’t wrap my head around it either, fellow posters, take into consideration indigenous people from areas so remote, they rarely see outsiders. What do they eat? What nature has provided them; plants, animals AND insects! They don’t have advertising telling them to eat what’s at the local markets or fast food joints. To them it’s normal, not barbaric or cruel. Most even do it respectively and express gratitude for the sacrifice.
I learned something new today… Cricket flour!
Yuck. No thanks.
I don’t think there words to express how horrified I am by what I’ve just read here, but I’ll try.
Enslaving cows, chickens, pigs and other species, maiming and torturing them and killing them for our own convenience was not enough, so now we have to eat poor crickets too?!!
There is protein in chickpeas. There is protein in quinoa. There is protein in a million other things. There’s absolutely no need on God’s Green Earth to kill and grind crickets and devour them. That’s not healthy. That’s sick, obnoxious and horrible and it should be a crime. Can’t you people leave any creature alone, do you have to stuff your faces with everything unfortunate enough to happen to cross your way?
Dear Katie, I followed your blog because, although I’m well aware that you don’t share my views on how people should eat, you had some really god parenting articles and cleaning your home naturally tips. I get it that you feel eating meat is a big part of your health and although I very strongly disagree, I respect your right to your opinion. But I don’t understand how you can endorse a horrible product like this. It’s not a product, it’s a crime against nature and against humanity and it should be outlawed.
I don’t think I can be a part of a community that supports that kind of senseless and needless cruelty.
There is no direct link between consuming meat and torturing and maiming animals. There’s too much of the demagogue in your post. Protein all over the place. What about vitamin B12? And why is eating a cricket so much worse than eating a steak? And why are either of these a crime against Nature? These things happen all the time in Nature. I never thought of lecturing to robins before. They eat crickets by the cartload.
And, finally, nobody’s talking about cruelty. That’s bridging a huge abyss in the reasoning of the question with no foundation whatsoever.
Local chairwoman for the IARoC (International Association for the Rights of Chickpeas)
“Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” Genesis 9:3 NKJV
Ana, Its not upsetting to you that the grains you rely on in your diet destroy natural forests and meadows that wildlife need to thrive? When farming vegetables the farmers kill mass amounts of insects (worms) and even small rodents, they displace little creatures from their homes when combining or windrowing, Farming practices in general impact animals no matter what you choose to eat. Open your eyes…. What exactly can you eat that does not impart cruelty on some creature? Instead of being judgemental, try understanding…..
I’m sorry, but that’s so disgusting!!? Never!!!
Eating crickets never crossed my mind before, and I’m not sure it’s something I’ll go after, but I’m from a place where we eat snails, so whatever. I remember an English cousin of mine being appalled at our eating shrimp. And even if I didn’t. Snap out of it, folks, and be constructive. People eat all sorts all over the place, nobody has a right to find any foods “disgusting”, especially if apparently abiding by some rather narrow standards. You’re not being forced to eat the things. At least they come from nature and not from a lab.
I’m sorry the fact that I find something gross is offensive to you or not “constructive”. Let’s keep this a positive place where we can all share our feelings/thoughts without attacking each other’s as nonconstructive:) I was simply stating my opinion, not that others can’t have differing ones. And I live in Europe so I’m not a stranger to eating things Americans find strange or gross. 🙂
Hello there! In Mexico they eat them in the state of Oaxaca. They boil them first in a salty water then sun dry them. They are delicious snacks. We keep them in the fridge and my children love them.
Yes, I have eaten deep-fried crickets and chocolate-covered fried crickets….both were delicious. Although, you’d have to eat a tub of them to fill-up on them. Nice snack though.
I am vegetarian and never lacked protein in my diet. So think about other options rather than eating those poor things.
When I lived in Japan, my host dad had pickled crickets (in soy sauce or some mixture with it). I never did try them but I would now!
I’ve had the big green ones from the garden;while I mostly eat raw foods,I preferred them lightly fryed with garlic:tasted much like shrimp!
I also tried those big white larvae (from beetles) from under wood bark,and these tasted like concentated broth!
I still eat mostly vegetables,though…
Hi. It caught my eye that you mention sourcing crickets that are fed a gluten free diet, if applicable, I tend to think that you think the same in regards to other meats… There are multiple food intolerances in our family, and I have pondered this topic several times. I eventually resort to not thinking too much about it because it starts to drive me crazy that I haven’t found an reasonable answer, aside from personally raising each and every animal that we eat (and I’m not exactly convinced that that is “reasonable” either, especially considering what gluten, dairy, soy free, etc. animal feed would cost, let alone the rest of the planning/labor that would go into it). Is all the meat your family consumes sourced from animals raised on a grain free diet? And if so, where do you buy from?
Thanks for reading.
Katie - Wellness Mama
I try to buy locally whenever possible (especially if I know the farmer and what he feeds his animals), but I also order online from Butcher Box, US Wellness Meats, and Tropical Traditions.
My 20 year old daughter has celiacs AND the very rare Bechets disease. It has never ever ever mattered what we feed our animals in regard to how she reacts. She has severe severe issues that are triggered from any exposure to gluten. Never in her life has she reacted with dermatitis herpetaformis, or any other horrible symptoms of exposure that torment her life, from eating animals fed wheat. I mean, I feel folks that it’s clean and what not, and I choose it when I can just because of nutrient density and the fact that it’s the obvious best choice for the ANIMAL, but to say it’s imperative for celiacs or the likes is a stretch at best. I’m willing to see references to peer reviewed studies that back this idea up.
I believe with most meats, it would not be an issue, because you are eating just the muscle. However, with cricket flour, the entire cricket is dried and ground, including its stomach and any contents. So, if the cricket eats grains, this could indeed affect someone with celiac disease.