Cricket granola, cricket ice cream, silkworm chips, meal worm burgers these are things that we never thought we would be eating let alone thinking of these things being gourmet and highly sought after items. Humans have been using insects for protein for a very long time. It may have been a matter of survival before but maybe it still is, but as we look for more sustainable sources of protein insects are getting high marks. It turns out farming insects is a lucrative business model as well. For any sized farm this might be a great investment to look into.
But, it's a bug. To that I say...
The chef makes the meal
One person will turn up their nose to what you find to be your favorite meal. The perfectly cooked steak could be deemed by some to be disgusting and so it really depends on who is cooking the meal and who is eating the food. Or possibly it all comes down to marketing.
Grasshoppers, termites, hornets, ants, crickets, weevil grubs, meal worms, all of these are prized in other countries for their taste. Ants are small but powerful and are actually among the highest sources of protein in the world. One type of leaf cutter ant from South America has been described as having a bacon like taste. I think we are only limited by our imaginations in coming up with delicious ways to make insects more palatable and delicious.
We already package up meal worms for our chickens but what about our other omnivorous livestock? Pigs and fish; here is an article from Agweb that talks about innovative farming opportunities.
Still can't get over the fact that it's a bug?
Bugs are nutritious and delicious too.
There is a cookbook, "On Eating Insects" by Josh Evans that describes the taste of Danish forest ants like this, "Like lemon rinds seared on the grill, with a hint of brown sugar." I don't know about you, but to me that sounds delicious and something I'd like to try.
It's estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States that 2 billion people eat bugs. That's not a bad percentage of people to market to. Athletes, health enthusiast and environmentally conscious individuals are always looking for environmentally friendly sources of lean protein, essential amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids. For some people the thing they can't get around is that it's an insect. Maybe they should be marketed more like shrimp, clams, or other crustaceans; the insects under the sea. Just reverse it and call them, the lobsters of the land.
Bottom line; they're profitable
It takes way less to raise these little guys. In north America it's also considered a gourmet item and is imported from other countries that have been perfecting their insect recipes for hundreds of years. In Seattle at Safeco field they serve crunchy Chapulines otherwise known as Grasshoppers.
According to the research firm Global Market Insights, The American market for edible insects exceeded $55 million in 2017 and is projected to increase more than 43 percent by 2024.
Using less and getting more
Insects need 6 times less feed than cattle, 4 times less than sheep, and 2 times less than pigs to produce the same amount of protein. They also need less space and produce less waste. For that reason you can get into this business with very little overhead.
They're not going away. Bugs have been on the plant for 400 million years (way before us), represent 80% of the species on the plant, and out number us, by...a lot. There are 2,100 known types of edible insects, it might be time to look into this as a viable business model for your farm.
Here's one farm that's leading the way into this market but there is plenty of room for others there as well. Any takers?