It seems every few years a new superfood or health trend is introduced into a market to be touted as “The best thing for you,” or “The product that will make you younger,” or my personal favorite “The miracle anti-oxidant, that will also make you a better driver!”
Let’s be real.
While many new “superfoods” or health food products actually do have great benefits for your health, there is not a single cure-all food that will keep you in tiptop shape. (No, Soylent is not the answer!) As nutritional science keeps evolving, it is becoming clearer that the human body needs a mixture of different types of healthy foods to keep you at the top of your game mentally and physically. However, in our species’ ever evolving quest for immediacy and functionality, there are a few foods that offer orders of magnitude more nutrition than others. One of those foods is Cricket Powder, sometimes referred to as Cricket Flour.
Cricket Flour is not new to this world by any means, but is a relatively new food source for Western cultures. Having spent the entire second year of business school studying the possibilities and value propositions of cricket flour, I can tell you this, it isn’t a matter of “if” cricket flour will permeate Western diets, it is simply a matter of “when.”
Here are 5 reasons you should be eating Cricket Flour:
1. Protein – Crickets are gram-for-gram one of the most efficient protein creators on the planet. By dry weight, a single cricket ranges between 65% – 70% pure protein. In contrast, beef is between 17% – 40% protein, with the rest being primarily fat content. But what about the quality of the protein you ask? Interestingly enough, cricket protein is a form of animal protein, which means it registers as a “complete” source of protein. What this means is that it contains all the essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) that the human body needs for muscle development. Simply put, for high quality protein, crickets surprisingly might be the Lightweight Champion!
2. Vitamins & Minerals – Cricket flour is packed with vitamins and minerals. Once again, on a gram-for-gram basis cricket powder can outcompete some of our healthiest food options.
-Iron, an essential mineral that helps carry oxygen through our body in the form of hemoglobin. Did you know that our body absorbs iron from animal products better than iron from plant products? More importantly though, cricket flour in comparison is loaded with iron. It contains 5.9mg per 100 grams, which is almost TWICE more than the amount you get from spinach, 3.5mg per 100 grams.
-Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps nerve and blood cells stay healthy while creating the most important element of our body, our DNA. B12 has been gaining widespread popularity, and is found in many of the products that claim to increase energy. Turns out, Cricket Flour is packed with B12. It actually contains 10x the amount of B12 as one of the most popular food sources for that vitamin, salmon. Cricket flour has 24mcg per 100 grams while salmon only has 2.8mcg per 100 grams. Crazy right!
3. Taste – Most people are really surprised the first time they try cricket flour. Mainly it is because their perceptions of what crickets should taste like is actually far from the reality. Cricket flour has a very mild taste; many have described it as slightly nutty. Michelin star chef’s have started to use it because it has such a neutral taste that it is able to enhance the flavor profile while increasing the nutritional benefits.
4. Applications – How many ways do you use your whey protein powder? From our market research, most consumers simply mix it with water or milk. How about your soy protein powder? Because of the naturally bitter taste of these products they tend to be highly flavored with additives to make them appeal to the average consumers palate. Not cricket flour. Cricket flour, due to its neutral flavor, is actually meant to be put into lots of different recipes. Mix it with baking flour and you can increase the protein in your bread or baked goods. Mix it in your salad dressing to boost nutrition. Mix it in your breakfast shakes and smoothies for extra energy. The list could go on and on, the point it is unlike whey and soy powders, cricket flour has almost unlimited applications.
5. Sustainability – Due to current livestock farming practices a large amount of our greenhouse gas emissions (ammonia & methane) is in large part due to the livestock industry. Moreover, as California suffers from severe water shortage it has the 4th largest cattle inventory by volume. Do you know how much water is consumed to get a pound of dry protein from a cow? Between 1700 and 2500 gallons! Do you know how much water it takes to get a pound of protein from crickets? 1 gallon?
There are projected to be 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, 3 billion more than what we have now. Two of the world’s most precious resources, fresh water and land, are finite and dwindling. They are hard to recapture once we use exhaust them. Do we really want to use it on protein sources when we don’t have too? Crickets take 1/10 the water and 1/6 the feed to get the same amount of quality protein as you would from cattle. I’m not saying give up steak, all I am suggesting is augment your diet with a more sustainable source of protein.
There are many different options for incorporating cricket flour into your diet. Below are some of the great industry leading companies and what they offer: