Cricket Protein – The growing demand for protein sources over the last decades has put enormous pressure on the livestock sector, whose carbon footprint is increasing. Therefore, raising livestock has had a growing impact on climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and water resources. Besides the environmental impacts of this activity, there is a growing repudiation of modern practices in animal raising and slaughter. All this has led many consumers to opt for vegetable-based diets.
However, there’s an alternative solution, namely the use of insects for human consumption. Though this has been a common practice in some parts of the world for many years, in Portugal only now was it approved by the General Directorate for Food and Veterinary Affairs (DGAV).
Insects are a lot more resource-effective than any other animal-based protein. In the specific case of crickets, to produce a unit of protein, one needs only 8.33% of the feed, 0.05% of the water and 6.67% of the land necessary to produce an equivalent unit of beef protein. The production of cricket protein also emits only 1.00% of greenhouses gases, compared to its beef counterpart.
To better illustrate the numbers above, we can consider the following examples:
- To produce a 200g gram steak, the amount of water needed is equal to a 10-hour shower, whereas for the same amount of cricket protein, we need only the equivalent of an 18-second shower;
- To deliver one kg of beef to consumers, enough carbon dioxide was produced for a 250km trip, whereas 1 kg of cricket flour would only produce enough carbon dioxide for a 2.5km trip.
Additionally, cricket flour has many health benefits:
- 70% of cricket flour is protein, equal to that of a steak;
- 20% of healthy fats, with equal or higher levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 if compared to salmon;
- 5 chitin fibres, to improve intestinal health and reduce inflammation;
- High bioavailability of micronutrients like iron, calcium, zink, vitamin B12 and others;
- No antibiotics and no risk of bacterial infection, unlike beef.
Today, there are a growing number of companies providing cricket flour in the market. The flour is being presented to the market in various forms, from energy bars, snacks and crackers to pasta, as well as a topping for smoothies and shakes. Cricket flour is making an impact in the market, and it is here to stay, as consumers will increasingly be convinced, not only by the environmental and health benefits, but also by the taste experience!