The Cricket Diet

Published: November 14, 2020

by the Minimal Waste Lifestyle Blog team, Science & Policy Exchange

*We would like to mention that eating crickets is not recommended if you have a shellfish allergy.*

Some of you might remember visiting the grocery store earlier this year only to find long lines and empty shelves. In fact, for many of you, grocery stores are still looking a tad on the empty side. In March 2020, when the alarm over COVID-19 reached its first high, I (Irene) began to worry about whether I would be able to get enough protein in my diet. This is because I try to follow a mostly vegan diet, for environmental reasons, and I could already see my main protein sources were getting harder to find. So I tried something new: crickets!

Well, I had eaten crickets in energy bars in the past, so it wasn’t that new. I had heard about some of the great health benefits of eating crickets. Chock-full of protein (with all the essential amino acids!), vitamin B12 (which is near-impossible to get enough of, especially if you cut out meat from your diet), healthy fats, and fibre — there really seems to be no downside. Crickets are less resource-intensive than beef, and a little goes a long way nutrient-wise. Not to mention I found a cricket farm that isn’t too far from Montreal, so the carbon footprint of shipping would be quite small! So, I stocked up on a big bag of organic, flavourless crickets and a few small pouches of flavoured crickets (chili lime, barbecue, honey mustard), and decided to have a taste test with some of my girls at SPE!

My personal favorites were the chili-lime and the original flavourless crickets! The hot chili-lime crickets had a pretty good kick to it and tasted the most like their potato chip-equivalent. The original flavourless crickets tasted very neutral, slightly nutty, and I imagine they would be a great salad-topper or even just something nice to munch on during a movie (goodbye popcorn). The other two flavours, barbecue, and honey mustard, were also good, but did not resemble their potato-chip equivalents as much as the chilli lime flavour, and had a bit of a bitter aftertaste. All in all, I’m glad I purchased these, and I can’t wait to implement them as another protein source in my diet! Heck, maybe I’ll even convince my friends and family — I’ve already converted Maïa and Jess!

-Irene

When Irene suggested we eat crickets, I was a bit hesitant — I grew up on a Mediterranean diet and I hadn’t eaten bugs before! The taste-test went so much better than I expected. My favorites were the organic/ flavorless crickets (yes, I have a favourite now). I got really hooked on the crunchiness. As soon as I got home, I started looking into how cricket farms are set and read more about the sustainability of a cricket diet. Crickets are 65% protein by weight! Incorporating insect protein in our diets (if not included already) helps save water, energy, and other resources. I think this could be the next big thing for sustainable diets if we can break the stigma around it.

– Jessica

One nuance I would like to bring up is that eating bugs is not new. Coming from a mostly Western diet background, this cricket taste-test was a first for me, but I would like to acknowledge that it’s not new to the world. First impressions of people from my entourage to eating bugs is pretty much ‘That’s disgusting’ or ’Why would you do that to yourself?’. I am glad I did this taste-test, and I actually liked the taste of the flavourless crickets. I’m now interested in learning to cook with them! Check out this video about entomophagy and sustainability!

-Maïa

One of the blog team members couldn’t attend the taste-test, but we were glad to get his input:

I’ve never eaten bugs before, but I’d definitely be open to trying them — especially the flavoured ones. Also, I think we really have to contemplate why people find the idea of eating crickets disgusting or revolting. Why do we have such a visceral feeling against it? Do we need more awareness and information about how they are harvested and grown? Maybe crickets need better PR? With the right approach and marketing, I hope crickets become an alternative for certain snacks, proteins, flours, and more!

– Zissis

All in all, crickets seem to be an interesting addition to a diet. Let us know if you decide to try some out!