Cricket Flour Is the Future of Food, But Would You Eat It?

Cricket cookie
A chocolate chip cookie made with cricket flour. Mary Smyth/Getty Images

The latest wonder food to earn major buzz in the wellness world: cricket flour, a protein-packed powder made from roasted, milled crickets. Touted as a nutritional powerhouse, cricket flour is also hailed as a sustainable food source for the future.

While it’s far from common in the West, the human consumption of insects (also known as “entomophagy”) isn’t so unusual in other parts of the planet. In fact, about two billion people across the globe currently include insects in their diet, according to the United Nations. A longtime dietary component for people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, insects make for a rich source of fat and minerals (in addition to protein).

Over the past few years, several U.S.-based companies have developed their own cricket flours. A number of these companies also offer food products featuring cricket flour as a key ingredient, such as cookies and protein bars. Many commercially available cricket flours also contain ingredients like barley flour and cassava flour.

Even though cricket flour is often used in baked goods, its name is essentially a misnomer. With its high protein content, cricket flour is more similar to the protein powder that many people add to smoothies and shakes. To that end, it’s frequently used to boost the protein content of egg dishes, oatmeal, veggie burgers, and other foods.

In addition, use of cricket flour is aligned with some recent dietary trends. For instance, it’s typically gluten-free, and also adheres to the principles of the Paleo diet.

The Nutritional Benefits of Cricket Flour

In one leading brand, a 1/4 cup serving of cricket flour provides 7 grams of protein. By contrast, the same serving of regular flour contains only 3 grams of protein.

Sometimes referred to as “the building block of life,” protein plays a central role in the production of new cells. Along with enabling your body to carry out all its vital functions, protein is also crucial for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

Not only marketed as top source of protein, cricket flour is also said to deliver a host of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B12 and B2, calcium, iron, and potassium.

To boost the nutritional content of cricket-flour products, some farms enrich their cricket feed with ingredients like flaxseed (a food high in omega-3 fatty acids).

Cricket Flour & Sustainability

In 2013, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations released a report highlighting the potential value of insect farming in meeting the food demands of our ever-growing population. With the global population expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, the report (titled Edible Insects: Future Prospect for Food and Feed Security) suggests that entomophagy could also help reduce food production’s strain on precious environmental resources such as water.

What’s more, increased use of foods such as cricket flour may help fight climate change. When compared to livestock production, for example, cricket farming appears to result in significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

What Does Cricket Flour Taste Like?

Cricket flour is generally described as bearing an earthy, slightly nutty taste. Those who have used cricket flour in baked goods report that the resulting food items may be denser or grainier in texture (compared to baked goods made with conventional flour).

Tips on Using Cricket Flour

Here are several tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking of introducing cricket flour into your diet:

  • When preparing baked goods with cricket flour, you may need to modify the ingredient measurements in order to achieve the desired flavor and texture. In most cases, information on the product’s packaging can guide you in making such modifications.
  • As with any dietary adjustment, it’s smart to start out with small changes. Try adding a teaspoon of the flour to your daily food intake, and carefully monitoring how your body responds.
  • Just like shrimp, crabs, and lobsters, crickets are classified as crustaceans. Therefore, cricket flour may trigger allergic reactions in people with a crustacean shellfish allergy. If you experience symptoms such as stomach cramps, indigestion, or tightness in your throat, discontinue use of cricket flour immediately.
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