OTTAWA -- Have you ever wondered what a cricket tastes like, or are you looking to have your appetite hopping?  

A Carleton University PhD student is researching edible insects as a source of protein.

While some may find insects a bit squeamish, Matt Muzzatti has a passion for them.

"I really love insects, and studying insects," said Muzzatti.

He says studying insects is like a fascination with sci-fi.

"There’s all sorts of weird and interesting behaviours in insects, it’s just great. I learn something new every day studying insects."

While labs at Carleton were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, he even brought his work home with him.

"I reared a couple hundred crickets in my living room, and I tracked body size and growth," said Muzzatti.

He wants to figure out a cost-effective way to make crickets bigger and filled with more protein, so that there’s more of them to eat.

Yes, eat.  This isn’t a quirky food to try once, though. He says crickets can help feed many.

"They’re extremely healthy, extremely nutritious; and, they take a lot less resources to rear and cultivate compared to conventional forms of protein," said Muzzatti.

Fewer resources like water.   According to Muzzatti, insects “require twelve times less water to rear on a per-gram basis; they require about half as much feed,” when compared to beef.

And that’s something that can help with the growing population of the world.

"The UN estimates that by the year 2050 our world will reach 10 billion people, and we don’t really have a system in place to feed that many people," said Muzzatti.

The crickets can be roasted and eaten whole.

Muzzatti says they can be tossed into a trail mix or added into a pasta sauce, but in order to "get over the ick factor," he says they can be ground up into a powder form.

Where do you buy crickets for consumption?

Entomo Farms is located just outside of Peterborough, ON.   They grow crickets for consumption.

"We produce thousands and thousands of pounds of cricket powder; which is really an ingredient that can be used in a smoothie, it can be baked with, cooked with - we then wholesale that powder all over the world," says Jarrod Goldin, one of the co-founders.

Golden says their farm is the largest in North America growing insects for human food.

"We were North America’s, perhaps the western world’s first insect farm dedicated to raising insects for human consumption."

He says although many in the world eat insects as part of their diet, not much research has been done, "We’re really excited about Matt’s work, because I think it will benefit not just us, but everybody who is involved in our business."

They sell sample packs on their website, if you’re interested in trying crickets as a food.

Wondering what crickets taste like? 

Muzzatti says, "Crickets taste most like a sunflower seed, slightly nutty taste; but, it definitely has its own flavour."