Cricket farmer hopes business will start hopping
Published Monday, February 22, 2016 6:03PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 23, 2016 12:46PM EST
Do you want to eat healthier, including high-quality protein, vitamins, fibre and omega 3’s?
Do you want to help save the planet from global warming and destructive farming practises?
Do you want to eat crickets?
An Ottawa man is hoping you’ll say yes, yes and, remarkably, yes.
Andrew Afelskie is starting up Ottawa’s very first organic cricket farm. In fact, it’s just the second edible cricket farm in all of Canada.
Right now his “farm” is essentially the size of a garden shed. When he’s done, it will expand to an entire single room in a south end industrial building.
One room where he hopes to produce millions of crickets year-round.
When it comes to raising a herd of crickets, you don’t need much more than some heat, humidity, and a bunch of plastic bins filled with egg cartons they can hide in.
“To raise the same amount of protein we need a fraction of the feed, a fraction of the water and, amazingly, a fraction of the space,” says Afelskie, founder of GrowHop Cricket Farm and Foodlab.
Crickets, as it happens, are a veritable superfood. They are 70% pure protein, including a complete range of amino acids. They are high in vitamins and minerals, and a natural source of fibre and omega-3. If they’re given the proper feed, they’re even gluten-free.
But is that enough to get consumers past the “ick” factor of eating bugs?
Maybe not. That’s why GrowHop plans to focus on making cricket flour. It’s a high-protein powder that can be added to shakes, smoothies, regular flour, and a host of other foods.
“You really wouldn’t know that the insect was there if I didn’t tell you,” says Laura Shine, Manager and Chef of GrowHop’s food lab. “They’re very adaptable and they can be added to almost any kind of recipe.”
The idea is already attracting interest. Liz Mok runs Moo Shu Ice Cream, a gourmet ice cream business that specializes in exotic flavours. She’s interested in the cricket flour not just for the “wow” factor, but also because quality ice cream, she says, is a delicate balance of sugar, fat and protein. “So having crickets to boost the body of the ice cream is just a really good match for us.”
Andrew Afelskie is still breeding his first batch of crickets, but says the numbers will grow exponentially. In order to take GrowHop to the next level he is embarking on an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Who knows, you could be helping a business that looks like it just might have legs!
In fact, in a few years it could really be hopping!
OK, I’ll stop chirping now.