News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Greater Akron Chamber

NOCHE

Don Drumm Studios


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
Owner says crickets are healthy and resource efficient
Story by ANNE GLAUSSER


 
A local farm will be growing raising for human consumption.
Courtesy of Anne Glausser
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
When you are hungry, do you reach for potato chips or peanuts? What about a handful of crickets? One daring entrepreneur in Youngstown is bucking the “yuck” factor and opening the first U.S. farm to grow insects exclusively for human consumption.
LISTEN: GLAUSSER ON CRICKETS

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:38)


An old rundown warehouse in Youngstown is the perfect place, says Kevin Bachhuber, to grow crickets. 

“So these are our babies," he says. "They’re actually hardening up right now.”

Bachhuber is a proud father. He is the owner of Big Cricket Farms which operates out of this warehouse. The crickets live in big black square tents that sit right on the warehouse floor. Inside the tents are bright lights, an interior like tin foil and stacks of Rubbermaid tubs.

Crack a lid on one of those tubs and you will find cricket city.

Tiny eggs could grow into a big business
“There are little cricket high-rises made out of egg carton," Bachhuber says. "If you look here, the little tiny grains of rice things—wow, there’s a lot of them—are the eggs.”

These guys munch on organic chicken feed and will mature rapidly, within two months. While some of these crickets will end up sold whole at local farmers markets, most will be ground up and made into “cricket flour,” a nutrient-dense product that can be used in baked goods. 

Bachhuber says he is in talks with energy bar companies as well as chip and cookie manufacturers who are interested in buying cricket flour in volume. That could be because insects are such a rich source of protein and minerals.

Curried crickets and the Western palate
They are commonly used in zoo and pet food. In other countries, people have been eating bugs for decades.

Here, though, there is the cultural “yuck” factor to contend with.

“If I said the word insect to the average person on the street, immediately they’ll think of a cockroach,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the USDA. “So there is that sort of a creepy-crawly-hairy-cockroachy type of a mental image that’s created, so that’s one thing that you’ve got to overcome,” he says.

And there is good reason to make the critters more approachable to western palates, says Ramaswamy, who cooks up curried crickets for D.C. crowds when he gets the chance. In addition to their high protein content and rapid reproduction rate, “their ecological footprint is pretty significantly lower than other things."

"They use a lot less resources, the amount of energy needed, the amount of water needed, the amount of land needed and things like that,” he says.

Care and feeding
To produce a pound of cricket requires one gallon of water and two pounds of feed, says Bachhuber. The same amount of beef requires anywhere from 400 to 2000 gallons of water and 25 pounds of feed.

“They are marvelously efficient little digesters, and growers,” says Bachhuber.

Growing crickets, or any insect for that matter, is uncharted water for regulatory agencies.

“Insect farms are new,” says Ashley McDonald with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  “They would be new to us.  And we don’t regulate them at this time."

McDonald says they do regulate food processors and so in that sense the operation would be treated like any other food facility when it comes to good practices.

At Big Cricket Farms, Bachhuber takes food safety to the point of self-described paranoia.

“These guys should be clean and safe,"he says "We don’t want to destroy our industry before it starts or anything.”

They welcome inspectors and want their operation to be a model for other start-up insect farms.

The FDA is working on insect-specific regulations, but they are not finished yet.

As for when you can expect to see cricket on the menu or in your protein bar, it might not be that far off. Big Cricket Farms will debut their product this August.

Listener Comments:

Turning your crickets into flour is a great idea, but selling that flour to large food producers so they can turn it into cookies and other treats is less appealing to me. They could adulterate your product by adding questionable ingredients to their product. I would rather see you wholesale to grocery stores, health food stores, fitness centers, etc. You could even sell retail on your own web site. Let the buying public make individual purchases of your frozen, dried, or ground products. Let them devise recipes that could later be posted on your site.
Looking forward to trying your crickets one day! Best of luck!


Posted by: Brian White (Grand Blanc, Mi) on January 14, 2015 1:01AM
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please let me know. Also let the leaders of gluten free carb free eating(dr david perlmutter ect) so they can inform the thousands of people on a low carb gluten free gmo free diet of cricket flour availability.


Aloha Katy

Aloha

Katy


Posted by: katy white (hawaii) on July 19, 2014 8:07AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Stories with Recent Comments

Canton's proposed Timken-McKinley school merger is drawing spirited debate
From a sports opinion Varsity would have a lot more talent to choose from So Im sure varsity sports would improve.Also Timkens name would be much more published...

Canton school board will decide whether to merge high schools
I really hope we can save those jobs, usually we try to cut budgets but the demand is still the same. Then we look bad a year or two after the descion is made. ...

FirstEnergy wants PUCO guarantees on nuclear and coal prices
Would just comment that the plant has admitted the following (as reporting in the Akron Beacon Journal): "The utility has said it may have difficulty keeping t...

Mozzarella's easy when you have a way with curd
Hello, Where can I get such a heater that you have? Does it hold temperature that you set? What brand and model is it? Thank you in advance!! :)

Pluto: A healthy LeBron James is the key for the rocky Cavs
It's time to back our Cleveland professional teams through thick and thin. I've seen management, players and coaches come and go and it hasn't changed a thing. ...

Legal marijuana group offers new details about ballot issue
Americans feel as if they should have the right to decide on their own if and when it is or is not a responsible time to have a drink or smoke a joint. The fac...

The PUCO is assessing what happened in Akron's AT&T outage
not the first time for that steam pipe break... happened in the late 70's when the office was being converted to electronic switch ESS.. was a big mess then but...

The freeze of green-energy standards hurts Ohio wind and solar industries
What do we do at night and when the wind isn't blowing? Where does the power come from to back-up these renewable sources?

Gov. Kasich may still face budget battles with Ohio lawmakers
Governor Kasich continues to disappoint many of us who voted for him when he was elected Governor four years ago. It is way past time for charter schools to b...

FairlawnGig could bring super-fast fiber optic internet to the city
Sign me up! When can we have it. It is not nice to tease us with the possibility and then make us wait. Though I have to add that the speed to China does req...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University