Cricket Infused Falafel Anyone?
The edible insect business is starting to boom in Australia's health food industry.
At the Naturally Good Health Food Expo in Sydney this month, three different edible insect producers were testing their products and crowds were very interested in their tasting plates.
Ruth Galloway from The Cricket Bakery said the key is removing the 'yuck' factor from eating crickets, mealworms and other small insects -- by turning them into powder.
The Cricket Bakery specialises in protein powder for shakes and smoothies, to pre-made pancake or falafel mixes infused with cricket protein-- the products are taking off.
"People think you have to be eating a whole scorpion, or a huge tarantula," said Sky Blackburn, founder of the Edible Bug Shop, "it's not the case at all," she said.
Blackburn said the Edible Bug Shop farm, which is the largest in the country, is about to expand to produce 10 tonnes of edible crickets for the domestic market each week.
"For the past two or three years people want more sustainable foods, they want more nutrient dense food and edible insects tick all the boxes," Blackburn said.
Sustainability is another key aspect of the industry. A report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) shows that it takes between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of meat requires, but cricket producers are reporting it takes only about one litre, for a kilo of edible crickets.
Healthista Nutritional Director Rick Hay has given it the health tick of approval, with crickets posing a higher source of protein than many traditional meat sources and with fewer impacts on digestive health.
"They're a bio-available source of protein so they're easy on the gut, they're rich in vitamins like B-12, minerals like calcium so they really are an answer to excess meat consumption," Hay said.
And while the squeamishness is still a barrier, it's looking like Australians could soon join the other two-billion people around the world who've lived on a diet with bugs for centuries.