There are grasshoppers everywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. You see them during the day as they jump away from as you go about your business. And you hear them at night as they sing you to sleep. They thrive in the open plains and short grass.
How can we capitalize on the fact that grasshoppers love it here?
The consensus is that harvesting insects from the wild is risky because we don’t know where they have been (As in the neighbor’s yard where they just sprayed fertilizer and pesticides). What if I go out into a state park and catch some tasty treats there? What if we farm grasshoppers in the ‘middle of nowhere’ Texas?
- Buy, rent or borrow a large plot of prairie land away from other cultivated land.
- Select a grasshopper species that is already successful in that area. Differential Grasshopper?
- Foster shrubs and grasses that accommodate that species of grasshopper. Mow the perimeter to prevent inward or outward migration.
- Add the grasshopper to the field. You probably need to farm eggs/nymphs in a controlled setting like they do for crickets. I understand this can be difficult but it may be easier if the grasshoppers only live part of their life cycle in a man-made environment.
- Sit back and relax as the grasshoppers mature.
- Harvest by attaching nets to traditional farming tractors and sweep the plot in an inward spiral. They do this by hand in Asia.
- Freeze for storage.
Just go to a middle of nowhere field and harvest. Depending on the time of year there may be plenty to catch. Then send a sample out to a lab for analytical testing including heavy metals, pathogens and pesticide residue. The contamination issue is solved assuming the results come back negative for any bad stuff. Make huge profits with little work by selling the catch to restaurants or processors.
Plan C and more: This Mother Earth News article has great insight on grasshopper harvesting.
- Farm insects in their natural habitat and climate.
- Instead of controlling the entire farming operation, let grasshoppers be grasshoppers and ensure safety and wholesomeness of the product with post-harvest testing. Companies such as Certified Laboratories specialized in doing such safety analyses.
- What insect thrive in your area?
Great ideas! What do you think about the “urban farming” opportunity/challenges? Could insect husbandry be one way to reclaim abandoned warehouse/factory spaces? I think this is the approach that Big Cricket Farms is undertaking in Youngstown, but I’m curious what you think about the large scale possibilities here of turning industrial sites into food-producing sites. Is it harder to set up shop in a warehouse space than an open prairie?
Thanks for the comment!
Urban Farming is great. Urban farming should work well on a city/regional level. One issues with cricket farming in general is that it is labor intensive. Large scale farming with machine automated processes is one of the next steps for the entomophagy industry. Dollar for dollar crickets are more expensive than other animal protein but automated processes and larger volumes will help lower prices. Significant capital is needed to really scale up cricket production. Warehouse farming works well for domestic crickets but does not work well for a lot of other edible insects. Cricket and meal worm farms are well established but they generally do not sell for human consumption and the scale is small compared to modern food production. Open prairie farming might be a workable alternative for grasshoppers. I understand they do not fair well using the cricket model.
Awesome response. I think the sustainability angle of insect husbandry is going to be a big deal, especially as a possible solution for urban blight. Imagine all that abandoned industrial space in Detroit rehabed for food production. Or am I delusional?
No need to answer that, but…
do you think that investment in scaling up cricket production would come from investments in an industry geared toward human consumption? Seems like that sort of capital would first go to operations geared toward producing insects for feed, either for aquaculture or for some other more traditional animal husbandry. Once the operation gets built up for producing bugs largescale for traditional livestock, it could then be transitioned over for human consumption. But is there that much of a difference producing bugs for feed vs for food? Or would that be solely dictated by regulations that are still forthcoming?
Both food and feed are going to be important. I envision that insect producers will have both a food division and a feed division. The regulations are different and the quality standards for food are going to be higher. As their are no regulations directly addressing insect, the approach is to follow the same regulations for farming and then food or feed processing. The process will probably be pretty similar but how its marketed and sold will be different. Aquaculture is a great opportunity for insects as feed.