Selling crickets by number and age is fine if you are going to feed them to your pets. But it is not the information we (people who practice entomophagy) want. We want to the total weight of the crickets we are going to buy. This is how food is typically sold. The package of walnuts in my kitchen say “Net Wt 12 oz (341 g)”. This practice should be adopted when selling edible insect for human consumption.
Another consideration is the general size of the crickets. I recommend getting away from the “weeks old” categorization. Describing a chicken by its age at harvest is kind of weird. I think there are better descriptions we can use. The shrimp industry uses a number per pound system. “21/25” means that there are 21 to 25 shrimp per pound. The insect industry could adopt a similar system. For example a package of crickets might read:
Net Wt 12 oz (341 g)
Size: 200-250 crickets/lb
Shrimpers also use categories like jumbo, medium and tiny but these adjectives are somewhat open to interpretation and aren’t recommended.
Many insects undergo physical changes during their life cycle. For example crickets grow wings at about 4 weeks old. Categorizing based on a well-defined attribute could work. A producer could sell 2 varieties… “Adult Crickets” and “Wingless Crickets”.
I have looked into buying canned insects for using in recipes. Cricket salad on toasted bread anyone? But I could not find any canned insects. Thailand Unique has canned insects and there is the Can–O line of products from Zoo Med’s (pet food supplier). These are just dried insects put into cans! Compare dehydrated chicken that you would find in Ramen noodle cups to canned chicken. The quality is much better in a canned product.
Insects will spoil in ambient condition without processing. Dehydration is a great option for food preservation. I think that canning is even better. Canned insects will have a long shelf life, are safe, have high nutritional quality and are easy to use. I would love to have a few cans of meal worms or crickets in my fallout shelter (if I had one).
The process would be similar to canning chicken or other meat. I recommend blanching first then putting insect into jars and topping it off with seasoned water. Process the jars for 90 minutes at 15 PSI.
While we are on the topic of food preservation, freezing is also a great way to store insects. The best analogy for freezing insects is freezing shrimp. Cook them first or not. Just pop them out of your freezer when you are ready to cook them.
The practice of eating insects as food is know as entomaphagy (insect + to eat). 2 Billion people around the world regularly consume insects as part of their diets. There are two key benifits to consuming bugs. Insects are an excellent source of nutrition. Farm raised insects are environmentally friendly compared to traditional livestock.
Common insects as food are meal worms and crickets. There are hundreds of insects around the world but these are somewhat familiar and can be raised in the USA.
Most North Americans do not eat insects. Lets explore why and find out what we can do to incorporate insects into America’s diet.