How Are Insects Prepared For Human Grade High Consumption ?
Eating insect protein is safe, with two exceptions. If you are allergic to seafood or nuts, you may have sensitivities to insects as well. The reason for the seafood connection is chitin, the protective substance that is found on the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans (e.g., lobsters, shrimp, crabs).
The practice of farming crickets for human consumption is still in its infancy in the U.S., so we are constantly looking to create a better edible organic insect. Like with most livestock, there are a number of variables—temperature, humidity, feed, water sources, housing—that are constantly adjusted to create a bigger, tastier, and more nutritious product. As many as 1,7000 species are safe to eat, they're also nutritiously more beneficial than much of the food we normally consume. Compared to beef, a six-ounce serving of crickets has 60 percent less saturated fat and twice as much vitamin B-12 than the same amount of ground beef.
Besides being a good source of lean protein, bugs are genetically distant enough from us that transferable diseases such as mad cow or feral pig disease won't ever be a concern. There's a reason why, for 80 percent of the world’s nations, insects are actually an essential part of people's diets.
Our insects are organically prepared by either dehydration or freeze-drying. We work together with multiple organic insect farms as well who follow strict guidelines in humane insect farming.
• Dehydrated/roasted insects contain between 5-10% water and shrivel in size as their moisture content is removed through a continuous flow of hot air during a period of eight hours plus.
• Freeze-Dried insects contain around 2% water and retain their original color, form, size, taste and texture. Moisture content is removed through the use of cold temperatures and since the food remains frozen during the process, the food’s cell structures do not change. It’s often noted that unseasoned freeze-dried insects taste far superior to unseasoned dehydrated/roasted insects. Freeze-dried insects also rehydrate quicker than dehydrated/roasted ones.
Our organic farms and others we work closely with are some of the largest in the industry. On average our farms consist of over 12,000-square feet, with multiple rooms and state of the art facilities ensuring our insects are happy and healthy. Each room houses different insect species to ensure the cleanest breeding and culturing of the insect. Unlike grazing mammals, they don’t need large horizontal areas to live in, and they can be stacked in a vertical environment for maximum efficiency of limited space. Many insects certainly do adapt well to farm-like environments. Numerous species can be raised in high densities, especially compared to mammals, so you can get a much higher nutritional output per unit area used to raise them.
Raising human grade insects is relatively a low maintenance process. For example, Ideal conditions for raising crickets, are between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius and 40 to 70 percent humidity. As cold-blooded invertebrates, insects generally don't expend energy to keep warm and thus require less natural resources to thrive. For instance, they use their exoskeletons to seal in and preserve water when it's hot rather than sweating the way mammals do. The United Nations, points out that insects, such as crickets, require six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep and two times less than pigs to reap the same amount of protein. On the whole, they're much easier to raise.
When it comes time for breeding, all the cricket rearers ( farmers ) have to do is place some soil into the boxes for the insects. Once the eggs are produced, the farmers take them out of the soil for incubation, each female lays between 100 and 200 eggs. Unlike bees or ants, crickets don’t have a larval stage, instead hatching fully formed from eggs after about a week and growing straight to adulthood.
Harvesting the crickets and other insects is also relatively the same process. Deep freeze is the most humane for the insects, as they slowly fall asleep until the pass away. A majority of Insects get their heat from outside their bodies and have very little ability to regulate their temperature internally. When crickets get too cold, they go into a torpor state—their biological response—and essentially go to sleep until they die. Eventually, the bugs freeze solid and can be grinded down to a fine grain or flour like consistency.
We do not mix or cross contaminate our insects. After each insects lifecycle, we empty the room and scrub everything down before bringing in a new hatchery. This is done in part to keep out spiders and to ensure the cleanest facilities.