Sustainable Protein from Insects: Trending New Industry – Get The Facts:
by Dr. Aaron T. Dossey
With historic levels of biodiversity loss and an ever-increasing human population, it is even more important to reduce human consumption from the earth and its ecosphere. Current sources of protein are unsustainable. Already 70% of agricultural land, 30% of the land on earth, is used for livestock. Diversification of our food supply is critical for food security.
This article will highlight the latest in cutting edge research and the state of this new industry: developing insects as sustainable food ingredients and a class/suite of new commodities for the food and other industries (i.e. protein isolates and extracts, whole insect-based ingredients such as cricket powder, oil, fiber, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and bioactives etc.). It will also cover All Things Bugs LLC‘s cutting edge research and technology in insect farming, genetics, genomics, processing, and product development. It will also introduce our company’s cornerstone product Griopro® brand Cricket Powder and why ours is the highest quality insect-based ingredient on the market anywhere in the world. (Come see us at IFT June 4-5 2019!)
This new industry will inspire an interest in insects as useful creatures for bioproduction rather than pests to be exterminated. You can learn more in our latest Book: “Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients” as well as articles you can find by clicking here. The book is excellent for aspiring food or agriculture entrepreneurs, students as a gift, Entomologists and as a reference textbook courses on Sustainability, Entomology, Food Science and Agricultural Sciences. It is the first and only textbook for this emerging industry and field of science!
Why Insect Protein? : The good news is farm-raised insects, such as crickets, mealworms and others, hold promise as a sustainable, yet a nearly entirely unexplored solution. They utilize less energy, feed, land, and water than other livestock and contribute less to climate change and pollution. They are gaining momentum as a food ingredient. Since about 2011, over 50 companies in North America, 80 in Europe, offer food products with insects as a key ingredient. Insects are TRULY the protein crop of the future!
Powder, not “Flour”: Terminology is important. Unfortunately, in new industries, things move very quickly and experts are not often consulted, so things like terminology accuracy fall through the cracks. “Flour” is inaccurate and confusing a lot of consumers – thinking they can use it the same as how wheat flour is used. Whereas “flours” are from plants (primarily plant seeds such as grains, nuts, and other seeds) and mostly starch, insect powder is 60-70% protein, with the rest being oil and a little fiber, and animal based. Thus, insect-based ingredients do not function anywhere near like true flour do. Thus the proper term for dry fine insect-based ingredients would be a powder (e.g.: Cricket Powder, whey powder, milk powder, powdered egg, etc.). In some cases, the term “meal” (such as “insect meal”) would also be acceptable for courser products made from roasted insects (like corn meal, fish meal, meat meal, etc.). Learn more about the importance of terminology in this new industry, and more about the functionality and processing of insect-based food ingredients in THIS ARTICLE. (Modern Insect-Based Food Industry: Current Status, Insect Processing Technology, and Recommendations Moving Forward)
New Book: Interested in learning more about this exciting new transformative industry and field of science? We thought you were. That’s why we’ve published the first and only reference textbook: Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients. We have known from the beginning that insect-based food and farming open up a HUGE new opportunity which could benefit many other industries. We also understand that it’s a lot to “digest” (pardon the pun) in just a short article like this one. We did not want to have to depend on the media alone to provide the CORRECT information about this emerging industry. So, we published Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients in order to try to help this new field and industry get off to a good start with quality, expertly written information. The book covers everything you need to know to get a solid introduction to the field including: the history and cultural use of insects as food, a comprehensive list of insect species eaten worldwide, a chapter on nutrient content of insects, a summary of the industry and it’s growth as it has gotten started over just the past few years, a chapter on insect mass rearing and farming methods, a chapter on regulatory and food safety considerations for the insect-based food industry and a chapter discussing current knowledge on insects as food allergens.
Check it out for yourself!
Benefits of Cricket Powder: As we described above, insects are a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly source of protein than other animal sources. Like animals, they provide high quality and COMPLETE protein which has good nutritional value, a good amino acid profile and excellent digestibility. Insect based ingredients work well in many different kinds of food products so they can be very easily incorporated into one’s diet. Insects are also rich in other nutrients such as B vitamins and calcium. Recent research has also shown crickets and mealworms to be an excellent source of highly bioavailable iron. Even more recently, researchers have shown that cricket powder is a potentially excellent source of fiber, creating healthy digestion and good gut microflora!
GrioPro® cricket powder vs others: Our cricket powder is the highest quality insect-based ingredient on the market worldwide. Our innovations have developed a clean patent-pending process for gently grinding and drying farm raised crickets into a super fine, light-colored powder. It has the most neutral aroma and flavor of any insect powder out there and blends best with other ingredients to make numerous food and beverage products, such as pasta, baked goods, shakes, smoothies, meat extenders, puffed extruded snacks, bars, cereals, tortillas, and many others.
Griopro® does not impart any grittiness to the product and can be incorporated at higher levels than other insect powders without affecting flavor, texture, aroma or overall product quality and functionality. Our process microencapsulates the fats, oils and other nutrients into tiny protein particles which are homogeneous in their makeup and consistency. We use much less heat to dry our insects than other brands, allowing Griopro® to maintain a very long shelf-life. Further, Griopro® maintains its neutral aroma, color and flavor throughout the life of the product. Cricket powder works very well in most products at a 10-20% incorporation level. Using insect-based ingredients provides food manufacturers with an opportunity to incorporate higher levels of animal protein into many products in a much more sustainable way.
Uses of Cricket Powder (and RECIPES):
In our product development work including research and development of both food ingredients and food products, we have found that insect powders, such as cricket powder and mealworm powder, perform very well in many food products. We have evaluated incorporating cricket and mealworm powders into products such as puffed extruded snacks, cereals, pasta, tortillas, bars, shakes, smoothies, cookies, high protein crisps and even insect-based meats such as sausages and taco meat (some recipes here).
INNOVATIONS by All Things Bugs LLC: All Things Bugs LLC is one of the top, if not THE top, innovators in the insect industry. Having just a small grant from the Gates Foundation and $5,000 of Dr. Aaron T. Dossey’s own money, the company started with humble beginnings. Since our start, we have come a long way! We have obtained over $4.1 million in funding from the USDA and DARPA (SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants) as well as other agencies. Our company has developed patent-pending processing technology for producing the world’s highest quality insect-based food ingredients. We’ve invented cutting edge equipment and infrastructure for mechanizing and automating all stages of insect farming from egg through harvest, including an innovative and highly efficient insect harvester/flash freezer unit ready for market.
All Things Bugs LLC even has an eye on the more distant future of this rapidly growing industry. We have begun utilizing cutting edge genetic engineering technologies (such as CRISPR/Cas9) to develop crickets and mealworms which are MORE nutritious and robust as a crop. Some of our early innovations are focused on producing crickets and mealworms which are higher in Vitamin A and have higher quality protein comparable with egg and dairy proteins. We are also developing crickets which are more resistant to cricket-specific pathogens, increasing yields at farms. In the future, we see insects as an excellent potential tool for bioproduction of MANY valuable products besides food. We plan to engineer farm-raised insects to produce important and valuable substances such as vaccines, pharmaceuticals, color pigments, antibodies, and other such bioproducts.
The possibilities for insects, and for All Things Bugs LLC, seem endless!