What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘insect farming?’ If you are anything like me and you’ve spent any amount of time wandering around in the middle of a cornfield or apple orchard, you know you are going to encounter a number of flying, stinging and creeping things.
As it turns out, many of those very insects are edible and provide a solid source of protein. This is where insect farming comes into the picture. You can actually ‘grow’ your own insects at home for a fraction of the cost it takes to raise cattle, pork or poultry. The amazing part is that in addition to being affordable, the protein found in these creepy crawly critters is as high – and sometimes higher – than that of conventional sources.
How To Farm Crickets and Mealworms
The top choices of insects to farm at home are crickets and mealworms. For both you will need to create the right environment for breeding and incubating but once you get the hang of it, you will find it easy. In fact, after you get the timelines between breeding and hatching down, you will be able to have a consistent supply of insects.
Bin There, Done That!
The ‘mini environments’ you will be creating for your crickets or mealworms in insect farming will be in the form of large plastic bins with either mesh lids or lids with holes in them. This allows for ventilation and keeps your insects breathing. For crickets you will need to supply a flat pan filled with topsoil that you have to keep moist. The mealworms will need a grain mixture covering the bottom of one bin.
Female crickets will lay their eggs in the topsoil and female mealworms will lay theirs in the grain mixture. Collect the eggs and incubate in separate bins from where the adults are. Once they hatch, you should provide a high protein diet to help them grow and soon they will be breeding. This all happens in a span of a few weeks of insect farming.
Time To Bug the Foodie In You
The goal of insect farming is to produce a steady harvest of tasty adult crickets or mealworms to consume. You read that correctly. You are going to eat them! Remember when I said insects are a cheaper and easier protein to produce? Well, the whole point of raising your own crickets and mealworms is so they can be used in meals as an alternative to beef, poultry or fish.
Here’s where your skills as a foodie come into play. Probably the quickest and less ‘icky’ way to use your insect inventory is to grind them up and mix them with white flour. In order to do that you will need to freeze the crickets or mealworms you plan to use. Freezing them kills them and keeps them fresh. You can’t use dead insects at all, so don’t even consider that.
Once your insects are frozen, rinse and pat dry to clean them before use. Spread out on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven until they are golden brown or crispy crunchy. When your insects get to this point you can sprinkle on some seasoning and munch away on them or grind them with a blender or coffee grinder.
You May Want to Add A Side of Flies
The mixture of ground insects to flour is typically 25/75. You may try higher, if that interests you. The bottom line is that once you blend the insect protein with white flour, the foodie in you can start cooking and baking all kinds of recipes. Seriously. You can now use the blended flour as you would normally use flour creating such wonderful treats as Bug Muffins, Insect Toast, Chirpless Scones or whatever comes to mind.
Regardless of what you create with your high protein cricket or mealworm flour you will know it will be good for you. It also means you are doing something good for your environment as insect farming leaves a much smaller carbon footprint that regular animal farming does. Crickets and mealworms can also be dry roasted, toasted and dehydrated for easy and tasty healthy snacks to take on the go.
If the high cost of meat is getting you down, rest assured that there are other ways to fill your diet and still consume the nutrients and vitamins your require. It comes in the form of insects such as crickets and mealworms. These little critters are perfectly alright to eat and are nutritious. They provide a high concentration of protein at a fraction of the cost of production for cattle, poultry or fish. Insect farming is the new trend in food security and well worth exploring.
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