By Karla Pomeroy

The nutritional benefits of crickets


February 28, 2019

Karla Pomeroy

Chief Washakie FFA member BreAnna Parra (right) entices a WESTI Ag Days participant to sample a chocolate-covered cricket for her agriscience project during WESTI Ag Days Feb. 12, 2019, at the Worland Community Center.

WORLAND - Would you choose 8 ounces of crickets over an 8-ounce beef steak? Probably not and Chief Washakie FFA member and Worland High School student BreAnna Parra and her partner Kolter Wyman realized that when they began their agriscience project. However, they were able to bring awareness to several groups about the nutritional benefits of crickets.

Parra said she and Wyman were struggling selecting an agriscience project for this year's competition in Laramie next month. FFA Advisor Grace Godfrey pitched them the idea about edible crickets and they grabbed onto it.

They ordered 1,200 crickets from the Cowboy Cricket Farm in Montana.

"Our initial idea was to have people try 12 different flavors. However, the chocolate-covered crickets won out and the savory flavored crickets were "tossed." She said the cheese covered, caramel and strawberry were not favorites.

The biggest issue with the non-chocolate-covered variety was they looked too much like crickets for those taste testing at the high school and Chopper Crossfit.

The biggest tasters, however, came during WESTI Ag Days Feb. 12 and 13 in Worland. Parra said she ran out of crickets the first day with only five people telling her no they would not try one. She said the more typical response was people would try a chocolate-covered cricket and want to try another.

"I was not expecting as many people to try it," Parra said.

They also had some of the regular, non-flavored crickets on hand more for show than for sampling but WESTI Ag participants proved adventurous with many asking to try just the regular ones, Parra said.

"We wanted to bring awareness to the nutritional facts of crickets by comparing it to beef. We know replacing beef with crickets is not going to happen, especially here," Parra said.

"Our idea is to appeal to health enthusiasts," she said, noting that crickets are higher in protein, iron density and calcium than beef, as well as lower in calories, for an 8-ounce serving.

Parra said until the project she had never been inclined to eat insects. "I've seen candies with bugs in them and I knew insects were high in protein but I'd never tried them," Parra said. She added that the crunchiness and "buggy" part did not appeal to her.

For herself, Parra said she is interested in the protein powder available. She said she usually has at least one protein shake during the day and she would like to compare her current protein shake and workouts with the cricket powder, as her own experiment.

In addition to the agriscience project, Parra also partnered with fellow FFA members Pudge Hofmann and JT Klinghagen for a marketing project to help Cowboy Cricket Farms to see what type of flavored crickets they should try.

She said Cowboy Cricket Farms produce 100,000 pounds of crickets a year and the demand is higher than the supply. She said the Montana company is just one of several in the United States producing edible insects.

Parra noted Thailand has the largest insect farms in the world.


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