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Edible insect farm opens in the U.S.

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, May 23, 2014, 6:40 PM - An Ohio cricket farm has become the first in the U.S. to raise crickets for human consumption.

The cricket farm is the brainchild of the startup company  Six Foods, which plans to raise crickets to maturity.

The insects will then be used to create a high-protein "flour" that will be used to make cookies and chips.

"We know insects are the future of food," the company says on its Kickstarter page, and the founders may be on to something.

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Last May, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report arguing that eating insects can combat food shortages and help slow the pace of climate change.

Like Six Foods, the report champions  the nutritional and environmental benefits of farming insects for human consumption, arguing the practice could ease the rising demand for food in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

While uncommon in the western world, approximately 2 billion people, largely in Asia, Africa and Latin America, supplement their diets with insects.

Beetles, caterpillars, wasps, grasshoppers and crickets are the most commonly consumed, but 1,900 of the 1 million known insect species are eaten by humans.

In many countries, it is considered a low-fat delicacy, praised for high protein and iron content.

Meeru Dhalwala, co-owner and chef at Vij's Rangoli Restaurant in Vancouver, B.C.  has been serving up insects for some time.

"The key is to prepare insect dishes that are so delicious that the taste outweighs the psychological fear of eating [them]," Dhalwala told The Weather Network in 2013.

According to Dhalwala, insects have a mild flavour that varies among species.

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Crickets have a "grassy" taste, while grasshoppers have a nutty flavour.

Worms taste like mild grapes.

"I am a big supporter and cheerleader for introducing insects into our North American diets," Dhalwala says.

"Environmentally, they are much more sustainable to raise than cattle, pigs or chickens in terms of polluting our air, soil and rivers.  Insect farming uses much less energy [and doesn't] require the use of antibiotics or other medicines because they naturally survive in large crowds."  

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