The sun was shining brightly last Sunday in beautiful Santa Monica as I sat down with a closet friend to enjoy some mimosas and brunch food. Our catch up on life and work was suddenly interrupted as she abruptly stood up and spilled her beverage all over. What caused the frenzy? A cricket had landed on her lap.
Few things perk me up in the morning like receiving an email titled, “New Research on Cricket Farming – Thought You’d Be Interested.” Any contribution to the growing literature on entomophagy is a welcome gift! Last week I received such a message and dove into a great piece called Small-Scale Cricket Farming by Thomas Weigel of Veterinarians Without Borders.
I love when someone rocks my world with a new point of view, it’s a good day. A great day. Darja Dobermann provided that when she suggested we might be focusing our marketing efforts of entomophagy in the wrong areas. Well, not the wrong areas… but not the most effective ones. We already have countries that culturally accept eating insects (that also have climates to support their sustainable breeding). So why are we trying to force insects on other markets before optimizing those?
Darja is doing incredible work examining the potential for entomophagy in undernutrition, specifically anemia and uses in aquaculture in Africa. In our interview we dig a little deeper into work that will change the world.
A low, scuttling sound is audible from the six concrete pens in Boontham Puthachat’s home. He is a cricket farmer. His crickets are nibbling on a mix of chicken feed, pumpkins, and other vegetables to grow for the five weeks before they are harvested.
Boontham is a farmer in Thanon Nang Klan, one of Thailand’s poorest regions. Here, farmers depend solely on the rains to either yield a good rice crop or leave their fields dry and barren. But Boontham is different. His family is one of 30 in his village raising insects to satisfy the growing domestic demand (even through many international diners would rather starve than try a fried grasshopper).
Meet Sengthong. Whether he knows it or not, he is playing a vital role in improving food security in Laos, a country where over 40% of children are undernourished.
Sengthong explains, “I started to collect when I was 35 years old. No one taught me; I did it myself. At first when I was collecting, I used my own hands. I couldn’t collect a lot so I started using a small plastic bag. I then changed to using a bigger bag, wish which I can collect by swinging it around. I concentrate on collecting insects to sell for my income. Because I otherwise don’t know how I would make money.”