McGill student develops at-home cricket farms

McGill University student Jakub Dzamba is passionate about entomophagy — or eating bugs — so he spent seven years figuring out how to farm crickets.

With Jakub Dzamba’s device, you can raise and eat your own batch of crickets every 2 months

McGill student Jakub Dzamba has spent 7 years figuring out how to farm crickets. (CBC)

McGill University student JakubDzamba is passionate about entomophagy or eating bugs.

He spent seven years figuring out how to farm insects, and experimented in his home.

“My wife and I left for the weekend, and I left one of my farms. When we got home, there were crickets all over the apartment,” Dzamba said.

He came up with a device he hopes will change how we get our protein.

His at-home cricket farm is a small, clear box filled with crickets that you can keep in your kitchen. Scraps that you would normally put in your compost bin go to the crickets instead.

After two months, you have a batch of crickets that you can kill humanely by popping in the freezer. Then, they're ready to be eaten.

Dzamba understands why some people might hesitate to eat insects. He said it wasn't always easy for him.

“It seems weird. You kill bugs all the time, but when you raise them and have them on your desk for two months, I just didn't have the heart to put them in the fridge and kind of euthanize them.”

Dzamba’s launched his at-home cricket farms at The Montreal Botanical Garden at this week's Eating Innovation Conference.

Last year the UN published a report that hailed insects as an underutilized source of food, adding that bugs provide inexpensive, sustainable, high-quality protein.

Aruna Handa, an organizer of the Eating Innovation Conference, said they have comparable protein to meat, with more omega-3s and less cholesterol. Plus, she said, "They're delicious."

For Dzamba, it's not just about the taste.

“I think it can make the world a better place — I think it actually can.”

There are no government regulations in Canada when it comes to producing insects for food.

Dzamba said he’s working on a new farming model he hopes to have ready by the end of the year.