Why cricket powder is being served up as a protein alternative

There's a new and unusual food popping up on grocery shelves throughout the Maritimes.

Powder is nutritious and more environmentally friendly than traditional protein sources, says dietitian

Cricket powder is now being sold at grocery stores in the Maritimes. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

There's a new and unusual food popping up on grocery shelves throughout the Maritimes.

Cricket powder is being served up at Atlantic Superstore locations for use in smoothies or baking and cooking. The ground-up insects are touted as an excellent source of protein and some vitamins:  a two and a half tablespoon serving provides 13 grams of protein and 100 per cent of your daily recommended vitamin B12.

Crickets are an alternative to traditional protein sources, as they require less water and grow in small spaces, according to Angela Dawson, a registered dietitian in Charlottetown. At least two billion people worldwide eat insects regularly.

The cricket powder can be added to granola bars, smoothies, soups and other foods. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"It's something new to Canadians but I think with time it'll be something that will be more common," she said. "But it is definitely something for us to get used to."

The thought of eating insects didn't seem to bug P.E.I. Superstore shoppers Jeanne Bradley and Ron Doyle.

Using crickets for food has a lower environmental footprint than conventional protein sources, according to Angela Dawson, a registered dietitian at Atlantic Superstore in Charlottetown. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"You know how some things taste kinda medicinal, it doesn't have that taste," Bradley said. "It has a very nice chocolatey, smooth taste, and a bit of a crunch, it's nice."

"I like the taste of it, I like the crunch ... I guess that's the crickets," Doyle said.

Two and a half tablespoons of the powder contains 13 grams of protein and enough vitamin B12 to meet daily requirements. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Farming crickets for human consumption leaves a smaller footprint on the environment than more traditional sources of protein like beef, pork or poultry. The crickets for the powder are grown at a farm in Ontario.

While crickets as a source of food might not be widely popular in Canada yet, there are plenty of potential uses for the new powder.

"It's something you can incorporate into your cooking and baking, topping it on oatmeal, yogurt, incorporating into baked goods, soups, chilis, energy bars, smoothies," Dawson said.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown