Bugs as livestock? A Canadian insect farm is taking cricket powder mainstream

Loblaws is introducing President's Choice cricket powder and Canadian farmer Jarrod Goldin is supplying the crickets. He says it's the food of the future.
Production facility manager Derek Delahaye sorts roasted crickets at the Entomo Farms cricket processing facility in Norwood Ont. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)
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If the thought of eating crickets makes you a bit squeamish, Jarrod Goldin wants you to reconsider. 

"It's yummy and delicious. It's extremely healthy, and it's really good for the environment," Goldin tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury. 

Earlier this week, Loblaws announced that it is adding cricket powder to its line of President's Choice products. Goldin, who is the co-founder of Entomo Farms, runs a cricket operation in Norwood, Ontario. His company will now be Loblaws' new official insect supplier. 

"As a Canadian company ourselves, and having an anchor Canadian company like President's Choice and Loblaw behind it, it really is significant to us," Goldin says. 

"I think for validation of the product, for exposure and an opportunity to educate the public, we're really proud to be partnered with them and really excited for Canadians to have more choice around healthy, sustainable food." 

Entomo Farms, located in Norwood, Ont., is North America's first human-grade insect farm. (Entomo Farms)

Getting the cricket farm started

In 2013, the United Nations released a report detailing the benefits of eating insects. At the time, Goldin says he also saw investors on shows like Shark Tank buying stakes in companies that made consumer packaged goods with cricket powder.

It was then that he and his family saw an opportunity to farm crickets for consumption.

"In terms of the mechanization on the farming side, there isn't much precedent out there. We've really had to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and figure things out on our own," he says. 

Entomo Farms currently has three barns, each about 20,000 square feet in size. The company raises what they call free-range crickets, which means there is lots of space for the insects to run around. 

The insects live in cricket condos, which resemble cardboard partitions for wine bottles. Each condo houses roughly 10,000 to 15,000 crickets. 

"They like to burrow and hide," Goldin says. "So they kind of hang out in these crevices of the condos." 

As many as 15,000 crickets live inside each of these specially-made 'cricket condos,' which resemble cardboard partitions for wine bottles. (Entomo Farms)

The perks of consuming crickets

There have been many studies documenting the advantages of eating crickets. According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, farming insects carries less environmental risk and requires much less water than raising livestock like cows or pigs.

Among other benefits, the report also says crickets emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than other livestock.

What's more, eating bugs comes with plenty of health benefits. Insects can be a great source of protein and minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium.

In addition to that, just 100 grams of crickets contains nearly the same amount of protein as meat, but with fewer calories and less fat.

They're also beneficial to your immune system because they include a protein called chitin, which promotes the growth of healthy stomach bacteria.

Roasted crickets are shown at the Entomo Farms cricket processing facility in Norwood, Ont. (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press)

Plans to diversify 

While eating insects isn't that popular in Canada, many parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa have already incorporated them into their diets. 

Still, Goldin sees bugs as the protein of the future. And even though Entomo Farms primarily farms crickets, the company has already started to expand to include other livestock.

"We like to say that crickets are the gateway bug. I think what the California roll was to sushi, crickets are to entomophagy," he says. 

"We do have a small humble mealworm operation as well. And this year, we are going to start investing and ramping up the mealworm side of our production." 

Crickets are packaged at the Entomo Farms cricket processing facility in Norwood, Ont. Entomo Farms is Loblaws' new insect supplier. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

To hear our full interview with Jarrod Goldin, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.