In the suburban lanes of Mississauga, Humber College professor Jakub Dzamba’s home looks just like everyone else’s. But the basement-level garage tells a different story. The door opens to a dark room and a cacophony of chirping crickets. Some are waiting to be hatched, most are growing and some are heading towards the end of their life cycle and getting ready to be harvested.
But why would the 34-year-old architectural design teacher be interested in farming crickets in his garage? In 2013, the United Nations published a report Edible Insects: Future of Food and Feed Security. The idea stemming from the report is simple: eat more bugs! For most people in the Western world, this may seem odd. But over two billion people from different cultures around the world already consume many of the 1,900 species of edible insects.
While eating bugs might solve world hunger at some point, eating insects is also better for the environment.
“They require fewer resources and save a lot of water in farming as opposed to other livestock,” said Jarrod Goldin of Entomo Farms in Norwood, east of Peterborough, Ont.
The farm harvests crickets for reptile and human consumption with about a million of the creatures swarming around at any given time. It’s easy to farm them because they consume food waste and produce fewer greenhouse gasses, producing almost zero carbon footprint. Eating bugs also has other benefits as the protein, calcium and iron they contain is as much as other meats and comes with fewer fats.
With funding support from Humber, Dzamba hopes to create a farm inside a shipping container. While the container will sit at the college, the crickets will be fed food waste generated from the school’s hospitality programs.
Chef Mark Jachecki, a professor in the Hospitality program, was also seen making cricket hot dogs, bug smoothie and cricket tacos at the CNE last summer. So Dzamba decided to pull him in for the project.
“I’m working on recipes with mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers. I love working with mealworms because of their flavour,” Jachecki said.
While Jachecki’s recipes are top secret for now, he says that he is working on creating dishes that are common so that anyone could order it.
“Everyone loves hotdogs, so I had cricket hotdogs at the CNE…that’s the idea,” he said.