Elliot Mermel and a group of his college friends decided on the idea, and are working on a completely self sufficient model that is acceptable, even to animal lovers who might object to crickets used for meals. "They are one of the highest sources of protein, and widely eaten in the world, with a much lower carbon footprint that, let's say, a cow, or a pig" says Mermel. Their product is a ground cricket powder that can be used to make breads, put into salads, or smoothies for example.
The crickets themselves grow up in special, temperature and humidity controlled hydroponic type covers. The babies get classical music played to them...and when they outgrow their "brood room" they are moved into the adult "condos": egg crates in another environmentally controlled room. The little critters get fed special meals, get to mate and live pretty much their 7 week lifestyle here. At that point, the temperature is lowered slowly, until they fall asleep, and die. They are ground up into powder and voila: cricket powder for your pizza, or whatever you want.
Now, crickets are popular around the world, but Mermel admits that this might take some time for US customers to get used to. Although, if there is a market anywhere, its right here. We asked a dozen people outside coffee houses in the San Fernando Valley is they would try a ground cricket pancake. Most, initially said no, but when the whole process was explained to them, as well as the health benefits, about half admitted they'd give it a try. Consensus seems to be that the powder tastes like ground almonds....sort of.
If you want to find out more, Coalo Valley Farms is in Van Nuys. Their office is not open yet, so it's best to reach them at Coalovalley.farm, or (424) 381-7289.
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