Turns out crickets are becoming pretty relevant – and for more than just the indication of a bad joke (*crickets chirping*).
The world is struggling with raising animals for nutritional purposes – there are conflicting ideas on animal cruelty, but perhaps more importantly, the problematic ecological footprint it causes. Raising cows for beef, for instance, requires enormous amounts of land and water (mostly to grow feed), and emits significant greenhouse gases. As we look for environmentally sustainable alternatives, edible insects are becoming an increasingly viable and attractive option.
This isn’t really a new idea. In fact, it even has its own term – entomophagy. Described by Merriam-Webster as simply “the practice of eating insects”, this has been a common occurrence for a long time in many parts of the world, ranging from New Zealand to South America.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, more than 2 billion people in over 80% of countries consume insects as a part of their diet. And in case you’re wondering about variety, over 1,900 species were edible as of 2012, with this number only increasing as time passes. (Source: UN FAO, Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security)
So, is this worth buying into? Well…As they say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
100 grams of insects contain nearly the same amount of protein as meat, but they contain less fat and fewer calories. Not too shabby!
Not only are they protein-rich, they are a great source of minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium. Their exoskeleton is made of chitin, a prebiotic fiber that’s great for our diet; it is believed to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
From protein powder to ready-for-hiking protein bars, this sustainable superfood is versatile and healthy. Ready to try one yet?
Okay, so crickets are the next chicken. But why on Earth is a refrigeration company writing about them?
Glad you asked (sort of).
North America is certainly lagging on the idea of edible insects. However, we are seeing a growing interest in Canada these days – especially with London, Ontario about to become home to the largest automated cricket processing facility in the world!
Considering they are a part of the food and beverage industry, it makes sense that they would have refrigeration and HVAC needs. So we thought it was a good time to take a closer look at this, and what options make the most sense for their refrigeration needs.
It begins with the breeding/growing area, which is maintained at a set temperature and humidity. From here, the chirpy fellas are moved to the harvesting area. Both instances require cooling, heating and humidity control.
Perhaps the main highlight when it comes to cricket processing, however, is the next step. The live crickets are separated and sent to an Individual Quick Freeze, which can be done with a spiral freezer or a tunnel freezer. These freezers are maintained at a low temperature, well below freezing.
Natural refrigerants (we’re looking at you specifically, Ammonia) are the best solution to attain this low temperature with the best efficiency. The energy saving are far higher than using a synthetic refrigerant, and more environmentally friendly too. The energy profile means a natural refrigerant solution provides very quick payback. And suppliers of spiral freezers default to Ammonia in the food industry - this instance is no different.
As CIMCO team lead Peter Reeve explains, “The spiral/tunnel freezer is critical to the entire process. If there were only one and it were to fail, the entire facility would come to a halt. That’s why, like with any other food production facility, a centralized refrigeration system makes the most business sense. Natural refrigerant systems come with the proper level of redundancy to cover any equipment failures, and the waste heat generated can be used for the other crucial part of the process – HVAC. This fully integrated thermal system would provide the best efficiency, especially when compared to using several stand-alone systems.”
In terms of our commitment to sustainability, we find that edible insects offer an incredible solution to a few different ecological concerns. Not only do they have a tiny environmental footprint while offering health benefits, the food production facility can run on natural refrigerants and use heat recovery to lower emissions and be sustainable too. It’s a win-win!
So go ahead and pass us the truffled cricket popcorn (we’re fancy sometimes); we’re ready to see where the future is going.