Shrimp vs. Crickets: How Can Eating Insects Save the World?

Shrimp are a popular food source all over the world. They are healthy due to their high calcium, omega-3, protein and they are deliciously easy to prepare. Shrimp has been America’s most popular seafood for many years; in 2014 the average amount of shrimp eaten per person annually was 1.8 kilos! Despite being one of the most common allergens, shrimp are considered a delicacy and are very much in demand worldwide.

So why do people love eating many-legged, large-eyed, trash-eating sea creatures but think crickets are disgusting?

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Shrimp have more legs than insects: 5 pairs of walking legs, 5 pairs of swimming legs and 3 pairs of “arms” that they use to feed. They have hard exoskeleton and soft bodies just like insects. They also eat plankton and other ocean waste. While it is lobsters that are considered the cockroaches of the sea, shrimp can easily be compared to a variety of insects including crickets.

Similarities:

Research has shown that people who are allergic to shrimp/shellfish are also allergic to crickets and other insects. Crickets are an even better sources of protein and omega-3 than shrimp. They also have countless of other health benefits including being rich in iron, calcium (a great non-dairy source of calcium!), they are low in fat but have dietary fiber which is not common in the other animals eaten in the west.

The main difference:

Harvesting enough shrimp to feed our shrimp-crazed world has some devastating consequences on the planet. While eating insects is considered ecologically friendly, shrimp are either caught in the wild or farmed and both methods have their setbacks.

Farmed shrimp are often kept in coast side pools so that the tide can carry away the waste and refresh the water. This means that chemicals such as superphosphate, diesel, pesticides and antibiotics pollute the fresh water in the area. In addition to this, a 2014 estimate shows that 38% of the world’s mangroves were destroyed by shrimp farmers to create the ponds.

Catching wild shrimp on the other hand kills between 5 and 18 kilos of “bycatch” for every kilo of shrimp. Bycatch is basically unwanted species that get caught accidentally and includes sharks, sea turtles, star fish, rays and many more. Wild shrimp is also not inspected by the FDA, so the 162 varieties of bacteria (resistant to 10 different antibiotics) can end up on your plate.

This information was taken from a Tree Hugger article. You can read it here.

How is farming or catching crickets better?

According to the Edible Bug Farm, “Insect farming uses a tiny fraction of the feed, water and land needed to raise traditional livestock such as cattle or pigs. Since bugs are not mammals, they are also much less likely to transfer diseases to us.”

Not only does farming crickets require few resources, but it also requires very little space. It is even possible to purchase desktop farms that are fed on kitchen scraps. Livin Farms has created a Hive that produces up to 500 grams of mealworms every week.

Plus, insects reproduce at incredible rates and reach adulthood quickly, so it is easy to grow many insects in a short amount of time and keep repopulating it. Farming and catching insects can even have socio-cultural benefits in developing countries including providing jobs for women and the elderly.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let these three infographics summarize the benefits of cricket farming and conclude why crickets are better than shrimp (and cows, pigs, chickens, etc.)

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DISCOVER SHORTCUTS IN PRAGUE WITH THESE SMARTPHONE APPS

Prague has a unique contrast between it’s historic streets and modern society. With free WiFi offered at most cafes and restaurants as well as many of the newer trams, the following apps can help make your life easier even without a data plan.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c218-Technology/n4770-Discover-Shortcuts-in-Prague-with-these-Smartphone-Apps

How to Wear Food-Themed Earrings? Part 2

Perhaps the most impressive earrings are also the hardest to wear. The egg looks like it’s about to ooze yellow goodness and the bacon even feels crispy! Outside of cooking class the only appropriate occasion I could fathom for wearing these scrumptious earrings was Sunday brunch.

Forgoing my usual outfit that closely resembled my pajamas, I threw on some jeans and a white T-shirt – pretty much the outfit that Tyra Banks urges models to wear on their go-sees. Heels would have been cute if I didn’t live in the city of cobble stones (Prague) plus I’m the complete opposite of a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.

On their own, the single egg and lonely slice of bacon didn’t give the jewelry the justice it deserved. So I opted for an upgraded one earring look (two earrings in one ear!) To avoid a messy overlap I stuck a strawberry stud in between and voilà: gourmet breakfast in my ear.

To draw more focus to one side of my face, I attempted a Katniss-style sideways braid to balance out the look.

Pros: I managed to order my meal by pointing to my ear.

Cons: I couldn’t order pancakes, coffee or orange juice.

Mental note: make one last food-themed earring order.

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What NOT to Do with Cricket Flour

*Revelation since publishing this – what I have is cricket powder, not flour, meaning it’s just 100% ground crickets and not meant to be used as flour at all. Courtesy of Entomophagy Facebook group

The full scoop on how I failed at life (yes, I’m being overly dramatic) and wasted precious cricket flour:

You don’t need to be a great cook to get excited about cricket flour. New recipes pop up every day and the availability of the flour itself is on the rise. Want to know what doesn’t always rise? The batter.

Let me start at the very beginning…

It took me months to actually get decently priced cricket flour in the Czech Republic where eating insects is still technically “illegal”. At the moment insects are not considered suitable for human consumption and it will unfortunately stay that way until the EU agrees on some regulations.

There are ways to get around the law so there are bug-eating events and it is possible to legally order insect products from abroad (except from Amazon.com).

Anyway…

I finally managed to get a kilo of cricket flour through a friend and I didn’t let my lack of cooking experience hold me back. Finding a recipe online was surprisingly easy, I even had too many options! Desserts such as banana bread seemed a bit too advanced so I went with pancakes.

Pancakes are the only thing I am confident at cooking and I was happy to find a recipe that didn’t require substitution of regular flour. Pure cricket flour meant more protein and less guilt once I ate all the pancakes!

I turned up the music as I mixed the chocolaty-scented flour with some baking powder and a pinch of salt in one bowl. Then I combined melted butter, milk, eggs and vanilla in another. I wasn’t too worried about the unusual wetness of the light brown batter because I assumed that it was the cricket pancake norm.

The moment I poured half a cup of batter into the pan, my mistake became evident. Even at a low heat the batter exploded with air bubbles and refused to turn solid. After several minutes of panic, spatula aerobics and experimenting with the heat, I was forced to scrape burnt sad-looking crumbs off the frying pan.

Some self-pity, head-scratching and a glass of white wine later gave me courage to try and save the rest of the flour. It took at least 300 grams of regular all-purpose flower to give the batter a nice firm texture. I danced with joy as the glob of cricketness sizzled exactly the way a pancake should.

Very soon I had several beautifully fat pancakes stacked on a plate. I took photographic evidence and smothered them in maple syrup. Unfortunately it was not enough. Trying not to hurt my feelings but failing, my husband carefully said “hmm, they taste like crickets.”

We each ate an entire pancake with scrunched up noses and saved the rest for later (or more likely never). Tasting like crickets is not necessarily a bad thing unless you expected sweet chocolaty goodness. It’s comparable to taking a swig of milk when you think it’s orange juice.

Now I know to be wary of flour time and research before attempting to cook anything. There are plenty of Facebook groups and online forums to ask for advice. Also next time I will go with something that has more ingredients to avoid an overwhelming taste of crickets. So learn from my mistakes and don’t cry over failed pancakes! 🙂

Cricket flour can be ordered and shipped worldwide here.

Recipes are available here.

Get advice and meet fellow entomophagy enthusiasts here.

SUMMER FUN: CLIMBING IN PRAGUE

Rock climbing is a perfect way to have some fun, get a work out or try something new. There are many climbing opportunities in Prague and it is recommended that absolute beginners start off in an indoor climbing gym with an artificial wall (see list below). But with a bit more experience and some sunshine you can enjoy one of seven outdoor cliffs situated in Prague designated for climbing.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c210-Sprts-Recreation/n6164-Summer-Fun-Climbing-in-Pragu

SUMMER FUN – CAVE EXPLORING

The Czech Republic is known for its vast amount of caves and underground areas. Created as long as millions of years ago, these areas are mysterious and some still unexplored. Each cave has something exciting to offer so make sure to add these to your bucket list.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c210-Sports-Recreation/n6066-Summer-fun-Cave-Exploring

SUMMER FUN: GEOCACHING

Geocaching is defined as a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. It is a fun activity that can be done anywhere in the world and there is even a large community of geocaching enthusiasts. The idea was born on May 3rd 2000 with an upgrade to GPS technology and has been growing ever since.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c210-Sports-Recreation/n6029-Summerfun-Geocaching