Holy cow! Jiminy Cricket! Sarah Schlafly of Des Peres wants us to kick the red meat burger habit in favor of incorporating a little more cricket into our daily diet. She is issuing a “Cricket Challenge” in the Gateway City.
“The idea behind the exciting Cricket Challenge is to dare St. Louisans to try a dish or beverage made with powdered crickets,” said Schlafly, CEO of her company named Mighty Cricket. “The idea is to put St. Louis on the map for innovation in sustainable food choices.”
By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)
Schlafly has enlisted more than 50 food businesses that are on board with the Cricket Challenge, including eateries such as Amigos Cantina, Layla, Symbowl, Schlafly Bottleworks, The Blue Duck and all FroYo Premium Yogurt locations.
Food outlets will feature cupcakes, yogurt dishes, chocolaty-cricket covered popcorn, quesadillas, muffins and more with cricket toppings or ingredients.
Schlafy’s company is launching the Cricket Challenge as a way to entice St. Louisans to try a drink or dish made with cricket flour or finely-ground powder.
“This challenge is simply pivotal in normalizing crickets as a viable clean protein source,” said Schlafly. “When Americans experience cricket protein in pizzas, tacos, curries, smoothies and ice cream, this ingredient will suddenly go from exotic to mainstream.”
“This is kind of personal for me,” added Schlafly, “I just got tired of eating processed, industrialized meat. It’s not very good for you, the animals often are mistreated, and the farming for meat products is terrible for our environment and a known contributor to climate change.”
Lest one think Schlafly is some wild-eyed liberal who fell under the influence of Green New Deal academics, she is actually an accounting major who went to Truman State University after going to Westminster High School in Town & Country. Her grandmother was arch-conservative Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum.
Her extended family includes cousins Tom and David Schlafly, successful food and beverage businessmen with a respected brand name in St. Louis. All this information may just leave those ready to harp on Sarah Schlafly’s credentials totally silent – crickets.
Crickets in the Kitchen?
“Customers will have to ask for it in their smoothies or on their yogurt,” said Pratt. “We expect a lot of requests for crickets at our Webster Groves location.
“We also expect to do well with it in The Loop and Central West End,” Pratt added. “I guess I don’t expect it to move as well in St. Charles or Chesterfield. We should do okay at South County sites with a lot of young high school students who are willing to try something new and who want to save the planet.”
Pratt said he is into the sustainable lifestyle and caring about the planet, which is why he decided to be a part of the Cricket Challenge.
“If we get a good buzz out of this, if we have happy customers who start talking it up on social media, we will consider having a tray of cricket topping as an option along with the fruit and nuts and candy toppings that we have now.”
Schlafly said St. Louis chefs are excited about the challenge. She said they find it easy to creatively blend the powder into everything from cocktails to pasta – to international dishes.
“Crickets are a good source of protein, vitamin B12 and calcium. I want to be part of this good product,” said Fahime Mohammad, chef at Sameem’s Afghan Restaurant & Catering in St. Louis. “It’s exciting to be part of something that’s going to make a big impact.”
According to Schlafly, cricket powder can be used as a substitute for flour or a supplement in cooking. It adds a pleasing nutty flavor to items.
She said Amigos Cantina in Kirkwood will use it in the guacamole. Not far from Amigos Cantina, Kirkwood Pop Co. will mix the cricket powder in a chocolate coating for its gourmet popcorn.
Passion for Sustainability
Schlafly said a major attraction of crickets as a food product is that one-quarter of the Earth’s inhabitants now eat them regularly. They’re taste and safety tested. Two-billion people are consuming the food source that is nutritionally rich, packed with proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
“It’s a very sustainable food source,” explained Schlafly. “A pound of beef involves the use of 1,799 gallons of water, 6.6 pounds of grain and the release of 15 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A pound of cricket requires one gallon of water, .55 pounds of grain and .15 of a pound of CO2 release.”
In addition to reducing greenhouse gases like CO2, Schlafly said more use of insects as a food source will drastically curtail the damaging amounts of methane being put into the atmosphere from raising livestock.
Schlafly said her company now imports most of its cricket product from cricket farms in Southeast Asia. However, she said Mighty Cricket has plans to start cricket farms in Missouri for use both at home and in restaurants.
In case you are wondering, the kinds of crickets used for Mighty Cricket are the same ones that may be jumping now on your front and back porch. However, Schlafly said she knows this thought may induce a “yuck factor” for someone thinking about a bite of cricket.
“Our crickets are dried and crushed into a fine powder, so we can proudly guarantee that you are never going to find any legs, wings or antennae in our cricket product,” Schlafly said.
Schalfly said she will guarantee that you can find some new energy in your life when you start digesting a bit of cricket in the morning. (She does caution that crickets can trigger allergies associated with crustaceans or shellfish.)
“I start my morning every day with a cricket smoothie,” said Schlafly. “So many Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, which causes sluggishness and a lack of energy. Crickets are a great source for B12. I can tell that I don’t have the same pep during the day now if I don’t start with my cricket smoothie.”
Come to think of it, that puppet in the Disney movie, “Pinocchio,” didn’t have a lot of pep and energy when his friend Jiminy Cricket wasn’t around. Schlafy may be onto something.