What controversial meat is being farmed in WA?

HINT: it’s small and has more than four legs.

It’s been hailed as the protein of the future, but this new meat being farmed in Western Australia may tickle your skin before your tastebuds.

The cricket has long been heralded as the future of food. A sustainable, environment-friendly protein packed solution to world hunger, but will Australia eat it?

Crickets have been a food source in Cambodia and Vietnam for hundreds of years. Only recently has the insect gained popularity in the west with Canada and the US farming and selling the product for years.

Image: Crickets fried and eaten in Cambodia

Australia is pretty slow on the ‘insect eating game’, as this will only be the second cricket farm in Australia after  Sydney.

Grubs-Up, the South-Western company will produce crickets for protein powder, snack bars and potentially condiments.

Paula Pownall the founder of Grubs- Up has been researching edible crickets since she quit her day job in 2015. After a long haul, she is finally beginning her cricket business, she explains to the ABC.

"It means that we can actually sell that product and really upscale our business and production on a commercial level," she said

The farm is made up of large tubs stacked on top of each other, like a vertical farm. She believes the farming is more sustainable.

We go from hatching to harvest within six to eight weeks, and within that time we have pretty much a zero waste system

So we use recycled food waste, fruit and vegetable scraps and within that six to eight weeks we also turn their manure into fertiliser."

Farming crickets also requires very little water only 400 millilitres per 1,000 crickets over the crickets lifespan.

Despite their health benefits, obvious sustainability and cost effective farming it’s a hard idea to swallow.

Imagine chewing through legs and he metallic exterior of a fully grown cricket?

Her solution is to grind the meat down until it is a totally unrecognisable powdery substance ideal for protein powder.

"Most proteins on the market are actually only 30 per cent, cricket powder is actually 69 per cent protein," Pownall explains.

And not only that it's full of amino acids, folate and really high in vitamin B12.

There is huge demand for protein based powders for weightlifters and fitness industry workers. At the moment whey protein owns the market, but the fitness community is moving toward more plant based protein products. After the initial shock of eating cricket wears of cricket, protein has the potential to be the next bug protein product.

It’ll take time to adjust to the notion of bug eating, but something so sustainable and so packed with protein should not be reviled for long.

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