Focus: Land Resources
Location: Williston, VT
Meat production accounts for about 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and uses 37% of all freshwater (FAO). As a result, the protein we eat can have a serious negative environmental impact. The United Nations food and agriculture organization states, “By 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double.” Expanding farmland is not a sustainable solution; what can we do to make our protein consumption more sustainable? The Vermont family owned farm, Tomorrow’s Harvest, found a solution to this problem, offering an alternative source of protein that can both fulfill our dietary needs and protect our environment: crickets!
Tomorrow’s Harvest is a family owned and operated cricket farm located in Williston, Vermont, raising and harvesting organic crickets for human and pet consumption. A few years back, Tomorrow’s Harvest was just a good parenting idea, as owners Steve and Jen Swanson tried to feed their children without relying on large profit-driven corporations. Now, the Swansons are trying to make this alternative source of protein available to everyone. The transition from other sources of protein to crickets may seem strange, but the environmental impact of switching from beef (one of Vermont’s largest industries) to crickets is shocking. For example, it takes 25 pounds of cow feed to produce a pound of beef vs. only 2.1 pounds of cricket feed to produce a pound of cricket protein. Furthermore, cows produce 342 pounds of CO2 equivalent per pound of protein vs. only 4 with crickets. Perhaps most alarming, it takes 4,618 gallons of water to harvest one pound of edible beef as opposed to a minuscule 1.25 gallons for a pound of edible crickets. Tomorrow’s Harvest crickets have twice the protein; five times the magnesium and three times the iron of beef. Tomorrow’s Harvest also has a variety of recipes on their website that use cricket powder, to avoid consuming them in bug form. Their chocolate chip cookies, 40% of which are made from cricket powder are especially delicious, and a big hit in Vermont.
The Washington Post has recently deemed crickets “the gateway bug,” as 30+ companies nationwide are currently selling cricket-based foods. With the increasing demand for cricket and other insect based foods, more and more companies are starting to catch on and enter the market. Currently, the Swansons are seeking larger facilities in order to fill the rapidly growing demand for their crickets. The environmentally conscious state of Vermont was an ideal starting place for the Swansons, but with a little more recognition, they hope their initiative will be “the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way we eat” Would you give this sustainable meat alternative a shot?
Environmental impact: Sustainable agriculture, efficient water use, efficient land use, avoided CO2 emissions, efficient water use
Measurement: Tomorrow’s Harvest
Looking to discover more impact ventures? Join us at www.groundupproject.net