When Claire and Chad Simons’s son came home from school one day having eaten a “delicious” snicker-doodle made from cricket flour, the couple were more than intrigued. The next day they started to raise crickets in their basement. Driven by concern about climate change, they hoped to create a truly sustainable source of protein for hungry families. Today, the couple are co-founders of 3 Cricketeers and raise millions of crickets each month in a 3,500 square-foot indoor farm. Watch this inspiring video of a family that is working to overcome the “ick factor” of eating insects and put crickets on your dinner table.
For more on 3 Cricketeers, read our story: Willing to Eat Crickets? This Business Hopes You’ll Turn a Dare Into a Healthful Habit.
PIX: Workers taking care of the cricket farm in the warehouse.
Sue SOT: How old are those crickets?
Claire: These are about eight weeks. So they were full-grown, yes. They've had a nice life. They were breeding. Crickets, they don't jump out. They like to be together, being in their little habitat.
L/T: Claire Simons – Co-Owner – 3 Cricketeers
PIX: Shots of the cricket farm, Claire and Chad cooking in kitchen. Claire measures and mills crickets into flour, bakes crickets on cookie sheets.
Claire: In the kitchen, we dehydrate the crickets and process them. I mill them into a fine powder. We make cookies with that, we season them and roast them whole. We make them into snack mixes, cover them in chocolate.
PIX: Claire and Chad in the warehouse, putting crickets into freezer.
CLAIRE: How many pounds do you have coming out of the freezer?
Chad: Out of the freezer, I think we've been averaging about 4 pounds.
CLAIRE: I'm thinking to put it in a dehydrator now, so 4 pounds?
CHAD: Oh. No, we have 3, so it would be 12 going in there.
Claire: Okay. So that’s good.
L/T: Chad Simons – Co-Owner – 3 Cricketeers
CHAD: What you just saw was what we call the Iron Maiden. It's the walk-in freezer. They fall asleep in about a half an hour. They go into hibernation, and we leave them in overnight before we harvest them. They're frozen solid. Then we rinse them off and Claire takes them.
CLAIRE: And I take them into the kitchen.
PIX: Shots of cattle; Claire cooking crickets.
Claire: Chad and I, we definitely always had discussions about, there's not going to be enough water and there's not going to be enough land. We can't sustain the way we're going. Crickets, obviously, it's a fraction of the land, feed, water, than it would for other sources of protein. Cattle, I believe it's about 10,000 gallons of water per pound, and crickets it's one. And obviously, land, crickets emit virtually no greenhouse gas. There's really no byproduct.
Claire: It kind of looks like ground beef.
Claire: So climate change is our mission.
PIX: Maddox working with the cricket eggs and watering the trays of eggs with peat moss, putting in incubator.
L/T: Maddox Simons – The 3rd Cricketeer
Claire: This is where we collect the eggs from the female crickets. They lay them in the peat moss. So Maddox collected them and now he is moistening them so they stay in the incubator, they don’t dry out. And so he’s just kind of covering them with water...you can see a lot of them that have just hatched. These are little, just hatched, baby pinhead crickets. So their exoskeleton hasn’t hardened yet, so they’re really light.
Sue SOT: You’re blowing the little babies off the top?
Maddox: Yes. We like to get as much as we can.
Claire: Our son came home on Earth Day with a cricket flour cookie from school and said, "You'll never believe what I ate." And it was a snickerdoodle. And it was delicious. Chad and I, we both kind of looked at each other and said, "Oh, my gosh." So we, the next day, built a habitat downstairs in the basement, next to the washer and dryer. We had a little humidifier and set up a little heater and bought some crickets. We were able to breed them, and we were able to hatch the eggs.
TEXT: A year later in 2016, the couple felt ready to establish a commercial cricket farm.
Claire: When we first started looking for space to farm, it was unheard of. We say “cricket farm,” they don't understand. They obviously think it's outside. They don't realize it's inside. People thought we were crank-calling them.
Claire: After we moved in here and had our setup going, the beginning was really getting the farming down. At first we really thought, “Maybe people will want to buy them frozen raw next to the shrimp.” And that didn't happen.
PIX: Various insects.
Claire: The ick factor is definitely there. In our culture we look at a bug as a pest, and it's a preconceived notion. You just think it's dirty. You think it's something that we shouldn't be eating.
PIX: Claire measuring and milling crickets in the kitchen.
TEXT: Crickets are eaten in countries across Asia, Africa and Central America.
TEXT: But in the U.S., FDA regulations do not recognize them as a human food.
TEXT: They can only be sold as a component of food.
Claire: Insects have been eaten for generations, for millennia. So it’s not something new. But I think that bigger chain stores, for this to really be a mass product, I think they want to have regulations in place first.
TEXT: Crickets have a huge nutritional value.
TEXT: Two tablespoons of the powder equal about 16 grams of protein.
PIX: Claire cooking tortillas with Chef Gustavo Romero.
L/T: Chef Gustavo Romero – Recipe Consultant
Sue SOT: What are you making for us?
Gustavo: So we’re going to make some cricket tortillas. We’re going to incorporate a little bit of cricket powder in the masa. And we’re going to make a winter squash taco.
Gustavo: When you understand the flavors, you really appreciate that, I think. For me, it might be even a little nostalgic when I'm able to taste something that I grew up eating. Cricket, you know, it’s not very easily sourced here. Thanks to Claire, now I can have.
Claire: Well, you taught us what a cricket should taste like.
Gustavo: So if you are trying to use just cricket as flour, it will not work, it will not stick. We’re going to add about a tablespoon of cricket powder per pound of masa.
Gustavo: I grew up in Central Mexico. The way I look at corn, I always see such an important part of the ecosystem, because I grew up around it. There are crickets everywhere. It's always the idea of putting things together that belong in one environment; they kind of just mix well. So when we talk about doing the tortilla, for me, it just makes sense. It's something, they should go well together, because they coexist.
Gustavo: While we're doing that, we're going to finish this sauce. So it's dried chilis, peanuts, garlic and oil.
Sue SOT: Sounds amazing.
Gustavo: Yeah. We call it salsa macha.
Claire: Crickets, this is something that has been here all along. We’re bringing it back, showing people that this is something that we should be eating. We feel very strongly about it, and it does allow us to get up in the morning, to know that it's not the answer, but raising crickets, it's a piece of the puzzle. And humans, the way we eat, that is the most important thing.
PIX: Claire and Gustavo eating in kitchen.
Gustavo: I’m going to make one more!