Fish and chirps? Crickets make leap in demand as a protein

Genevieve Gladson Rainville
Genevieve Gladson Rainville turns over meal worms as they bake in an oven Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, in San Francisco. A growing number of "entopreneurs" are trying to persuade consumers that insects are the next super food, a nutritious, low-cost, environmentally friendly source of protein that can help feed a hungry world. But they face a tough job convincing Westerners that crickets, meal worms and caterpillars can be tasty treats. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

WILLISTON, Vt. (AP) — Farmers are raising alternative livestock they say are more ecologically sound than meat but that are sure to bug some people out: crickets.

Interest in edible insects was fueled by a 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Since then, the number of producers of foods containing crickets — from protein bars to chips and pasta sauce — has jumped from zero to about 20 in the United States, while U.S. cricket farms have grown to about a half dozen.

Tomorrow’s Harvest in Williston, Vermont, is among the new cricket farms that don’t use much space to raise the protein-packed food. Steve Swanson raises the crickets in boxes in his basement and has just started selling cricket protein powder online.