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Biden’s USDA uses taxpayer funds to research garbage-fed crickets as ‘sustainable protein source’
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP via Getty Images

Biden’s USDA uses taxpayer funds to research garbage-fed crickets as ‘sustainable protein source’

The Biden administration’s Department of Agriculture awarded a $131,500 grant last year to a firm that makes cricket protein powder made for human consumption, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

In July 2023, the grant was awarded to Mighty Cricket to fund a St. Louis-based cricket farm, where the insects would be fed landfill “food waste.”

According to the grant’s summary, the research would address “the need for more cost-efficient production of crickets as a sustainable protein source.” It notes that the cost of cricket protein is more than twice the amount of other protein alternatives, citing a “lack of innovation and economies of scale.”

“Unlike the beef, pork, poultry, and soy industries, there has been very little innovation invested into farming crickets,” the summary stated. “Most of the global production occurs in Thailand, where goods are generally produced via manual labor versus automation.”

It claimed that manual labor costs, electricity, and feed are driving up the cost of cricket protein. The research aims to address feed costs and “the need to recapture food waste in the U.S., diverting a portion of food waste from landfills.”

“The problem of food waste is significant,” it continued. “According to the USDA, in the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.”

The agency’s Economic Research Service found approximately 133 billion pounds, or $161 billion worth of food, was lost at the retail and consumer levels in 2010. Food waste makes up roughly 22% of municipal landfill waste, according to the USDA.

Mighty Cricket believes it could use this food waste as a “huge opportunity” to feed insects “at lower cost than what is available on the market” and then pass those savings along to consumers of its cricket protein.

The grant summary argued that other protein sources pose a “substantial strain on the ecosystem, requiring unsustainable quantities of water, land, and feed as inputs.”

“Furthermore, animal based proteins are also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, estimated at 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions,” it claimed.

To keep up with population growth, Mighty Cricket believes the food production industry needs to “dramatically shift towards resource conservation.” It noted that the United Nations “recognizes edible insects as a viable alternative to producing food and feed security.”

As part of the proposed research, the company “will collect data on how the cricket feed produced from waste performs compares to standard feed on the market.”

“The success of the project will be measured on the following objectives: Cost savings of the feed, cricket growth, and mortality rates. Ultimately, the company hopes to lower production costs and the environmental footprint of the U.S. food system,” the grant summary concluded.

The Columbia Missourian reported that Mighty Cricket processes at least 800 crickets per day. According to the company’s website, it sells cricket flour, oatmeal, and vanilla- and chocolate-flavored protein powders. Its products are soy-, eggs-, dairy-, gluten-, and peanut-free.

Neither the USDA nor Mighty Cricket responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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