It’s crunch time!
A Park Slope architect is building futuristic cricket farms in the Navy Yard that he says are the world’s first germ-free way to breed the bugs on a large scale — and he’s hoping Brooklyn chefs will turn the high-protein insect into the borough’s next food fad now they’re able to get their hands on a clean, free-range, local variety.
“The farm will be the Mack Daddy of cricket-growing processes — it’s a super-sanitary way to harvest crickets locally,” said Mitchell Joachim, the co-president of architecture firm Terreform One, which has in the past dreamed up floating gyms and a hydrogen peroxide-powered jetpack.
The inventor originally designed his farm as a similar flight of fancy — an igloo-esque survival shelter composed of 224 interconnected plastic cricket houses inside which humans could both huddle up and chow down after a disaster — but says he soon realized that there was a real market for his creation.
Many people around the world are starving, while the rest of the human race is scarfing down meat at an unsustainable rate — and the solution to both issues, he says, is for everyone to eat more bugs.
“We can’t go on eating steak and the amount of livestock we do,” he said. “The key to solving hunger is through insect protein being a much more integrated part of our diet.”
Joachim says the nimble arthropods taste like figs or nuts, depending on how they’re processed — and you can change their flavor by feeding them orange or lemon peel.
Many cricket-eating cultures down the bugs whole, but Joachim expects local cooks to grind them into flour and incorporate the grist into chocolates or breads.
“It gives a new meaning to the term ‘everything bagel,’ ” he said.
The company is also employing a chef to come up with new recipes to demonstrate the bugs’ versatility, he said.
Joachim’s factory can breed up to 50,000 of the creepy-crawlies in a week, though he is selling the individual pods — which can each hold 200 crickets — for $80 a pop.
He believes there is huge market for the farms in Silicon Valley, where bug-breeders currently harvest crickets using home-made Tupperware systems — but he think Kings County is the place that will really hop on board the cricket cuisine movement, because people here are open- and eco-minded enough to embrace it as the food source of the future.
“If there ever was a chance for Utopia on Earth, that would be Brooklyn,” he said.
And he isn’t the only one who thinks so — a Williamsburg company called Exo has been selling ground-up crickets in health-food bars for years.