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California Is Getting Its First Edible Cricket Farm In The Valley

Chapulines (Photo by Chad Zuber via Shutterstock)
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A young entrepreneur is opening up a cricket farm in the San Fernando Valley, and these crickets are intended for human consumption. Cricket farms have been around in the U.S. since the '40s, though typically used to supply to pet or bait shops. The first cricket farm with the intention of supplying humans with food opened in Ohio last year. Elliot Mermel, 25, is working on what he says will be California's first ever urban cricket farm, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Coalo Valley Farms exists in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse space at 7646 Densmore Ave. in Van Nuys, and will contain 175 bins, each packed with 2,000 crickets.

While it might seem weird to some to eat crickets, many people in other countries regularly eat insects. Crickets aren't bad for you and are, in fact, high in protein, iron and calcium. The Verge called crickets "the future of food." Marmel was also lured into the cricket business for environmental reasons, as raising livestock uses a tremendous amount of resources compared to raising crickets.

Mermel, originally from Rhode Island, said he chose Los Angeles as the home of his cricket farm because of the climate, which is good for crickets, and because "Los Angeles was early in adopting environmental policies and food fitness trends."

Marmel said he has figured out a way to humanely farm the crickets, and he'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in two weeks. Customers will be able to start buying cricket powder in August, at a rate of $44 to $55 per pound. Marmel described the taste as similar to smoked almonds with a "nice, nutty flavor."

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If you can't wait until August to try crickets, there are a few places around town that have the insects on the menu, especially Oaxacan restaurants. At Guelaguetza in Koreatown, for example, you can order chapulines sun-dried and seasoned with garlic and lime, or served with tomato, jalapeno, onion and cheese, according to the L.A. Times.