I have been experimenting with new systems of protein synthesis and nutrition at Mezzacello. I started out with meal worms and beetles. Meal worms were high in quality protein, but they required just right difficult conditions and moisture. Additionally they required a lot of food. So much food that I was starving out my worm ecosystem. Then I came upon crickets. Actually crickets are a very good choice.

When I was a young boy growing up California both in the Los Angeles valley and later in the Mojave desert. I was terrified of crickets and their larger cousins, grasshoppers. They would swarm by the thousands and jump mindlessly EVERYWHERE! I was also afraid of spiders. It would creep me out to see 10 crickets trapped in a single spider’s web. The fat, well fed spider dashing all about wrapping crickets in silk. That spider had it right. Crickets are prolific breeders and consume a wider variety of food scraps. Recently I fed them pumpkin innards and they ate everything away leaving gleaming pumpkin seeds (I learned that from watching the TV show “Bones”) And side benefit; the chickens, ducks, and fish love them. They also dry, store, and bake easily.

Chickens exploring the new terrarium abode of the crickets. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Recently I committed to be a #FutureFood Experience Partner with the PAST Foundation for the 11/2/2019 Fundraiser, #STEMofSpirits. I needed 1,000 additional crickets quickly. I have 800 on hand at any given moment at Mezzacello, but I needed more. So I ordered them off of Amazon and put them in a glass terrarium under a heat lamp until I am ready to process them (if that peaks your interest let me know) I underestimated the impact this glass enclosure would have on the poor chickens and ducks who have never experienced glass. Eventually I had to move the crickets into the greenhouse because those silly birds kept thunk, thunk, thunk – pecking at the glass for a tasty cricket. Part of being a good farmer is knowing how to gently introduce a new ecosystem into an existing ecosystem. What I have learned is that greed, hunger, and hope are far stronger than memory, reason or learning. I have more empathy for my sweet, stupid birds now. Also, I really like the glass terrarium model over the black plastic box model. It is so much easier to sanitize and process crickets in glass than plastic. Hit me up for some great cricket-based recipes. See you at #STEMofSpirits! https://www.pastfoundation.org/stem-of-spirits/

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