BUHL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Something is chirping on Eco Balance Farms in Buhl as crickets take over the greenhouse farm, but they're not there to 'bug' the owners or cause a nuisance, Nutritionist Starla Barnes is raising them to be an edible food source.
"I was studying alternative proteins," Barnes said. "One of the proteins I used was crickets and found that it was actually very nutritious for humans as well and started looking into the edible side for human consumption."
Barnes said they're the first cricket farm in the Magic Valley, and the start-up began in November of 2018 but Barnes recognizes that eating a bug could raise an eyebrow for some people.
"It's always 'yuck...you eat those things?'" she said.
The crickets Barnes raises are Acheta domesticus, also know as the house cricket. She said they're rich with protein.
"Crickets carry all nine essential amino acids," Barnes said. "For humans they are very healthy. They have more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk."
Barnes said before starting the farm she had to find a suitable place to provide a heated source year-round.
"One of the thing that deters a lot of farms from growing crickets is that they don't have a heat-sources that are affordable year-round," she said.
Eventually the natural resources in Hagerman provided the support such as the geo thermal water for Barnes to start the farm.
She partnered with Dean Moreno who serves as the CFO of the farm and said there's a market for the cricket industry.
Once the crickets have aged out, Barnes said they freeze them and ship them out to another company to have them made into powder for a food product.
"That is then used in say breakfast foods, muffing, breads, granola. Then it goes to protein bars, it will go into drinks," she said.
Barnes expects for the farm to grow.
"Per acre of year we can grow roughly grow 12,000 ton per acre," she said.