If we try to forget Swedish Food security organisation Livsmedelsverkets disastrous decision
2017 was a good year for the edible insect community. Especially when looking abroad. Charlotte Payne has in her blog Libertyruth done a good summary of some of the highlights of the year, and Florian Nock has made a great post on the Entomove Project about some of the things to look forward to 2018.
In both these blog posts the new podcast Ento Nation is featured as one of the highlights of 2017 and a thing to look forward to 2018! After just running for two months Ento Nation is a sensation, and one of a couple of unifying forces that can make entopreneurs around the world come closer to each other and learn more from each other.
After having heard the four first episodes I contacted “The Cricket Man” to learn more about the podcast and the man behind it. Its been busy times (for both the Cricket Man and Bugburger), and the email interview started about a week before Christmas.
Bugburger: First tell me a bit about yourself, your background. How did you get into the ento business, and how come you are called the Cricket man?
The Cricket Man: I started farming crickets as a way to feed our pet frogs in 2005. After a couple of months I had so many crickets that I started selling the surplus to local pet stores in the area, and I went on to do that for many years. Every time I would call a pet store or deliver crickets they would say “It’s the Cricket Man!” and the name just stuck.
I have PTSD (Post Traumatica Stress Syndrome), and shortly after I started micro farming crickets, I found it had a therapeutic effect on me. I have been farming them ever since, and I will be micro farming them for as long as I am able. It is more than just a vocation or hobby for me. It is very therapeutic. I liken cricket micro farming to advanced gardening, sort of like Orchids, or a prize-winning rose gardener, or the Japanese art of Bonsai. It takes more than just a green thumb to succeed at these, but also, a state of mind. Farming crickets is a lot more complex and difficult than you might think. It is very scientific, and you must create and maintain the perfect environment (as with all agricultural endeavors) at all times in order for the species to flourish agriculturally. Agri-Therapy is a recognized form of PTSD Treatment, and there are several organizations in the United States that help people with PTSD by putting them into farming programs. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is about Agri-Therapy that works on PTSD, or exactly how it works, but I will tell you that it definitely reduces the symptoms of PTSD.
I no longer sell crickets to the public, I stopped in order to begin the Cricket Man LLC and Ento Nation endeavors. But I still use my farm as a research and development laboratory for cricket micro farming equipment, and to run experiments on cricket farming methods.
Bugburger: About a month ago you published the first episode of the podcast Ento Nation. Could you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for the podcast?
The Cricket Man: I was sitting in my office one night this past summer, researching ways to market a project of mine. The idea of podcasting intrigued me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had always loved radio talk shows and radio dramas, mashup, and various other forms of audio art. Anyway, I fell asleep in my office chair, as I sometimes do late at night and I woke up with this idea. I knew that if I didn’t write it all down I would wake up the next day and forget it. Remembering only that I had a great idea, and that I had forgotten to write down…again. So, I wrote it all down, 12 spiral notebook pages full, went back to bed, and here we are.
Bugburger: I have listened to all the episodes and I am really impressed with the high quality of interviews, and how much info you pack into the 40-45 minutes. And the fact that you release an episode every week: How much time do you put in to the podcast? Are you a whole team doing this? And I must also ask… do you have a background as a radio host/dj?
The Cricket Man: Thank you, that’s nice of you to say. I have no background as a DJ or anything like that. I just have always loved radio. I wish I had a team on this podcast. I do everything myself. Produce, write, perform, edit, websites, social media (I have one person who helps me with Instagram because I don’t have a cell phone), otherwise, I do it all myself.
As far as the time it takes to fully produce one episode. It varies, and I am getting better at the whole process, but one episode usually takes somewhere around a collective 15 -20 hours.
Bugburger: To those reading this blog, and still haven’t tried listening to the podcast, how would you describe an episode of Ento Nation? What components do you find in each episode?
The Cricket Man: The Ento Nation podcast brings you news and events from the Ento World, interviews with industry leaders and interesting bug people, and a little ento-tainment. Entomology, entomophagy, bug farming, food technology, you name it, if it has to do with bugs, we cover it.
Each week you will probably get some news, a little drama/parody, an interview or two, and a recipe from our Cricketlicious Café segment. Plus the Cricket Man’s take on what’s happening. Hopefully one comes away with more knowledge about bugs in a given area than they had before, and are made aware of the coming population/protein crisis we will be facing in about 30 years. Also, that insect protein, from farm to table, is part of the answer to this crisis.
Bugburger: You really have a very enthusiastic tone and fill the podcast with sound effects and even your own radio-play “As the crickets chirp”: Do you think it is important to make the topic eating insects fun? And: Are you afraid that some people listening to the program might think it’s not taking the topic seriously?
The Cricket Man: I think it is important, when trying to spread an important message, to create an atmosphere of happiness and joy and yes…fun. When people are in a good mood, listening and enjoying, maybe laughing a little, they are more open to receive any message you may wish to impart. So my philosophy regarding your question is a lot like farming of any kind: Create the proper environment, then plant the seed.
No, I am not afraid of anyone not taking the topic seriously. In fact, those kinds of thoughts don’t even enter my mind. For me, the Ento Nation podcast and magazine are a vision, an idea, a creation of mine. I don’t create anything based on any outside inputs or pressures. I just have a vision, and try to bring it to pass. Now, that’s not to say I don’t adapt and evolve as the vision grows, or that I don’t understand the power of collaboration and groupthink and input and all of that. Absolutely I do. But the way that I operate, the way that I present the podcast, is based solely on my creative vision, and not on worries about what someone might think.
Bugburger: Regarding the radio play in the show… Is it your radio play, and do you do all the voices? Or do you have a cast?
The Cricket Man: Yes, it is my radio play. It is a semi-autobiographical, allegorical, metaphorical presentation.
It is my most favorite part of the podcast to write. I write it, produce it, perform all of the voices, edit it…I do everything. It is a message within a message for the show. It is not just ento-tainment filler. There is a very deep message within “As the Crickets Chirp” and “Night of the Frogs” and the other dramedy/Parodies I do. Several messages, as a matter of fact.
The only part of the podcast that isn’t written by me is the chef’s walkthrough on the Cricketlicious Café segments. Whether it is ChefPV, our resident chef, or a guest chef, they write their own recipes, and they write the café presentation. I record them reading it, then I add the music (they have a choice of 100’s of songs to pick from) and the sound effects.
Bugburger: Your focus on Ento nation seems to be North America, will there be interviews with people from other parts of the world… and are we all part of the same “ento nation”?
The Cricket Man: The Ento Nation is a State of Mind. :) It may seem that I am focusing on North America, but in reality, we’re just getting started.
I have interviewed folks from other countries as well, I just haven’t aired their interviews yet. Like Otago Locusts in New Zealand, and Flying SpArk in Israel. I also have an insect farmer in Spain lined up for an interview in the coming week, and our Christmas Special featured interviews with Farms for Orphans who farm palm weevils in Africa, and MealFlour who farm mealworms in Central America. So we’re branching out. Believe me, we want to cover the planet!
Bear in mind, the Ento Nation is on a 30 year plan, in 30 years we should be on episode 1500 or so. So far we have 9 episodes and a couple of bonus content episodes. Give it some time, we’ll get there. As I said, we’re just getting started! I will say that I want to focus more on Europe in the coming year because of how rapidly things are progressing over there, there are a lot of exciting things happening in Europe right now. 2017 was a big year for Ento Europe, and 2018 will be even bigger. We will be there to cover it.
Bugburger: So what are you planning for the future?
The Cricket Man: For our immediate future, in 2018, we will be introducing the Ento Nation Magazine online in January and will also continue to produce the podcast. The magazine will cover so much more than we can cover on the podcast. We will focus on bug-based cuisine with lots of beautiful pictures, insect farming, entomology, industry news, insect videos, photos, macro photography, if it has to do with bugs, we will cover it in the magazine. Our main categories will be: Cuisine, Photos, Entertainment, Insect Farming, and Entomology.
Bugburger: And now before my last question…
it is time for the… faaaaassst five…
(all questions taken from the podcast):
1) Baked or fried?
Fried! Chocolate Chip Cookies, however ( my favorite food) should be baked. :)
2) Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek. I like the original with Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the doomed Red Shirt guys; and I like Next Generation.
3) Bungy jump or sky diving?
Skydive. Much more freedom, and it lasts longer.
4) Steven Spielberg or David Lynch?
David Lynch. No question. He has been a huge, major influence on me artistically.
5) Cats or dogs?
Both. But my experience has been that cats pick their people more than dogs do.
Bugburger: Last question: What message would you like to spread to all the Scandinavians (and other people) reading this blog?
The Cricket Man: In 30 years we will be facing triple the population we have today. In countries where children are chronically malnourished, we are looking at a food crisis like we have never seen before. We will have three times the population to feed, but we will not have three times the protein producing resources we have now. We will actually have fewer resources in 30 years, so how will we feed a starving world that has three times as many people as we have today with ever dwindling resources? Part of the answer is supplementing the protein supply with insect protein. It is healthy for our bodies and requires far fewer resources to produce than traditional protein sources like beef, pork, and poultry. I would ask that people consider trying insect protein, not as a replacement, but just as a once a week supplement to their regular diet. We don’t expect insect protein to replace beef, pork, poultry, or seafood as primary protein sources in the Western diet, but we can supplement the supply, and become better stewards of the planet at the same time.
I envision a day where you walk into the grocery store to buy protein and you have your beef aisle, and your poultry aisle, and your pork aisle, and your seafood aisle, and your vegetarian aisle, and your…Ento Aisle! I see it clear as day.
I also see a day where little children in countries with chronic malnutrition and stunted growth no longer suffer from these maladies, and are happy and healthy because someone taught them how to farm insects. It is essential that we support organizations that feed the poor in various parts of the world, but I also believe in the old adage “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for life.”
I also want to say that you don’t have to wait for all this wonderful sustainability stuff to kick in to start making the world a better place. Just treat each person you come in contact with each day as if they are the most important person in the world at that very moment, and you are then already making the world a better place, and also spreading half the message of the Ento Nation.
Bugburger: Thank for the inteview! And thanks for making the world a better place Cricket Man!
Search for Ento nation in your podcast app. You can find the podcast website here: www.entonation.com