This transcript accompanies Cricket Farming: A New Frontier for Protein Powder? 49:57
It was generated via AI services. We apologize for errors.
crickets, people, eat, farm, feed, bins, grow, insects, eggs, thought, barn, good, questions, world, dublin, pounds, iowa, food safety plan, basketball, market
Janice Person (Grounded by the Farm host) & Shelby Smith
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm00:02
Food is more than just what’s on our plate. It’s the places where it’s grown. It’s the people who grow it and so much more. Join me, Janice Person, your host on grounded by the farm every other week as we talk about the foods we love. Today, I’m drove out into the wild, wonderful world of Iowa. And this week is a good place to be because the Iowa Hawkeyes, which is not where you went to school. But Go girl basketball. That was pretty awesome to watch it. So I’m here to see a farmer in Iowa. And this is not one of those farms that a lot of people have said, Ooh, when are you going to a cricket farm? I don’t think people think of cricket farms at all. But Shelby Smith is sitting here and she just grin and she showed me through the farm. And so we’re going to talk all kinds of things about crickets. And the first thing I probably need to help people get past maybe the ick factor. You get a lot of the ick factor. Right?
Shelby Smith 01:04
I for sure. Get plenty of ick factor.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm01:07
Yeah. So eating bugs is not something that a lot of Americans do.
Shelby Smith 01:11
But they do. They’re just swimming bugs. So that’s one of those things. I always tell people if you’re allergic to Cretaceous shellfish, you do not need to be trying crickets, because you might have an allergic reaction. They are that closely related.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm01:25
Girl you like skipping ahead? Food Allergy section? I love it. No, but um, but here’s the thing, like, I can remember trying crickets probably eight or 10 years ago, you and I were both in Austin. And we didn’t see each other while we were there for South by Southwest. But one of the first times I went to Austin for South by at one of the receptions they had crickets next. And then a year or so later, a few months later, I don’t know. I was at Google for some things. And they had cricket snacks. And I will say I preferred the ones that were ground and used in flour for chocolate chip cookies.
Shelby Smith 02:02
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm02:06
Right. But um, how did you like out of all the things you could do? Shelby, you’re an athlete who loves being active? You have great degrees in finance. Right? Yep. How did you decide? Cricket farming?
Shelby Smith 02:25
Are you trying to say that I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a cricket farmer like, well,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm02:29
I didn’t see the linear path. You’re getting. Your dad has corn, soybeans or something wheat,
Shelby Smith 02:38
corn and soybeans? Yeah, yep. No, I. So we are, you know, sitting in the shop that I grew up in. This is where I learned how to shoot a basketball and do all of those things. There used to be a balcony out there that the the basket was attached to. And my dad and I would have fierce games of horse and I couldn’t beat him and talk and about fifth grade. And then he could never beat me again. So when we have a there’s a you know, he’s got a pit where everything drains into and for whatever reason. We called it the dreaded lid shot, because he could hit that every time and for some reason, it would go in there, it would go away. No, I mean, it wouldn’t go in the he’d make basket and inevitably I’d get a ladder because he was just in my head. But so this is where all that started. But outside of that I really wanted nothing to do with agriculture. I wanted nothing to do with the state of Iowa. I was very adamant in high school that I was leaving on a jet plane and never coming back again. And luckily, you know, I got pretty good at basketball and earned a full scholarship to play at St. Joseph’s University out in Philadelphia, Atlantic 10 conference. We made the NCAA Tournament my senior year. We got beat, but first round,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm03:48
there’s a lot of schools that even get in the tourney is a big deal.
Shelby Smith 03:52
Yes, it was. But so like I said, luckily that was the path I ended up on. And my undergraduate degree is in finance. And then after I graduated from St. Joe’s, I went overseas and played in Ireland with a program called sport changes life. So it is a three part program. It was part service. So we coached in underprivileged areas in Dublin poor education. So I got my master’s degree paid for, again, by basketball at an Irish University. I have a master’s in finance from Trinity College in Dublin. And then we got to continue playing. So I played in the Premier League there in Ireland, really rekindled my love for basketball, if you will, because after college, I was definitely burned an hour and a half. Yeah, and I and it was one of those where I knew that the playing was going to be part of the program and it almost made me say I didn’t want to do it. Because, you know, it was to that point. Thankfully, you know, I went through with it and went over to Ireland. And so I graduated from Trinity College in Dublin early 2014 Where when exams were done, and then we were supposed to spend the summer writing our thesis to then graduate in November which I did all of that but I also got a job at the same time. So I wound up as a, a risk management intern and a brand new trading desk for a Canadian bank in Dublin. And when I walked in there, I was the seventh employee. And there were about, you know, $30 million and trades on the books, which seems like a lot to your eye, but like it’s tiny in terms of actual trading numbers.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm05:21
And then because it’s not like it’s your money.
Shelby Smith 05:25
Yes, exactly. But so seven, employee risk management intern, three months later, I had five interns of my own another three months, they moved me into a trading role as my junior trading Junior trader for that Canadian may give. So I stayed there for about three and a half years before I figured out you know, finance, not really my thing. That’s really not my thing. I didn’t really have a plan of what I was going to do after but I handed in my notice and said, Well, I’ll just
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm05:50
move back to the time. Yeah, I’ll
Shelby Smith 05:53
move back to the farm. I’ll move back to my parents basement that I set up, you know, the state I was never coming back to, to come help my dad, you know, figure out what you want to do. Yes. But I suppose the piece that I skipped over is I did nothing to help growing up, like
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm06:09
absolutely, yeah. Basketball, you could get out on that. Yes.
Shelby Smith 06:11
And that was always you know, my parents were very good about like, your job is school and sports. Like, if you are not interested in this, and my dad always tells a story of when I was young, you know, my mom would bring me to ride in the tractor. And 10 minutes later, he’d be calling me like, come get her because I’d be just climbing up frickin walls. I was so bored. Just like I just I did not take to it. I have an older brother that like he took to it like a duck to water. Yeah. And he was you know,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm06:36
loved time and the tractor could be there all day without Yeah,
Shelby Smith 06:40
there is a relatively infamous story of my brother being somewhere between five and eight years old, driving down the road with field cultivator behind the tractor and the sheriff looking at him knowing he couldn’t do anything about it. But just, you know, I just my brother, just barely tall enough to reach clutch. But you know, that was what he did. And that made sense. And he loved doing it, but I just did not. So. Yeah, so for me coming back to do the whole corn and soybean thing. Yeah, well, we’ll see what happens and, and I survived. I spilled a lot of corn and learned some things, shall we say? But when I got back, it was October 1. So it was the beginning of harvest or everybody’s busy. There’s always something to be done. Yes. And so hopped off the plane, literally 26 hours with layovers and everything of flying, traveling all the things. It’s dark outside, because it’s like eight o’clock in the fall. And my dad goes, alright, let’s go move corn. And I’m like, great. I don’t know how to drive the tractor. I don’t know how to do any of these things go bunny. Trial by Fire. So I learned how to drive the tractor that night, unload corn, all the all those things the next day. He’s like, Alright, you’re getting in the grain cart, which for those of you who don’t know what a grain cart is, it’s what goes along next to the Combine while we’re there harvesting, and you’re supposed to catch essentially all of the green.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm08:02
Leslie has been on our show before and she is a quintessential Green Card girl. Yeah, she she loves the mockery of the fact that if you don’t know all the signs that other people are using, you are going to be messed up all day.
Shelby Smith 08:17
We have two way radios. So if you know you find out you get screamed. So there’s there’s no hand signals or anything, there’s yelling, which is fine. So I went through all of that survived it. And we got all the equipment cleaned up and in the shed for the winter. And then you know, my dad and I started having conversations. He was like, What do you want to do? Like, do you want me to teach you this? I absolutely can. You’ll get the hang of it. You know, it might take a couple of years. But we’ll get you there. You can do this. And that’s fine. Or if you want to figure something else out. Go for it. We’ll help you get started. Yeah,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm08:53
this is a research Yeah, look into things. Just whatever. I figure out a path. Yes, I
Shelby Smith 08:59
think at the time they probably
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm09:01
went fishing came up somehow. corn and soybeans is not like a cricket adjacent crop,
Shelby Smith 09:11
not even close. Not even close. Well, and that’s where I think in their mind, they maybe had like grass fed beef or like sugar beets or you know, something that’s
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm09:21
winegrapes Iain like
Shelby Smith 09:23
something. But, you know, to their credit, I the way it came up for me is I do listen to a lot of podcasts. And so the podcast back in 2017, it was the month of December and eating bugs which entomophagy came up on like three different podcasts. I think at the time, you know, I was listening to Tim Ferriss and he was advertising for a company and then you had it was some fitness podcast I was listening to they had a partnership with Thrive Market and I believe like Terps chips were on that at the time as you’re eating those. And so that was where it came up and got on my radar. And then all I remember is it being real really, really cold, New Year’s Day of 2018? Like negative 17. I just remember being downstairs next to the fireplace being
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm10:09
like, this is insane.
Shelby Smith 10:11
Yes. What was I thinking? And I don’t even know why I Google searched it or what I actually Google search. But an article from the Des Moines Register from 2015 popped out about a woman raising crickets for human consumption in Keystone, Iowa, which is about 45 minutes east of where we sit. And I was like, Oh, this is interesting. And so I sent an email. So both my parents were sitting upstairs and was like, Hey, look at this. And they were both like, well, we’ve seen weirder things happen, like, go, you know, go do some research and see what you come up with.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm10:46
So your parents bought your first crickets? No,
Shelby Smith 10:48
they did not. No, they did not. They supplied the location for me to raise my first crickets. And my mother’s kitchen is where I made my first Cricut product. So my parents definitely love me. But the room that we’re sitting in, which is the break room of my dad’s shop, which this room happens to be double insulated, yeah, for noise purposes, because the idea was, you know, you can come in here and take a call. It also happens to be a bunker for some reason, and you don’t get any cell service in here. So tornadoes and stuff like that are sure something like I don’t know that I’d want to be in here and a tornado probably be walking mosey on over to the house and down into the basement personally, but But yeah, so this was just set up for you know, temperature control, that kind of thing. So this is where my first 10,000 Crickets I bought them 10 days after I sent them the article, because that was the research quote, unquote, that I could find like it, there was none. It just it wasn’t out there. There were not a lot of resources. My best resource for the basics of growing crickets were reptile owners that were feeding them to their Bearded Dragons, things like that they had their own colonies that they had to maintain because they’re expensive. And so they gave me the basics. And I just was like, well, I’ll just buy 10,000 We’ll see what happens. And then the rest is really kind of history.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm12:08
Okay, so. So I’ve watched so many of your Instagram videos and stuff like this. So going deeper is really fun for me, because it’s like, I get bits and pieces of it. So it does all connect you’re you’re the same story on all the things it’s like, we’re talking for 30 minutes, so we get to really understand how you did some of these things. So do your parents eat crickets? Do they like crickets? Did they at the time? Think I’m not eating crickets?
Shelby Smith 12:36
So my dad’s always been like dallied it like whatever he just he he’ll just grab it he’ll try it but so he grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa he’s one of 10 kids like
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm12:47
and he’s eaten anything he’s gotten his hands on at some point yes
Shelby Smith 12:50
anything and everything and you know all the like all the awful like my grandma would make that like Tang liver you know all the organ meats and all of it Yeah, nothing went to waste especially when your friggin 10 mouths to feed and seven of those 10 are boys like you know at some Yeah, you are literally going to eat any and everything so he he has a relatively speaking as diverse of a palette as you can have as a Northeast Iowa farm boy. He’s not necessarily fearful of trying writings. So he’s always been on board with like grabbing a whole cricket doesn’t mind would try it no big deal. My mom will hesitant on the whole cricket thing. But she’s also I made a cow tongue in the in the crock pot the other day to make tongue tacos. And she was like, oh, yeah, well, but then so then I like shredded it up. And she tried it. She was like, Oh, this is really good. I was like, you just don’t like visual and I get that. Yeah, so
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm13:48
some people that smell some people it’s texture. Sometimes it’s visual. Yeah. People have aversions to various things for various reasons. Yes.
Shelby Smith 13:56
And not all of them are logical, shall we say? Right? Yes. So he they’ve always been okay with it and anytime so sometimes when I’m harvesting crickets, I will hold the few back because they’re really good, fresh sauteed and it’s just a very different flavor and texture from my dry roasted crickets the way I would describe it. And this is not my analogy. I stole it from someone else who eats a lot insects is It’s bananas to banana chips. Okay, exact same ingredient exact same thing. Very different flavor. Very different texture. Yeah, so similar in that way. Sauteed crickets I say or Meteor. Then roasted crickets.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm14:32
Because when you dry roast, it’s all crunchy at a certain point. Yes.
Shelby Smith 14:37
The the texture I would say outweighs the flavor. Yeah. With roasted crickets for sure. Whereas, like said the fresh sauteed crickets they’re they’re just surprisingly little meaty snacks.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm14:48
Well, if you go to st markets in Asia and stuff, you can eat things like Flash fried scorpions, so there’s definitely things that may be more averse to. Yes, but it does. doesn’t make people kind of go. I’m not sure, right? Like if it makes people think twice. Do we think it’s really a building market? Because to me, it’s so strange. I’ve had this conversation going on in parts of my world for a long time. But introducing it to like a lot of my family. Crickets don’t come up as a menu item they don’t know even how to buy them or why you would want to buy them or something. So where are we on that bell curve or something?
Shelby Smith 15:31
Yeah, we are definitely not in the hockey stick portion. Yeah, in my opinion. I think we I tell people think of crickets and or just edible insects as the whole umbrella as sushi in the 80s. Like it was happening in the trendy spots in New York and things like that. But it was not Seattle. It’s been big in San Francisco. Yes, for a long time. Yeah. But now, here’s sitting here in 2023. You know, 40 years later, I can drive?
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm16:01
I said sushi and Anthony and stuff. So yeah, exactly. That’s Anthony is a town in Iowa. For people who may not
Shelby Smith 16:07
notice it’s about 20 minutes out here. So yes. And that’s that’s always my point. I’m always like, I have bought in the
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm16:13
80s 90s. I would have never eaten sushi in the middle of the country. No,
Shelby Smith 16:19
you wouldn’t. And like you can get it as like a grab and go at our grocery stores and some of our gas stations and things like that, like, so if you start thinking of it in that context,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm16:28
maybe decades before, it’s common for people to think of Yes,
Shelby Smith 16:33
crickets. Yes. And then I also think about, like, success in this market is no, you’re not going to get everyone to eat insects. So what like, that’s not the goal. And my goal is also not to replace it or take away any other meat source any other major protein source, like eat, what works for you works for your body works for your beliefs, like do that. Do whatever makes you happy there. Yeah. Again, I’m not not here to take away anything from any non proselytizing. No, not at all. Well, it varies like, completely. Alright, whatever. More for me then. So. So I think success in this market looks like you know, capturing 10% of the the shellfish or the seafood market. Okay, that’s where you start to make real inroads and you know, there’s, it’s a foods a really complex one where it is a combination of, you know, taste price, all of the things that go into it. There’s a lot of things that are just in flux or in their infancy. Yeah, shall we say in the edible insect market?
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm17:33
Okay, so I have to ask this one just because one summer, I had a nephew living with me and protein powders took over my kitchen. And some of the protein powders like you had to have with peanut butter because the taste of the protein powder was so not what he wanted. Right? So a protein powder is a big thing for crickets. Right. So a friend in St. Louis has oatmeal, with its mighty cricket is the name of the company. Yes. All right. So, so protein powder is one area, is that something you’re doing?
Shelby Smith 18:08
So I do 100% Cricket powder. I really want nothing with to do with the supplement. Okay, good. I think you start getting into some of that. You’re just really early, you’re so far from price parity that then your your education curve becomes huge. Yeah. And so for me, like I have three different product lines. I have my whole roasted crickets, I have my cricket bars, which have the cricket powder in them. And then I have the 100% Cricket powder. People can use the powder and whatever they want. I tell people think of the the 100% Cricket powder as a high protein flax meal. You can mix it in anything you want, but you’re never going to take a spoonful of it, throw it in your mouth and be like that was delicious. I should do that again. Like in chess, it needs to be paired with something and that’s okay. You know, there’s things that we eat that you know, we do that flex flaxmeal great example. So I don’t really want anything to do with that market. yet. I’m not saying like exclusively I don’t Yeah, saying I think there’s no opportunity right now you’re in a different space. Right now.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm19:09
I’m just in a different space and likes and you’re already sold out from last year. Yes. Yep. So
Shelby Smith 19:14
6% of my overall sales are made up of my whole my cricket powder. Yeah, that’s some of my best recurring revenue, like with subscriptions and things like that. So there is a place for it for sure. And it’s not something I will ever drop off of. But in terms of coming out with like a flavored protein powder, I have no desire, no desire, part of that I don’t want to do I don’t want to do or deal with the food engineering that goes into it. And I think it just kind of gets away from my values of minimally processed sort of things. And then I think from an economic perspective to make it like per serving comparable to any of your like, you’re never going to be comparable to way like that’s a byproduct of an already existing industry that they’re just
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm19:55
Yeah, it’s a byproduct. Yeah, you make it useful and you find a way Oh, wow, what does this offer? And
Shelby Smith 20:01
yes, and so understanding that and at the same time understanding there is an opportunity with, you know, two thirds of the world being lactose intolerant to a certain extent. Exactly. There are other opportunities for a protein powder. People want that convenience. Sure, yeah. But so again, as you start to look at alternatives there, you still can’t compete on price whatsoever, unless you’re cutting it with some other sort of protein. That for me, again, that just doesn’t. That’s not the way I want to go. yet. I have enough on my plate as
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm20:32
it is, I can’t eat well, early enough in the market. Yeah, that you can kind of pick and choose for now. And you can always grow and develop into some of those other segments later.
Shelby Smith 20:42
Right? Exactly, or, or the alternative it is like, I am vertically integrated. So that gives me a lot more ability to pivot into so if somebody wants to source the crickets for me to put it in their cricket powder that are into their game. Great. Do it. I just don’t want anything to do with it. Yeah, I guess it’s perhaps more of it.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm21:01
I love it. So there’s so many bunny trails, I could go down. Obviously, you and I could both talk all day, this is gonna be a bad problem for me later, trying to hit the you know, 30 minutes or something. So when you think about the product, so I saw the video you shared of some kids trying some product that your I think their grandmother bought? Yeah. And they were adorable kids eat and little crunchy crickets. It made me think of my nephew eating low crunchy fish. Do you think it’s going to be more like Gen Alpha Gen Z? Is it just going to be the boomers aren’t gonna have anything to do with it?
Shelby Smith 21:41
So interestingly, I mean, the grandma that bought them, like that was a boomer yo that. So it’s it is, I get that question a lot of like, do you focus on the younger age? And I say yes and no. Whether a good thing or a bad thing. I am my own marketing department, and I everybody associates Jiminy Cricket. It’s like, oh, it’s Shelby. And so I, as I think about scaling, and doing things like that, I’m like, ooh, Am I doing something wrong on this, and I’m in my, you know, making a problem for myself further down the road where I can’t divorce myself from this. It’s fine. I’ll figure it out. But um, so when I think about who my target market is my target market are moms that are 25 to 40. With kids that are 12. And under, okay, if grandma gets on board, great. Yeah. But so when I first set out doing this, though, what, what I thought was going to be my target market was 1835 year old males that do outdoor adventures things. Yeah. It is not. It’s like three to one women to men, all ages. Yeah, that will try crickets the first time, have some theories about that one of them. Typically, traditionally, women are the gatekeepers of nutrition of the household, and generally are responsible for majority of the household spending. So therefore, like, we are more likely to be adventurous and try new things before we are going to put it in front of our family. So that is my target market. But like my oldest customer ever was 101 year old Pacific World War Two vet that told me because I was like, wow, you know, I get a lot of people that are like, you can’t get older generations to try these. I’m like, I know you can. You just need to talk to him a little bit. And I said, Thank you. No, thank you, for sure. Thanks for buying the season. Well, I ate a lot worse in service, ma’am. And I was like, Thanks. I appreciate exactly
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm23:34
a ringing endorsement you want to put on Instagram but
Shelby Smith 23:38
but it’s but a funny story all the same? It is. So I do I really I have had a set of twins that were two years old that their parents would stop every weekend at the farmers market because they had to come get their crickets. And before they left my booth, they were eating they had to open them. And they would put them in their hand. they’d eat them and they’d say, more bug. Like that is what they would say. Yeah. And then I have all the way up. Like I said, I have I have later generation boomers, I’m like, Yeah, I love putting your your powder in my smoothie. Like, it makes me feel good. And so if you ask me my target market, that’s what it is.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm24:13
But in other people just find you occasionally. Yeah. And
Shelby Smith 24:17
that but I think that’s with anything, you know, it’s in when I when I first started this back in in 2018. So 2018 2019 You know, pre pandemic, which feels like an entirely different world now. I was averaging one speaking engagement a week, whether it be a podcast, whether it be a radio interview, whether you’re speaking to a Kiwanis Club, you know a rotary club, anyone that would be like
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm24:40
I saw some funny video of you talking to one of those kinds of groups. Yes,
Shelby Smith 24:45
but so that was my main, my main marketing and you want to talk about you know, like, generally speaking and older generation that I was getting in front of, but and I always every single presentation from the
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm24:55
seven love to see somebody young doing something. Yes.
Shelby Smith 24:59
And so that That is that was what I realized early on that the longer I could talk to people, and again, not like proselytizing at all I was, you know, I asked the question in my presentation, how many of you have ever eaten an insect before? You know, on purpose? Yes, on purpose is always the qualifier, I guess, is on purpose. And, you know, inevitably you’ll get like one or two hands, depending on the room that you’re sitting in. And then I always follow that up with, how many of you are completely grossed out by the thought of eating insects, and I’m like, don’t lie, there’s at least one of you. And you know, somebody sheepishly, ill will raise their hand and then somebody else will do it, too. By the end of those presentations, I like a 95% success rate of people trying their first cricket. So it one way or another, it enables some
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm25:44
growth there, it’s really, so it’s kind of that idea of in their head is so much worse than actually doing it. Right. And I think that’s what TV shows, like Fear Factor really tried to create for people is that if you build it up in your head, you’re never going to try new things. And, you know, like my nieces and nephews, we’re always trying new stuff, right. Like, we love new things. Yes,
Shelby Smith 26:13
it will. And it’s that and and, you know, some people will say that is a barrier to entry to the industry, if you will, is that you know, you have that initial ick factor, you have that really emotional response. But I found that that is actually the easier Avenue in to have the conversation, because you’re so taking someone out of their comfort zone, comfort zone, just with the thought of existing that they’re like, wait, I have so many questions. And the longer they sit there and talk to you, the more they’re like, Okay, maybe, and then they see somebody else do it. They’re like, well, they were fine.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm26:45
So then somebody puts them in chocolate chip cookies. Yes. Yes, exactly. So I can put protein and a chocolate chip cookies basically health food at that point. It is it is. So tell me when we looked through the farm, and we’ll show a video of that, so people can look at it on the website. But tell me what are like the are their food safety concerns. You mentioned allergies, so if you’re allergic to shellfish, yep. And no skeletons are not your friend. Yes. Don’t try these either. Or at least make sure you’re trying very safely so you can get whatever assistance you need.
Shelby Smith 27:18
Yes, I Yes. But you know, that’s one thing. I had no idea of the diversity of shellfish allergies. Yeah, that there are in the world. Some people are allergic to only seawater, shellfish has something to do with the iodine. Some are allergic to all of them. Like I
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm27:36
so what are the other things that you have to watch out for? So like? I mean, are there fungi that grow up in cricket world? Or, you know, like, what keeps what what keeps you like, whoo, I hope that never happens to me, and I’m making big efforts to stay away from that.
Shelby Smith 27:53
I hope I don’t and you’re heard in my orchestra. It is an orchestra.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm27:59
Cricket isn’t really an orchestra orchestra. Yes, Nikki, that’s for you. Because I know you love all the different names of groups of things.
Shelby Smith 28:07
That wouldn’t make sense though, and it’s, it’s a great they Yes, they do. And it’s only to males that Turpin only when they’re ready to breed but you will learn that in the farm video. So yeah, I think from a food safety perspective, you know, we treat it like any other food so once it’s harvested, that is where it enters into your your food safety plan. But for me, like I take a step back from that even and I worry about feed source and I worry about the water source because those are the two main inputs. So the water gets tested to make sure that it’s up to EPA drinking standards and then the feed we have from a trusted source that is you know, so you control the controllables on that and then but once it it’s like any other raw agricultural product once it starts it’s moving towards the market Yes, it’s journey along with there’s multiple different kill steps like I said, I have a full FISMA compliant food safety plan that I had to go through and become a preventative control qualified individual to be able to write that and do all of those things. So but again, for me, it’s great because so literal farrow to finish if you are familiar with hog farms, farrow to finish sort of operation in the Cricket World I’m doing all of that and I own that entire supply chain so I’m very confident in my process if you will, so our main kill step is our cooking like that is that’s what takes care of any and everything what I’m concerned with on the raising the cricket side a power outage when it’s cold that would yeah certain death like that one I during the winter and right now you
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm29:40
know we are down NATO season stuff like that just makes you crazy.
Shelby Smith 29:44
Yes, that’s what we’re in right now. That’s what we like, last week we had some really big storms come through and I’m just like, gay the generators in the shop, leave and make sure gas Isn’t it like we’re putting it on the truck now like it’s just so things like that really concerned me You know, you have some disease risk, but if you are not bringing in outside crickets, you’re that’s relatively low as long as again, you’re
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm30:08
say you’re not taking the crickets that I like harvest on my way to your farm.
Shelby Smith 30:12
Yeah, no, generally speaking, I, and it’s if someone’s been to another cricket farm recently, like, I won’t let you in my farm, but the amount of people I can’t let in my farm is very small. So and generally speaking, don’t want to come. So it’s fine. Um, but so that there’s that slight biosecurity risk, if you will. The other thing that I think people probably don’t think about is the farm is set up to be conducive to insects growing well, yeah, so that means that like, you don’t really get to choose which insects decide that it’s a nice place to be. Spiders are a little bit of a problem and a concern. We have these little Dermestid beetles that like we just need to keep under control our best way of doing that though, like it’s all manual, you have to vacuum them or you have to smash them. There’s Yeah, you don’t have any you know, you can’t do any chemical options. There’s no like species specific pesticide that’s gonna, like only get rid of my daddy long legs and my little Dermestid beetles, but leave my crickets alone. Like that doesn’t exist. So that’s a challenge. But there’s there’s ways around. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm31:17
that’s funny. I had, you know, it makes a lot of sense.
Shelby Smith 31:22
But not something you ever considered. Not?
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm31:25
Not that I’ve ever thought about because you know, all I think about is crickets getting in the house and you hear the male cricket like, Oh, yes, like Stop it against League. Yeah, until you get out of here. So, but crickets, you have them are like, we saw the eggs. Then the teeny tinies? Yeah. And then only when they’re bigger. Do they chirp?
Shelby Smith 31:47
Correct? Yep. So it’s only the males that chirp and only when they are ready to breed feeling good? Yes. So it’s called strangulation. And it is the there’s like a serrated edge underneath their wings, and they rub their wings against, and it creates the chirp. So majority of the time though my barn is very quiet, silent, if you will. And you know, that’s a question I get a lot is like, How loud is it? Because everybody thinks of that one in their garage or their basement they can’t find and drives them nuts, because
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm32:16
that one seems so dang loud. It does. It does.
Shelby Smith 32:19
And you know, it’s just he’s lonely. He’s looking for friend, which is fine. I appreciate that fact. But the other question I get from people is like, do you not get really annoyed in there when it’s chirping? And but everybody thinks of the one. That’s the white noise then. Exactly. So it’s funny that you say white noise. So I actually have a 15 minute and an 11 hour and 59 minute video on my YouTube channel of the chirping because there’s like an ASMR. World
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm32:50
out. So gonna have to find that late. Yes, you should.
Shelby Smith 32:53
Because the like I said, I have a 15 minute one. But then I have I did an 11 hour and 59 minute live stream of the cricket farm and people sleep to it. Like, that is a thing like I in my YouTube channel has been so interesting. And so random, because I give away basically how I do everything on my YouTube channel. It’s just
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm33:15
Yeah, because who else wants to do it? Like, I mean, that’s the thing I think a lot of people need to understand about YouTube is you can learn all kinds of stuff on YouTube, but you may not want to do it. All right, well, and sharing what you’re doing is what people find interesting. And then they want to buy little roasted crickets that are hot and spicy. Like the ones I’ve got in front of me.
Shelby Smith 33:37
Yeah, well, and I don’t necessarily find that people don’t want to do it. Like my youtube channel skews heavily male which is I mean, I know YouTube skews heavily male in terms of audience anyways, but like in comparison to all my other social media it’s like heavily male, which is interesting in and of itself. But I get a lot of again, the reptile keepers the people that are just trying to feed a pet that they have and they’re like, God these crickets are too expensive with the pet store like we want to start our own colony we basic so that I get a lot of that. But again, one of the funnier and stranger ones was I had a guy that literally watched all of my videos because he was raising crickets to keep in his bedroom to sleep too. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm34:19
okay, does that become like like the crazy cat person you worry about like cuz that’s not that’s not considered clean. If you like fill your house with cats. would there not be some like questionable results of having just crickets everywhere?
Shelby Smith 34:39
I mean, you would have them contained like with you know, you can you can grow them in a habitat. It is not what I would like I would just go find my, our 11 hour and 59 minute video on let that puppy roll. The whole night
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm34:52
you do have to feed water.
Shelby Smith 34:54
They become an expensive hobby
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm34:58
and you do You like, I don’t know. Do you say you breed crickets?
Shelby Smith 35:03
I raised them. Yeah, you bred them. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm35:06
because you have eggs like you have to do something to get the egg. Yes, they, they breed themselves they collect you just collect the eggs. I collect the eggs and then incubate them. Okay, so the eggs are like pin, little tiny, tiny thin heads but smaller. And their white site they almost disappear. Well, but so the one that you popped today, yeah, that was ready to be infanticide. Via cricket. No, I’m
Shelby Smith 35:30
totally kidding. It’s just a sensation that you have to feel to understand. So those eggs are a day or two from hatching. Okay, when they were first laid, they were completely translucent. You would barely be able to
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm35:45
see them but did they lay them in one place? Like is there a typical to each female lays
Shelby Smith 35:49
five to 10 per day. Okay. I think I’m catching a lot of them. But I think she wants to go live somewhere else. She’s doing it. And I need the moisture off of the peat moss. Yes, they are. The the substrate with which they get laid in must remain moist until they hatch. Otherwise the eggs are non viable. Yeah. So as as Poppy if you will, as that egg was. Again, that’s a really permeable surface that just it’s not like being water. Yeah, it’s and it’s not like a you know, people think of eggs. They think of chicken egg with a hard exterior that like you can’t imagine it drying out if you will. It’s just not how it is with crickets, and then they they maintain their high maintenance SNESs things I’ve learned about crickets today. No, I know. I daresay you might notice little crickets this spring is they’re hatching out.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm36:40
There were little crickets everywhere. Yes. I mean, it just looks like that to dust. At some point.
Shelby Smith 36:48
Yeah, I get people. If it’s hatching time, and we have babies running around, and they’ll notice some on the floor because inevitably, they never say where they’re supposed to stay. People are like, Oh my gosh, you have ants. I’m like those are ants look a little closer. Those are little baby crickets. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm37:03
yeah. And you’re just raising them in bins, like I keep my Christmas storage.
Shelby Smith 37:08
Yes. So the current current setup is that that’s one thing. So about quarter mile south of the barn that we are at today will be cricket barn number two, and it will be a completely different growing model. So you’re gonna have to come back to check that one out. Because there will be no bins, it’ll be literal, free range crickets running around everywhere. So it’s either your nightmare or really cool.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm37:31
So I don’t know that too many people would have nightmares about crickets. Other than the sound making you crazy when you’re trying to get asleep and you expect it to be quiet or something but I mean jiminy crickets Nice.
Shelby Smith 37:44
Yeah, you would be surprised. I think people are really worried about them. Some people are absolutely terrified. They have either a sibling or a parent that like traumatized them at one point in their childhood, and they are just absolutely terrified of them. Yeah, I don’t know. Crickets are really polar have in many ways are really polarizing for people, either. They’re terrified of them, or they just think they’re completely gross. Yeah. And it’s just, it’s one of those. I think part of it is because they’re just so common. You know, everybody, there’s crickets everywhere in the fall. Yeah, so I think he’s to cricket. Yeah. They’re, they’re just such a familiar thing. And they’re, they’re across the board seen as a pest. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm38:28
we talked about what you feed them a little bit while we were in the shop in the barn. Is it a barn? What do you call that place? They call it my cricket castle. Cricket castle. When we were in the castle.
Shelby Smith 38:41
I need to come up with a good name for the second one,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm38:43
let us and potatoes and
Shelby Smith 38:45
water. Yes. And those are we only feed out the fresh produce to the baby crickets. And that is sort of a hydration measure sort of like Don’t die on me just because measure we pull out all the stops for the babies, because they tend to have the highest mortality rate, okay, any of the age, they’re just, they’re delicate. They’re a pain. So we do that, but then we feed them a non GMO grain based. It’s called an insect diet. It comes from bio forge labs, about seven miles south of here from Huxley just happens to be one of the top 10 specialty feed mills in the US and is seven miles away. Sometimes you just get lucky. But one of the in addition to it being non GMO, it has to be non GMO organic because the pesticide residues are too high and conventional. It really impacts the immune system of the crickets and you start having all sorts of problems. The other major piece that I think gets missed sometimes by people who are more hobbyist, shall we say is you need to have animal protein in there. If you do not they will start to cannibalize, they will get their complete protein one way or another and I prefer that they get it from their feed and not their friend. Yes.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm39:58
So tell me you said In the in the castle, when we were in the castle, you said that you’ve harvest maybe seven times a year and stuff. How do you like clean in between generations of crickets? Yes, like, you’ve got all ages going on in there right now. Yep.
Shelby Smith 40:16
So you got majority of them are going to be within a week of each other. So harvest and hatching and all that stuff happens within like a week to 10 days. My two racks of older crickets that you saw today I call those my insurance crickets and they are just like a few weeks behind so that if something catastrophic happens I have just some that are laying there are some Yes, some that will be laying shortly, you know, just insurance cricket is what I don’t know what else to call them. So the beautiful thing about cricket poop is it’s dry. Okay, completely dry. So it’s easy to deal with you just sweep it up. And you Yeah, yeah, sweep it up. And I put it in a big thing that my mom then puts on the
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm41:00
garden. I was gonna say, it’s got to be a flower bed gardens. Yes,
Shelby Smith 41:03
it’s fantastic for that. She needs to dump it out because it’s full, but it’s fine. That’s another conversation for another day. So you know, scooping all that stuff out. What I was having this winter is I was having a when you’re in the winter, and you perhaps don’t vacuum as much as you should you end up with more spiders and things than you want. And so what I did for the last two rounds, while it was still cold out, I stuck my bins outside, okay, use the freeze to naturally take care of the things all the nooks and crannies, because there’s a lot of nooks and crannies. And the other thing was is then that enabled me to get all the bins out of there. So then I could vacuum all those shelves and bags and luggage just make everything yes get a lot easier. We did that this last round as well. Probably we’ll do that moving forward just even as it gets warmer. Just because like I said, it just makes it easier to get in all the nooks and crannies and move things around. But outside of that, like we don’t use any chemicals to clean things because the residue leftover is going to cause you problems. Yeah. With everything remaining dry. Yeah, you’re not worried as long as and as long as your populations are healthy and you aren’t seeing any any sort of stress or anything like that. There’s no reason to do anything more drastic.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm42:25
So I have to ask, like usually on farms, we taught bushels pounds tons of ounces.
Shelby Smith 42:34
Well, so you’ll notice your roasted cricket packet. Isn’t there? Half an hour, half an ounce? Yep. So best things in life are our weight in grams, as they say,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm42:44
like tomato seed. Yeah, precious. Yes. You know, it’s,
Shelby Smith 42:47
so for us it’s pounds, I worry about pounds. And I have certain targets I like to hit per square foot like poundage per square foot kind of thing. I always told people when they start out a good place to start is point five 2.6 pounds per square foot of gross space. Okay, hit that target, then come talk to me.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm43:11
And just so we make sure everybody gets the picture. The gross space is in a bin. And inside that bin you had like egg trays kind of thing so that each cricket can have its own little space if it wants to. And when I high rises for cricket Yes,
Shelby Smith 43:26
cricket condos is what they’ve been called before. But anyways, so yeah, but I mean, I should clarify, I don’t think of the per square foot as the square footage of the class. You include like the shelving I just say the square feet like square foot of bins space. Great. So okay, I don’t know if it’s like four square feet or whatever person than you want, you know, two pounds. Plus out. Yeah. So I tell people when they’re starting out, get to that two pound mark. And then like, we can potentially optimize up to a pound or a pound and a half, just depending on your setup. So that’s the rule of thumb. We like to hit it crickets don’t grow as well in the winter. They slow down naturally circadian rhythm and also the limitation of the current cricket barn. Yeah, bring in fresh air. So that limits the population size and all that thing. Yeah, that way. They grow much better in the summer. So So were in the winter, if we’re getting over two pounds per bin. We’re doing great. Yeah. In the summer, we can get up in the five to seven pounds. So it’s pretty big difference. And so that’s where I’m excited for this new barn. You know, because the cricket Castle, I built that in the beginning of 2019. I was like less than a year injuries and crickets like retrospectively, like I had to get a bigger space like I needed more crickets all the things, but I also like didn’t really know what I needed. What was gonna work
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm44:54
well, people don’t know what they don’t know until they start doing things anyway, right? Yes, you learn a lot Once you’ve done something wrong, yeah,
Shelby Smith 45:01
for sure. And so now like jumping from so that cricket Castle is 11 by 50 for the new cricket barn is going to be 45 by 60. Okay, so it’s gonna be a significantly larger, we’re not going up like we’re not going vertical up tall, like everything will be you are not 12 foot tall. No, let’s not make a yes. And also like it, you know, like we were talking about in the barn earlier, The taller you go, the harder it is to have a uniform temperature gradient and everything else. And that’s really important.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm45:33
Yeah, yeah. And lifting high things. heavy things high.
Shelby Smith 45:37
Yeah, it’s not super. Yeah, not super great. So
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm45:42
well, I thought I was gonna ask you like a lot of questions. And we’ve just talked. But I think we’ve covered almost every one of the questions I had, which is weird, because it doesn’t usually work that way. So if people want to get in touch with you, I usually see you on Instagram. I have seen your YouTube channel and stuff. But why don’t you tell us what your username is on all the things so people can look you up quickly? And I’ll put the links in
Shelby Smith 46:09
perfect. Yeah, so I am on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, tick tock. Not on Snapchat. And every well we like is one of those people like Why aren’t you on Snapchat? I’m like, No, I gotta draw the line somewhere. And it’s gotta be at that. So you just can find me at jiminy crickets and that’s g YMN. E a T so like gym and eat, as she likes to work out? Yes, exactly. So jiminy crickets. There’s underscores and stuff in there for Instagram, but everything else it’s usually all one word on YouTube, though. You can find me under the cricket lady. Because just so everybody calls me nobody remembers my name. Everybody remembers what I do. So yeah, all of those.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm46:53
I love it. Anything else that I like, totally forgot to ask you about that. Like people go oh, my god, the cricket farmer. Because it’s funny when I told people I was coming up here to be the cricket farmer first a lot of time. Nobody had thought about farming crickets. Right. But then the other thing is, is people wanted to know live market. Or the in my family. They assumed it was food. But they had to ask the question. Yeah. And then other people were just like, oh my god, I can’t wait to hear it. While others were like, that’s not gonna be my favorite episode. Yeah,
Shelby Smith 47:27
that’s okay. For the people who think it’s not going to be their favorite episode.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm47:31
Just wait until they meet Shelby.
Shelby Smith 47:33
How do you feel now? I’m totally kidding. Yeah, no, I You cannot shock me with the things that get said to me or, you know, the questions that I get asked, I always, you know, you preface this recording with and I’m really sorry, if I ask dumb questions. I’m like, I raised crickets. Everybody’s got dumb questions. Like, I’m just everybody has the same questions. Honestly, the only people who ever stumped me with their questions, little kids,
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm48:02
little kids, because they don’t know what you’re supposed to ask.
Shelby Smith 48:06
They are the only ones in there. They’ll be like, well, how big is the head? How long are the legs? Hypothetically speaking, if you took these down to South America during winter, would they grow faster? I’m like so four H clubs are my favorite. Because they end up having a really wide array of ages. And they when they come up in tour, that’s usually when I’m like, you know, I have not thought about that.
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm48:33
I love it. Thanks so much for for doing this podcast with me because I know it’s one of those strange people that just reaches out to you and says, oop, about cricket. So I appreciate it. And I know that our friends RNA and Sarah and some folks appreciate getting crickets a little time on the microphone because it’s it’s not discussed all the time. And I think you know, like my grandmother probably didn’t eat a lot of avocados in her life. And look how much better life is now with avocados so Amen to that. Let’s just think outside the box now and
Shelby Smith 49:04
then for sure go out of your comfort zone. Why not
Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm49:07
gonna tell you I enjoy going out on the farm no matter what kind of farm it is so far. So I went to a cricket farm. Tell me where else like have you ever thought of going to a _____ farm Janice check it out. You can drop that on social media or on our website, which is also where we have the video from this. We’d love to hear from you guys. You can always drop us a line at groundedbythefarm at gmail.com. Or if you want to call and just leave a voicemail. We might feature it on a future episode. That number is 989-303-8489 Thanks so much. And we’ll be back in two weeks with another awesome episode.
Leave a Reply