One thing about agriculture – you should never utter the phrase, “I’ve heard it all now.” About the time you say something like that a new, mind blowing concept comes along that drives home the point you haven’t even begun to hear it all. Just in the last few weeks I have exposed to three new concepts all related to agriculture – eating crickets, total autonomous farming and lab grown ‘cultured meat.’ All are taking place in this region of the world.
Lab grown meat – Some industry spokesmen are saying that within the next year we will see cultured meat on the grocery shelves. This will be made from an animal’s muscle and fat cells and grown in a lab – not from a slaughtered animal. Now this has been in the works for a few years now, but with commercialization coming closer, the recent North Dakota Stockmen’s Association decided, at their recent annual convention, to adopt a policy to prevent deceptive labeling of this product.
They point to the dairy industry that has been saddled with such things as almond milk lining the shelves of the dairy section in the grocery store, even though they are in no way a dairy product. They claim that is deceptive labeling, and it is. The more important issue to me is do we really need to start growing our meat in a petri dish in some lab?
How about some roasted crickets? – As long as we are exploring different foods, I recently received a news release that announced a national SCORE winner. It is a recently started business in Montana – Cowboy Cricket Farms. Kathleen and James Rolin from Belgrade are being honored as an Outstanding Military Owned Small Business for being a leader in edible insects in the U.S.
To check out the Cowboy Cricket website has some interesting facts:
- Crickets are 20 percent more efficient as a protein source than cattle.
- Crickets require 2,060 times less water than cattle, 14 times less feed and only a fraction of the land mass cattle require.
- Crickets produce 80 percent less methane than cattle.
- Crickets need 6 times less feed than cattle, 4 times less than sheep and 2 times less than hogs.
- A cricket is 69 percent protein by body weight.
An assortment of cricket products are available ranging from cricket powder to whole roasted crickets to the popular chocolate chirp cookies. They even market the waste products from the crickets, called frass.
The SCORE program is a part of the Small Business Administration that is made up of thousands of volunteers who serve as counselors, advisors and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
Who is driving that tractor? – Finally, speaking of the Small Business Administration, a group in Fargo has applied to the SBA for a grant to launch the first 100 percent autonomous farm and they hope to have this accomplished by 2025.
The group, known as Emerging Prairie, hopes to have a piece of land that is totally farmed autonomously. Many different factors and entities will have to be pulled together to make this venture successful, that the group is committed to making this a reality just as some of the other pioneer names, such as Melroe and Steiger have done in the past.
Who knows? In less than a decade the typical farmer may sit-down on his deck to a noon lunch of a cultured beef sandwich and top off the meal with a chocolate chirp cookie or two as he watches his autonomous tractor planting corn on a nearby field.
“Now I have heard it all!”