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Wilcox School to start raising crickets for Sustainable Boost

LIHUE — Elsie Wilcox Elementary School Orincipal Corey Nakamura was not confident about eating crickets Thursday as he watched the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fourth- and fifth-grade students get excited about their new endeavor.

“I wouldn’t eat it every day,” Nakamura said. “But because of its nutritional value, I would try it.”

Natsumi Yamasato, the school’s STEM instructor, led the partnership with Sustainable Boost in the project where students will raise crickets under the guidelines of farm-to-table initiative.

The initial start-up materials, including a pair of specially created environments, materials for creating cricket habitat, and the coveted cricket eggs arrived Thursday along with Lourdes Torres of Sustainable Boost.

“This is exciting,” said STEM student Katrine Aleshia as she waited with the cartload of cricket eggs and its sustainable habitat. “We’re going to feel like proud parents.”

Torres said Yamasato approached Sustainable Boost after being fascinated with the edible insect idea.

“She’s courageous,” Torres said. “Most people need to overcome their fear of the idea of eating an insect.”

Some of the bug factoids Torres presented include 80 percent of the world’s population eats bugs, and there are about 1,800 bugs registered with the Federal Drug Administration. Some of the world’s largest cricket farms are located in Thailand and Wilcox School is the second school to start raising crickets for Sustainable Boost.

The fourth- and fifth-grade students will build the entire habitat within an environment that is sealed to prevent crickets from escaping and features a window so students can observe the crickets’ life and make observations for the data they need for their journals.

Crickets have a 60-day life span, Torres said. During this time, they grow, and at the end of 60 days, the crickets will be harvested after the females have laid their eggs. At this stage, Sustainable Boost will buy the crickets at a fair market rate. The crickets will be converted to flour to be used by consumers.

Additionally, similar to the Sustainable Boost pancake mix created by the Kauai High School students, a portion of the flour sales will be returned to the school.

“I can use it to make mochi,” said Isabella Andres, a STEM student who had already sampled the flour. “We can also use it in brownies.”

The students will also participate in field trips to the Sustainable Boost cricket farm as well as the processing facility.

“They will have field day trips to the processing center where they will get to see firsthand how we take the crickets and turn them into the final Value Added product,” Torres said. ‘Then, they will go to the farmers market and sell the product they raised. Sustainable Boost believes that this is a pretty unique opportunity at getting real-life experience with a super sustainable crop.”

At the school level, Nakamura said the class would host a recipe contest with the school’s faculty and staff being the judges.

“We used to eat bugs in Japan,” Yamasato said. “My grandmother had a really good recipe for croquettes.”

The recipes will be honed and fine-tuned in time for the school’s STEM Night, where the attendees will be able to sample the students’ handiwork.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer, and a photographer can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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