WEST MONROE, La (KNOE) You may not realize the huge market that exists for crickets. Whether as fish bait, pet foods or even as a snack. The oldest commercial cricket farm in the U-S is in West Monroe.
“Same as any farmer going to check his crop on a day to day basis ensuring he’s giving his customer the best he can,” said Brandon Armstrong, Armstrong Cricket Farm.
Brandon Armstrong and his father Jack, are farmers.
“Each probably has 10-12,000 in each of the boxes.”
Instead of planting seeds in the ground, they plant baby crickets in egg cartons.
“There’s so much difference in the amount of water and feed used to get a pound of beef, chicken, or pork,” said Armstrong.
These tiny almost transparent little bugs go from pinheads to adults in just six weeks.
“The maximum production of crickets we can put out is 14 million crickets a week,” said Jack Armstrong.
Yes, he said 14 million a week. Jack said his grandfather started the commercial cricket industry in Glennville, Georgia in the ‘40’s. In 1954, Tal Armstrong was looking to expand his fish bait business. What better place than northeast Louisiana with its fishing hot spots.
“Traveled all the way to Dallas Texas looking for a second location and settled in on this one because there was already a good market in Monroe West Monroe,” said Armstrong.
The Armstrong’s package and ship live crickets all over the world for exotic animals. They’ve sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian. But the newest market is human consumption.
“Dry roasted covered in chocolate, they taste like a Nestle’s crunch,” said Armstrong.
"A Nestle’s crunch, really? I dry roasted these babies and then dipped them in chocolate," said Tammi Arender.
“I’ve never done this when I’m not on a riverbank somewhere," said Arender. I dip legs and all in chocolate.
"Not bad. and if you didn't know what you were eating, it does taste like a Nestle's Crunch. And they say crickets are one of the best sources of protein," said Arender.
They’re also a source of pride for Jack Armstrong.
“It’s gone from a way to help people after World War II to have convenient and easy fish bait to get and now it’s going to grow into something to help feed the world,” said Armstrong.
For more information on the Armstrong cricket farm you can go to www.armstrongcrickets.com .