Joining Marcus this week on The Average Conservationist Podcast is Nick Alexander. Nick is the owner of 2% Certified CRKT Perfect Protein. What started off as a way to find a different source of protein, has led Nick to starting his own business and on a mission to educate others on the benefits of not only eating crickets, but the lack of a footprint the operation has on the landscape. This episode is filled with a ton of great insight and knowledge into Nick's business and plan for the future surrounding all the different ways one can consume cricket protein. If you're looking for a high protein, nutrient dense alternative to your normal diet, I highly suggest taking notes on this episode. Nick is on a mission to change the perception behind eating crickets and spreading the word to whoever will listen. To learn more about CRKT, check out crkt.life.
Marcus Ewing: [00:00:00] You are listening to the average Conservationist podcast brought to you in partner with 2% for conservation. 2% for conservation's. Mission is to create an alliance of businesses and individuals that ensure the future of hunting and angling by committing their time and dollars to fish and wildlife.
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Good morning everyone. Happy Wednesday. Welcome back to another episode of the Average Conservationist Podcast, and I'm your host, Marcus Shewing. Today on the podcast, I'm joined by Nick Alexander. And Nick is the owner, founder of 2% Certified Cricket Perfect Protein. And I gotta be honest, guys, this was one of the most eye-opening [00:02:00] informative podcasts that I've recorded in quite some time.
Perfect protein cricket Perfect Protein is a business out of state of New York that does what the name sounds like. They sell crickets as a source of protein. They're selling them to consume. I almost don't even know where to start by explaining this and. I'm not gonna try to allude to too much here in the intro, just because Nick does such a magnificent job of explaining the benefits behind eating crickets.
How it is basically, I don't even wanna say accepted, but it is eaten in 80% of the world. And it's just one of those things. That here in the States, it's I guess a lot of us, myself included just can't get past the fact that it's a bug. It's an insect. So the nutritional benefits the benefits on.
The environment on the [00:03:00] landscape the lack of footprint of what Nick is doing with his business is incredible. How they're feeding the crickets the waste or lack thereof, again, that, that comes from processing these crickets. It's amazing. It really is. He's, he has certainly turned me into Someone who given the opportunity, I would certainly try them.
And I don't think that prior to my conversation with Nick, that I would've been nearly as open-minded as I am now. Yeah, it's just, and you, one of the super cool things that I've talked about this in the past, is you start to hear the passion. That Nick has for it. And, it's a really interesting story how he even went down the rabbit hole of, trying to find essentially alternate sources of protein.
Outside of, the chicken, the beef, the kind of the usual suspects when we, not even beef, but just, [00:04:00] Red meat and fish those types of things. How he came across this and the research that he did leading into this going into this before starting his business, the time that it took to really have a full understanding to get approved from the FDA to be able to sell this.
It's an awesome story. It's a great conversation. Please be sure to listen to the whole thing because there's a ton of great information in here and hopefully by the time you all are done listening to this that you come away with the same conclusion that that I did and hopefully are.
A bit more receptive to the idea of eating crickets as a another source of protein. So episode 1 51 with Nick Alexander. Enjoy. However, before we get into the episode with Nick, I wanna tell you about my friends over at Stone Glacier. We are, we're knocking on the door of summer here and [00:05:00] planning for next hunting season.
Is upon us. Head over to stone glacier.com. Check out their whole list of goods from technical outerwear, base layers. A ton of obviously great packs, tents, sleep systems a bunch of different accessories. The list goes on and on. If you haven't already, also be sure to download the Stone Glacier app either on Go Goo, Jesus Petes on iTunes or Google Play.
Stay up to date with all the latest happenings from Stone Glacier. So again, check them out, stone glacier.com. Nick Alexander, welcome to the podcast. How are you this evening? Good, how are you? I'm doing well. I appreciate the time. I had reached out gosh, I guess it was late last week. And we were able to to jump on a call here within a week.
So this is exciting. Ever since Seeing the announcement and seeing you on the 2% business page. This is certainly a conversation that I'm looking forward to and I think as much as our listeners are gonna learn something, I know that I'm certainly [00:06:00] gonna learn something from this as well.
So I'm excited to talk to you.
Nick Alexander: Good good. I'm excited to,
Marcus Ewing: yeah. So Nick, tell the tell the listeners a bit about yourself.
Nick Alexander: I'm just a pretty normal guy, 52. I'm 52 years old right now, so I had a lot of health issues. Not a lot of health issues. I had a bad back, so I went to have a surgery, and when I had the surgery, I went in my back.
I ended up not being able to walk. It was in a wheelchair. Oh, wow. Messed up the surgery. So that's how the whole cricket thing got started, because I needed a better way to find protein. I want another source of protein besides the chicken and beef. So I did my research on it, and then that's where it all started.
I started, I actually, my biggest goal after the surgery was to walk again, obviously, but I wanted to go elk hunting. That's all I ever wanted to do, was just go out west and go elk hunting. So that's where I started. I wanted to get, I knew I could get my, I knew I could walk again, that wasn't a very good percentage, but I knew the nerve damage they caused would come back. [00:07:00] And it did. Don't get me wrong, I still have issues now with drop foot, toes you can't feel. But I can, I've run every day. I never miss a day. And then like I said, the biggest thing was it was for health.
I started doing the research and then I actually started growing the crickets in my basement of my house. Really? Yeah. And then once I started growing 'em in my basement, I ended up renting a church for the commercial kitchen license in our local town. So I could get, so I could actually start cooking with him so I could figure out how to make it legal for human consumption.
Not only just to eat, that took three years with, cause I'm in New York, it took three years with the state just to even consider me.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. So I had a gentleman on, oh gosh, maybe six, eight months ago. Who's in New York State as well. And he his company they make like dog chews [00:08:00] dog treats, things like that.
And the recipe that, that him and his wife had come up with to make these was they had to essentially jump through a lot of these hoops and the red tape and everything that they had to get through was crazy. Like getting all like FDA clear or Yeah, I think clear clearance probably isn't the right word, but like FDA approval.
There we go. Yeah. And all of that stuff. And I don't know, is it that New York has a state, has a lot tighter or stricter I guess laws around like food and all that type of stuff?
Nick Alexander: Yeah I think they do and in my case, I approach them with something they never even heard of. You know what I mean?
What are you, what are you talking about? You wanna feed crickets to pee, even though 80% of the world eats, so when I started the procedure, the only thing that really helped me was all my testing that I had done was through Cornell University. So Cornell Food Venture, and they're one of the best in the country.
So that, that really helped me. So all my testing and all to this day, all my testing is [00:09:00] done. I have all my, let me see my recipes, and the crickets tested four times a year.
Marcus Ewing: So when you say you have your crickets tested, I guess before we go any further, let's take a step back cuz even though I will talk about cricket the company and everything like that.
In the lead into the episode, tell the listeners what your company is, what they do. Cuz I feel like we, we may have jumped into it a little quickly here, so I wanna get people a little bit of a little bit of background so they can follow along with
Nick Alexander: us. So as far as the company there, like I, we started it, like I said, it was just me and my daughter.
We started it in my house. And then the name, my daughter's name is Delila. So the name of our company is Delila Cricket Farms. That's the whole, the big circle, and then Perfect Protein is the name of our store because in, in the town that we're at, we have to have a commercial store.
So we have to, we have to, that's just the way it was when we did the building. So the name of our [00:10:00] store is Perfect Protein and on, and C R K T is our brand. It's our logo. That's what we're, yep. Follow actually, yeah. We're not actually saying the word cricket.
That's what we came up with. And then once we, once I started growing in my basement and I actually got New York State to accept us, we started growing and then it's been two years now that we've had our facility. An actual facility besides my basement. So we re, we redid this, we busted an old gas station in our local town.
We bought it, redid it. So the back half of the building is our cricket farm, and the front half is our retail store with our commercial kitchen. Okay. Because we do all our own baking, we do all our own packaging, we do everything ourselves. Everything is done in that one facility. Even with the even the crickets, they're in the back.
So it's all underneath. Inject the cell. It's all underneath one roof. It's only 1200 square feet. All right. We do 3000 pounds of cricket [00:11:00] protein powder a year outta that little facility. Oh, wow. That's more than 20 beef cows in one year. That's crazy.
Marcus Ewing: Yep.
Nick Alexander: Crickets. We go all vertical. Okay, that makes sense.
So we don't need any land. We, just think it like this way you could buy any old billing in any city or town and turn into a farm. Excuse
Marcus Ewing: me. So I want to take a step back to the story that you were telling, or what kind of led you down this path when you were, you started researching and you were trying to come up with other sources of protein aside from, the typical things that we all think about.
Beef, chicken, like eggs, something like that. How did you land on crickets? I,
Nick Alexander: yeah, I, in, in that case there, my biggest thing was when, when you're hurt and you're down, you can't exercise. You want recovery, so what's the problem with the chicken and the beef is you're taking in a lot of [00:12:00] calories.
You're taking in tons of calories with crickets, you're not, it's. For every 10 grams of crickets, it's seven grams of protein. It's almost a pure protein. So you got that factor. Oh. And then it's only 50 calories per 10 grams. So it's, so you're,
Marcus Ewing: it's a lot more bang for, it's a lot more bang
Nick Alexander: for your buck. Yeah, exactly. It's a lot more bang for your buck. And then when you need the time and recovery and you're laying in bed, the last thing you want, you're just taking in the calories. You know what I mean? Yeah. And then, And the other thing was, what I looked into was what can you do with the powder?
Because as guys, we don't like protein powders and drinks all the time, right? This, I figured out that we can make cookies, we can make pasta, we can make pancakes, we can make, we can do everything. And it's shelf-stable. It will not go bad. So you look at those and then that was like, wow this could really take off.
And then when you realize that 80% of the world eats 'em, It's not even it's not even a thing of it. It's every day [00:13:00] and the rest,
Marcus Ewing: so walk me through the process of. I guess from the start when you're growing your own crickets and then to when you're cooking them, like what is all the, what does the process look like from the growing, like how long does that, like timeframe or period last to Yep.
Like, how are you guys cooking them? Because all I pictures like putting a bunch of crickets on a cooking sheet, right? And these things are bouncing all over or something like that. So what, and I realize it's really silly of me to say, but what does the process look like?
I'm super curious.
Nick Alexander: It's, no, it's. It's very simple once you break it down because, so check it out. A cricket is an egg. So one from an egg to a baby cricket is seven days. Okay? That's it. So you got seven days. From seven days. We're harvesting in seven weeks we're actually harvesting an adult cricket in, in nature.
They only have a 90 day lifespan as it is. They only live for 90 days. That's it. Wow. So it's one of the purest proteins on the planet, but only has a 90 day lifespan. Makes you wonder why, what? [00:14:00] Why is it put here mean? Yeah. So once it and once that is an adult and then, and the male starts making his noise with his, when he makes the cricket noise, that's the telling the female, he's ready. You know what I mean? So we put soil in there like a. Like a top square or a mulch. And when they when they do their thing, then the female goes, lays eggs, they'll lay hundreds of eggs a day. It's it'll blow your mind.
How many eggs? We get so many eggs every day from the adults. And then once we do, we pull that dish out of, they're all in totes. So we pull that dish out and give 'em a fresh dish every day that they're adults. And then you just keep
Marcus Ewing: laying eggs and laying eggs,
Nick Alexander: just keep laying eggs. And then the whole ecosystem is in, in one building.
From start to finish, you're talking seven weeks. Wow. You cannot, there's nothing that'll be it or compared to it. So say it like the apocalyptic came or something. I can increase my inventory in seven weeks. I can almost double it just [00:15:00] by saving more and more eggs. Yeah. You know what I mean? Because there's so many eggs now that it's tough.
It's tough to, it's tough to collect all of them once they start harvesting.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. Yeah. I would imagine. Yeah. Just keeping. Track of everything. Now, when you pull that dish out, how long do you have in order to like, get them to, in front of the mail where, you know, that whole process can
Nick Alexander: take place?
Yeah. Once I hear the mail, yeah. I throw the dish, I do, I throw the dish in there that day and the next day it's, it, they're on. Okay. It's that. Yeah. There's no, once that male's making it I know they're adult because they'll, shed, they have a, they shed their skin with exoskeleton seven times before they're.
Marcus Ewing: adult seven times within 90 days. Yep. They shut it. Wow.
Nick Alexander: They shut it seven times. Yep. So sometimes when you open the tote, you'll see the, then, they're getting closer to being adults. Yeah. You know what I
Marcus Ewing: mean? So we've covered that a little bit.
Walk me through the baking process. What does that look like? How [00:16:00] Yep. Yeah. Walk me through that.
Nick Alexander: Yep. Okay. So once they're adult and then we get all the eggs we can from 'em. You know what I mean? They'll start dying in themselves because like I said, they only got a 90 day lifespan. So if you don't take 'em in seven, eight weeks they're dying anyways.
They're starting to, they're starting to die out. So we take 'em, and what we do is we stick 'em in the we take 'em out of the tote, we put 'em in smaller bins, and then we just stick 'em in the freezer because in nature, when it gets cold out, they go dormant. They just, like they act all drunk and they just fall asleep like a bee or a wasp or something.
Yep. And they just don't wake up. In our place. You know what I mean? It's just, and once they're frozen, then we let 'em sit for, we go 12 hours frozen, and then we give 'em a quick, like a detox. We go like 180 degrees in water. Not quite a boil, but if you get any toxins on 'em or anything that might be on 'em.
Then they go straight to dehy dehydration. So we have four dehydrators that run constantly, we're constantly trying to keep the circle. Going. Yep. [00:17:00] And once they're dehydrated, then you then the sky's the limit. You can either keep 'em whole, so you can have the roasted crickets, which a lot of people like, or else we grind 'em into a fine powder.
Marcus Ewing: the whole cricket, just
Nick Alexander: everything. And that's the whole cricket. Okay. Because you can use the whole cricket and then you have a, Then you have one of the best protein powders on the planet. It, you treat it more like a flour than you would a protein
Marcus Ewing: powder. Okay. And then that's when you're talking about you can put it in cookies and pancakes.
Yep. And all these things. You can just mix it right into
Nick Alexander: whatever you can bake with it and everything else. We have a lot, I have a lot of women that bring bread to the store that they make. We know we've done pasta, we've done bagels. The sky's the limit what you can do with the powder.
Marcus Ewing: So I would imagine.
And Nick, go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong here, that. If you're eating 'em whole, they're gonna have a certain taste to it, just because things typically have a taste to it. Yep. But once you grind it down into a powder, I almost feel like it's gonna lose a lot of that taste. Which [00:18:00] is what allows you to essentially mix it into a lot of these other foods.
Is that right? Y yes.
Nick Alexander: It's a very user friendly. It's got like a nutty cashew smell to it when it's natural. Okay. You know what I mean? So that's why it's the other thing that you can do your smoothies or cook with it, cuz it's a very neutral flavor. You can get away, you can get away with a lot with it.
Marcus Ewing: How long did it take you? You start doing your research and you start to, put the pieces together and say to yourself, Hell, this is a really viable thing here. Like this is something that I can get my protein from. I can use it in a lot of different ways.
How long were you researching this before you finally took that plunge and decided, Hey, I'm gonna, I'm gonna see what I can do with this?
Nick Alexander: Yeah. It took almost three years with the research and like I said, the research and a procedure, the, because you have to, don't get me wrong, I made a lot of mistakes.
How long do you dehydrate 'em? How, how much, just to get the dehydration correct. Was that was like a year. You know what I mean? Yeah. Because I could never, I can't ever sell a to if it's got [00:19:00] moisture in it, that then you got mold, then you got real problems.
You know what I mean? So then it, in three years with the research and once, and then once I got to the point where, It looked like it was gonna click, and I started getting inspected by New York State. And when we started getting the procedure, all I wanted to do was make a, like a millway placement bar and like a granola, and I finally, and once I made that first product, I actually sold it to Rich Outdoors. The, his podcast. Okay. The Rich Outdoors. He was my first customer. It's a good cu good first customer. And that was, don't get me wrong, that was years ago, but not that many years ago, but, Yeah, he, I sent it, I sent, he said that it, what people really need, cuz it's a very sustainable food.
It's a very high protein, but is the world ready for bugs? And that's where you get,
Marcus Ewing: So I, I'd imagine, And we briefly talked about this before we started recording here, is that, the, one of the big things that we want to do with this [00:20:00] episode is, is raise awareness, is get the message out there and give people the facts on, on, what you can do with crickets and the protein and all the, nutritional value that comes out of it or that is associated with them.
How often, especially. You guys have your storefront, when customers come in. I guess kind of two questions is one, how many people are coming in that don't know exactly what it is that you're selling or how the crickets are being processed and all that. And then how many are coming in because they just want to try it and they wanna learn more about the product?
Nick Alexander: Yeah. We get a lot of people that never even heard of such a thing. Most,
Marcus Ewing: Stopped to get gas and they bought crickets.
Nick Alexander: Exactly. Come in there and once they see the procedure, how clean, this is like the next generation of farming, it's all in one facility where we're, and then we do have our regular customers that come in every week and get their powder or their bars, whatever.
But most people are, they've never heard of it. And then if he just can't imagine,[00:21:00] the what you can do with it. They were just, they're just blown away by it.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. Like I said, when we first kicked this thing off, I was super just curious about it because it, it's certainly something that I don't know a ton about or hell, I don't know anything about it.
So that's why you may be thinking to yourself, what the, why is he asking me this? These are silly questions, but, I just genuinely don't know or genuinely don't know. So if a consumer, customer, whatever is going to, consume a. Do you sell 'em?
Like just whole crickets that people can buy? We do sell.
Nick Alexander: We do sell roasted. Okay. So that, that's dehydrated. We do sell roasted, but we do it in flavors though, have, okay, that was my question. We have a jalapeno garlic and we got a barbecue, and we sell 'em in bags.
Each chick to sell, each bag has three servings in. But if you were to sit down and eat that whole bag of chips, it's like a little lunch bag chip. You know what I mean? Like the kids throwing it. Yeah. It's a small yep. It's 60 grams of protein in that bag. Oh, wow. It's just a pound [00:22:00] for pound.
You can't beat a cricket for the protein. Just imagine. Just imagine the difference and that's what
Marcus Ewing: hundred 50 calories.
Nick Alexander: Yeah, it's a hundred calories per well. Yes, it's a, so if you ate the whole bag, it'd be 300 calories at 60 grams of protein. You can't even, you can't eat a steak for that, no.
Marcus Ewing: Pardon me, wonders if there's a lot of people out there, especially I think of like professional athletes, like maybe endurance athletes, think athletes, things like that. That, want to try to stay lean, but also, they're doing a ton of training, so they need to make sure that they're keeping their protein level high or their protein intake very high, and they're actually likely using crickets as a source of protein just because of the nutritional value that you just mentioned.
Nick Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. You're starting to get more and more of 'em every day. I was just out to Minnesota and did an outdoor show out there. A lot of mountain bikers are using it because it. Just think of this, even like in the, my goal is always to hit like the hunting world and the outdoor world because [00:23:00] it's lightweight, right?
I can give you all the protein you want. Very, with the lightweight. So that was always we're starting to pick up a lot of mountain bikers now and then you see a lot more endurance racers getting into it now. So it's, the biggest thing is I just don't think, like you, they don't know.
Yeah. That's the biggest thing is they just don't know.
Marcus Ewing: What are people's first reaction? If it, I do. You guys have I walk into your store and say, Hey Nick, how you doing? And you are giving me the rundown on everything. And I say, all right, I gotta try this. Do you have a cricket that someone can just try like a sample type thing for customers that come in that are
Nick Alexander: I always in this bus?
You have to, yeah. You'll never try it. Yeah. So when, as soon as you come in the store. I'll start feeding you all kinds of stuff. You can try the granola, you can try the, our protein bars. You can try our chocolate chip cookie. You can try our roasted, I don't at our place because it is such, we don't hide anything.
I can show you. I show you inside my [00:24:00] farm, we have a big window. So you can see inside the farm, you can see the kitchen. Everything is wide open because I do not want the customer to feel like we're trying to hide anything. It's a hard enough sell as it is. So I don't want, I want the customer to feel, that they're, that we're trying to take care of 'em in the best way and they're getting one of the highest proteins on the planet.
Marcus Ewing: What are the reactions for the first time they try it?
Nick Alexander: Oh, I've never had a, I've never had a bad one. Once they've tried it. You get the faces and you get the looks before they even try it. Sure. You know what I mean? Sure. Everybody's got the, oh, it's a cricket, but then when you show 'em it's not a cricket, it's actually a powder.
It's no different than a whey protein or a rice protein. They look the same. It's just a powder. And once people realize that, they get the cricket outta their head, and then we realize, oh, you can make smoothies, you can make cookies, you can, you know what I mean? Then they're like, Oh, wow. You know what I mean?
Because the other thing is ours is unrefined. Ours is pure cricket powder. It's all, it's in it, it's not like the whe or the [00:25:00] rice or any of that. It's not Ours is straight up 70% protein by volume. And once people see that, that's huge. That really sells. That really sells them. So you can always get your protein, no, no matter what.
There's no excuse. You can put it in your yogurt or you can make a cookie with it. You know what I mean? We're selling, we sell chocolate chip cookies. They got 10 grams of protein in it with one gram of sugar for the bag. So if your kid sits in front of the TV all night, he's getting protein with no sugar.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. Your kid's gonna wake up in the morning jacked.
Nick Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. It's the same thing with the roaster. Like you said, you, if you treat 'em like chips, we sell, we have these kids that come in before football and they're eating 'em like chips, which is awesome. Yeah. You know what I mean?
Marcus Ewing: It's huge.
And I think the fact that gosh, you just mentioned it. There's there's no like additives, like there's nothing No, yeah. There's nothing added to it. It's just when you put it in like a cookie or granola or anything like that Does it alter the flavor of it at all?
Or is it No, it's just like a, it's just like [00:26:00] regular
Nick Alexander: chocolate chip cookie. You would never, that's the other thing you would, you'll never taste the actual cricket powder in any of the, in any of our recipes. Not that you know what powder tastes like, you know what I'm saying? But you would know there would be. No, there's not. Nope. That's not our goal at all. And we can even, when we can even manipulate it a little bit too, we can even put more protein in it. You know what I mean? You wouldn't, yeah. Because it is so user friendly. It's, we have a lot of cancer patients because after, once they start on the chemo, the first thing they need is protein.
Yeah. Their appetites are probably way down as well. Oh man. Exactly. So they're putting their yogurt, they're making smoothies, they're enjoying, yeah. So that's a big thing too. It's just in the medical department where we can make a huge difference. Yeah.
Marcus Ewing: So you mentioned earlier on that you have to have I believe it was.
The crickets and the powder itself both certified four times a year. Is that right? Yep. Yep. Wh what are they, what exactly are they certifying when you
Nick Alexander: set 'em off? The biggest thing is, [00:27:00] the biggest thing is because we guarantee it. Ours is shelf stable is the moisture. Okay. Moistures content in the powder for sure.
Then we have a recipes tested, we, because we, like on our bar or our granola, you mean. It's more than just our product, so we want it, it's more than just a cricket powder, so we want everything tested that way too. So that's shelf stable. So it, and then, because we are the first and only ones in New York state that actually raise them and sell 'em in the same facility, we're the only ones.
So that's why I wanted to set the standard pretty high.
Marcus Ewing: Know what I mean? Yeah. Absolutely. If you're gonna be the first one, you might as well come out of the gate swinging and make it real hard
Nick Alexander: for, if you're gonna compete with me, you gotta have everything tested. Exactly. Exactly. And then that's the other thing is, you know how the supplement company is, those guys, they don't have to go through the hoops that a little guy like I do.
Okay. Mine, that's what's crazy.
Marcus Ewing: It is wild. And that is wild to think about. Now, are there. Are there other guy for, for lack of a better way to put it like [00:28:00] other cricket farmers out there who are doing something similar to you, maybe in other states or,
Nick Alexander: There's other farms.
Okay. Mo nobody, most of 'em you'll see other stores that sell cricket, but they're outsourcing their crickets. Okay. They're getting 'em from Canada, they're getting 'em from overseas, and that's upsetting too because Canada right now has built a Mazda facility.
So they're gonna, is there gonna be room for I think it's, most of theirs though, is going for animal food though, not for human consumption. Okay. Because that's a whole nother an that's a whole nother, that's a whole nother s subject. Just imagine that much protein for you and me.
Just imagine if you supplemented a racehorse with it or that's a scoop. That's that soy or corn or alfalfa just can't give it. You know what I mean? You could supplement anybody. Even right down to your rabbit, you can supplement the, you know what I mean? It's huge.
Marcus Ewing: So you said you opened your storefront, was it two years ago?
Nick Alexander: [00:29:00] Yep. Yeah, the actual story. Yep.
Marcus Ewing: How have you seen like the trajectory. Of, of sales and just I guess the, spreading the word about that in the two years. And I guess, where do you see it in five years? And is there anything different that you can do with the crickets or from a processing standpoint?
Is it putting it in different foods? Is it just making it more readily available? What does that kind of look like for you?
Nick Alexander: I think I think ever since we've been, for the two years we've been increasing. The thing is the awareness is getting there. You start seeing more and more articles about it, you start seeing it on the news.
So it's coming. It's a very slow process cuz I, I, one of the biggest things, it is change is hard. Change is hard for people. You know what I mean? Yeah. But I just think you're gonna see it in five, six years. This is the next generation of farming, whether we like it or not.
We're vertical farming, and that's the thing is our goal. It was always max nutrition or minimal footprint [00:30:00] that we need to eliminate the factory farming. You need to leave that rancher and you need to leave that dairy farmer alone. We don't, they're doing the right, they're doing it the right way.
You know what I mean? The grazing the factory farming's. Gotta just imagine if you supplemented the factory farming with crickets. And let the rancher grow the grass fed meat. You know what I mean? Let the dairy farm, you can make such a huge cause. There's nothing we can't make that you can make with the beef or the chicken.
You know what I mean? You can do all of it. The difference you can make and then save the land. Oh my God. That's why you're bringing in the conversa, con conservation. Just a, there's no diesel of ation. We don't need any land and we're using 1% water compared to any other. Protein source on the planet.
Yeah, 1% water. That's
Marcus Ewing: when if you were to extrapolate that out, through, let's say dozens of other farms or things like that it's amazing the lack of an impact that you have on the land and things like that. And [00:31:00] it's, it's really very eye-opening with, you just look at the one shop that, that you guys have and what you're able to produce out of that.
And, it was already a building that was already there, so it's not like you bought a piece of vacant land and, and developed it and built a storefront and had to do all this work, every, the work was, or I guess the quote unquote damage was already done.
To the land if that's what you want to call it. The building's been there for a long time. Yeah. So it, it was already there. You're just repurposing it and doing some good out, or, getting some good out of it.
Nick Alexander: Yeah. And just imagine what you could do. Just imagine what you could do in these cities with all these old buildings.
Marcus Ewing: Sorry, I had to flip on my light in my office here. When I, when we started recording, it was still light enough outside. And then as we're recording here and the sun's starting to go down, I'm like, man, Nick's not gonna be able to see my face here for, oh, no, no worries. About another five minutes here. I'm gonna just be a silhouette on the [00:32:00] screen.
Nick Alexander: The only thing that I really have a problem with is you, I don't know if you've seen 'em, but you see some like YouTube channels where, You see the, they look like ranchers that are complaining about, the government wants us to eat bugs. You know what I mean?
They're forcing us. That's not what we're trying to do. I'm not, I don't want that rancher to stay cause I like a steak just like anybody else. You know what I mean? I wish. That's what I, that's what I really want to get crossed. I'm not here to hurt those guys. I'm here to protect them.
Yeah. And when we can make a huge difference, we don't need all those great big fields with corn and soy. The, I want those guys that I really wish that message would get out there that I'm not after those guys at all. I'm here to protect them, yeah, absolutely.
Marcus Ewing: So do you think this is, or there's there's a place like I think of some of these, more high end kind of specialty, if you want to call that, like grocery stores, like your Whole Foods and things like that.
Do you think there's a time where, you know, like selling like cricket protein powder [00:33:00] or even just, roasted crickets like that is something that is gonna be available or that, you may be able to, get your product into these stores in the future. Yeah,
Nick Alexander: for sure. That, that's their goal.
That is our go to get in the stores, get on the shelves. When you go through there and you're buying all-purpose flour, you're grabbing the cricket powder. You gotta remember, it's not been that long where lobster was, we were feeding lobsters or prisoners. Yeah. You know what I mean?
It's not been that many years where we thought lobster was evil. It's just a matter once it, and especially with the food industry. Foods get I really think that you're gonna see it in stores, right now. We had a couple offers, but the thing is, if it was in stores, you'd only buy it to try it.
You know what I mean? Unless I'm here to explain it to you. It's not a good seller. It's sitting on the shelf. Yeah. You know what I mean? It's not there yet.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. And that's,
Nick Alexander: The world's, the world's not ready
Marcus Ewing: for it yet. Yeah. And I think that's a good approach.
You can't, yep. You can't force it out there if the education piece isn't behind it and [00:34:00] getting that message out there and. Letting people know the benefits of it. The lack of a footprint that is created with, with farming and with the, the cooking and roasting process and dehydration process that, all that.
Excuse me. Is very straightforward and it's low impact. I think that's once that message starts to spread and it becomes a lot more common knowledge for shoppers, for folks. Yep. I think, yeah that's the time when you get it out there, to the masses and you make it available you're, it becomes more readily available I guess.
Nick Alexander: And that's the thing is we ne I never try, you can't force this one. Yeah. You have to. You know what I mean? But the biggest thing is they need to know the benefits that crickets. All the way through not just health but conservation too. People don't realize that they got more protein than beef and chicken.
It's got more, it's got more B12 and salmon. It's got more calcium than milk. It's got more potassium than banana and a cricket. [00:35:00] It's got more iron and spinach. Really y Yeah. And we're using 1% water. You know what I mean? You know what I mean? It's just a, it's insane.
Marcus Ewing: We've gotta be, the US has gotta be that, like 20% of the world that just hasn't accepted it yet.
Nick Alexander: just, that just hasn't accepted yet. We've even sent some of our product to Vietnam because the company over there called because they just fry 'em. They've never, they just stir fry 'em. They've never seen anybody with the protein bars and the granola and the chocolate chip cookies.
You know what I mean? They, so think about that. They're just used to. Throw 'em in the stir fry. Yeah. And eat 'em. And then eat 'em. And over here we're bacon with them and they're, they think that we're being different,
Marcus Ewing: I think that's the American in us, right? Okay, how can we make this presentable to the masses?
Yeah. So we put 'em in granola bars, we put 'em in cookies, and we make it as a powder so you can put it in, in your shakes and things like that. I think, yeah, like That's certainly the right route to go as it pertains for sure to the US and our [00:36:00] eating habits in general. I think, yeah, that that's a really good approach.
You've touched on it a few times here, but like the conservation piece of it, talk about that. The lack of footprint the vertical growing and farming. How did you first learn about 2% for conservation?
Nick Alexander: The 2% conservation was basically was like Rich rich podcast, and I actually found it through Go Hunt.
Okay. I'm a huge fan of Go Hunt because, so once I, cause I, I actually saw it on their website. Yeah. I just think the world at Go Hunt, I think they got a great group of guys, dude, they got their shit toge, they got their stuff together, it's all right. You can say that.
Don't worry, and that's, and then once I out, my, my goal is always conservation. Cuz once we, once you figure out that we, I don't need any land. I can grow these vertically. And like you said, already, structures already there. But then the other thing is the land wise is there's no greenhouse gas.
Marcus Ewing: emissions, nothing.
Nick Alexander: There's no, none of that. And is 1% 1% water. And the other part that we [00:37:00] didn't get into was what I feed 'em. Yeah. What do you feed? This is the best part. This is the best part. I'm not even using any fri, I'm not even using any fields. We're using a hydroponic farm that's down the street from us, so we're getting these crickets, get fresh greens every single day.
We use their trimmings to feed our crickets.
Marcus Ewing: In very basic terms, like you're using waste to feed them. Yep. Yep. That would typically just be
Nick Alexander: discarded like they're lettuce. Like they're lettuce, you know how they trim 'em to make 'em grow better. We take all those trimming, we take all, they give us and feed our thing, so we don't even use any, because that's the one thing I never wanted. I never wanted to be, I had a biologist tell me that if you're feeding them corn and soy, And you're trying to do all, you're just another farmer. Yeah. You're just another farmer. If you wanna make a difference in the world, use somebody else's waste and make money at it.
Marcus Ewing: man's trash is another man's treasure. Exactly.
Nick Alexander: And if you could do just imagine what you could do now. Just imagine,
Marcus Ewing: When I start [00:38:00] to, compile all this information and the fact that, you're doing the vertical growing the food actually comes from waste from a hydroponics farm.
The. The lack of imprint on the landscape the protein, just per, in, in volume the pure protein, the 70% pure protein. This is incredible. This is to me, this is really eye-opening stuff. And
Nick Alexander: I got one more for you. Give it to me. This, we sell their shit.
It's called FRAs, f r a s s. It's crap. It's the cricket poop, we sell it. We sell it now because there's actually, check this out. There's actually enzymes with the exoskeleton and the poop. It's in the bottom of the totes. It's actually got enzymes that keep bugs off your plants. So we're selling it to a greenhouse for potting soil and with all the nutrients from the exoskeleton.
It's one of the most organic [00:39:00] fertilizers you can use. It's all organic and it. It's crazy. There's no waste at all.
Marcus Ewing: I think about, like restaurants or, even like a small sandwich shop or a small bakery or something. Like the amount of waste that goes out of there just inherently, I'm not trying to rip on anyone. Yep. That's just, that's the nature of the beast, so to speak. But you guys are actually selling shit. Yeah. Two other people. Like you guys have to have one bag of garbage at the end of a week, right? You're just like, oh, trash is here.
We don't really have any trash this week, right? Exactly. Whatever we cleaned out of the totes we actually sold and the food we actually, fed it or the food we actually got from someone down the street. So we didn't have, any bags or anything like, like it's
Nick Alexander: And one more thing is too, is this I learned over experimenting.
But as far as heat, because they like it warm. In our facility, because we do, we get the totes, we have just over 200 totes. So we do, [00:40:00] like I said, 3000 pounds of powder per year. They put off enough body heat themselves. We haven't turned the heat on in over a year.
They keep their room at 75 degrees. Really They keep it, it's insane. Our water bill, our heat bill or electric bill are at the minimum, or bill, we're not even, they put off enough heat themselves that they, that those they, and that was all by accident. Cause I was running at 85, 90, dry, don't get me wrong, we still keep it very dry because they do put out such a pot of heat. They love to be on top of each other. So just imagine the heat that they put out if you had, cuz you gotta remember there's over 10,000 per tote. We got over 200 totes. So just imagine how warm that room is. It stays at 75 to 80 degrees all year round.
So you're not even using a heat. It, don't get me wrong, the billing is, Tight. You know what I mean? Yeah. The room is tight. It's all insulated. It's got the air circulation, but it stays at 75 to 80, so we're not even using any heat either. I [00:41:00] imagine if we got more north, you would, you'd have to supplement it, but you would never have to leave it on.
Marcus Ewing: I mean the cricket. The
Nick Alexander: cricket, yep. It's one of the most powerful things on the planet. And the other thing is just. Once the, what really grabbed me once, it's only got a 90 day lifespan that was like, dude, it's only got 90 days on this earth at the most, and it's it's such a powerful nutrient that makes you wonder why it was put here.
Marcus Ewing: Apparently for someone like you to go down a rabbit hole of searching for, a different source of protein, to come across it and realize all the benefits out of it now, I'm sure if you've got into a situation where, you were doing, let's say five, 10 x what you guys are putting out, which is still a ton what you guys are putting out every year, then there would be other costs, or you would maybe have to actually heat a building or, the. The food that you're feeding, you would need, five or 10 x the amount of [00:42:00] food. So it may be more difficult, but for the footprint that you have, for the lack of waste that you guys, don't produce or, produce or lack thereof, I guess is, Nick it's a this has been so eye-opening, this conversation and honestly going into this, I didn't like, I, like I said, I was super curious.
Because I knew nothing about crickets and, the nutritional value and just all the things that they provided, but like the more we've peeled back the layer of this onion it's super, super impressive. What is, what you guys have built in a short amount of time in the benefits?
For the human, for humans and for the environment in general. It's just, it's, yeah. I'm flabbergasted, yeah. Our,
Nick Alexander: With that facility, like I said, it's only 1200 square feet, but we had a goal at the beginning cuz we knew we always wanted to outgrow that building. Yeah. But our goal was, just check this out, it's 1200 square foot building.
It has everyth. You could drop that building in any community in this country and feed that community.[00:43:00] You could drop that building. Every building's got an old gas station. Ours was, and you could feed that community and it would be so simple. You know what I mean?
You've seen the pictures of these towns that are run, they got just, everybody's got an old gas station somewhere. Yeah. You could turn it into a cricket farm. Yeah. And you could feed that community. Like I said, we're putting out 3000 pounds. That's not a lot in big ice, but that's a lot for a cricket.
That's more than 20 beef cows. We have no tractors. We have no fencing. We have nothing. Yeah, we produces more protein than 20 beef cows in one year. And there's no
Marcus Ewing: waste. And there's no waste. There's no
Nick Alexander: waste. There's no waste at all. And it's self stable. I don't need a freezer. Yeah.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. And it's good forever, like you said, right?
With the additives or anything. Yeah. Nope. Yep. That's impressive. So getting back to the 2% thing from a conservation standpoint, Nick, what are some of the companies that you guys are giving back to or that you're choosing to, to work with?
Nick Alexander: Most of our, like our [00:44:00] local ones up here, like near the Adirondacks or something like that.
Okay. We just, we try to help out with the trails and stuff like that, I really wanted to come out, go out west closer to Montana and maybe spend a week doing something with one of those groups, but right now we're just staying right here in New York and trying to help out where we can, yeah. With the trails and stuff like that. Mostly near the Adirondacks, that's where our, that's where I guess you say that, that's our wilderness, I would guess you would say. You know what I mean? Yeah. We don't have the big mountains or nothing like that,
Marcus Ewing: but hey, that's all right. You take what you can get with where you're at.
Nick Alexander: Yeah. And one of my things, like over the conservation is my awareness for the conservation. We can make a huge difference with the cricket, you know what I mean? It's just, yeah. You know what I mean? You tell Hunters that. I like, listen, look at the difference we can make. We, there's no more deforestation.
You know what I mean? We don't, it, we could, it. It gets me excited cuz we could really make a difference once we, you just gotta get past that stigma. It's just a stigma we have in our brains that the cricket is, yuck. [00:45:00] Yeah.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah. It's a bug. It's a bug. It's a bug, but I'll tell you what I mean, we've been talking for 45 minutes here.
You have me convinced, right? If I were if I were, nearby, stop into the shop tomorrow and say, all right. You sold me, let me try it. I've gotta, I've gotta see for myself and someone like you, Nick, who you know has witnessed the health benefits, from a personal standpoint and who can speak firsthand to the benefits nutritionally, environmentally I think as it pertains to, even if it's just there in the state of New York, like the right man is on the job for this to, to.
Educate and to get the message out about all the benefits that come with this.
Nick Alexander: No I agree. I agree. You know what I mean? When it was, like I said, it was like six years ago, I have no idea why I kept going. I have no idea why we had the crickets in our basement, because New York State, they just laughed at me when I approached them.
You know what I mean? I don't know why we even, it was like one of those [00:46:00] things that just kept you. You know what I mean? You find that one thing, I don't know why I'm doing this. Why am I coming home every night and feeding these crickets? You know what I mean? Yeah. Is this ever going to happen?
You know what I mean? Just stick to it. You just stick to it, and you just go through all those loopholes. New York, fda, all those, it just takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of mistakes. I failed. I failed a lot. You know what I mean? When you start doing these recipes and stuff, it's not easy to come up with a chocolate chip cookie.
It's shelf stable. You know what I mean? It's not as easy what you think,
Marcus Ewing: all right, Nick, one more question before I let you get outta here and enjoy the rest of your your evening. You talked about, it was one of the first things that you mentioned when we started talking here, that.
A driving factor or a motivating factor to, to wanting to get back in shape and get outta the wheelchair and everything was to go on that elk hunt. Have you been able to, or is it in the plans in the future? Like how are you feeling? I know you said you're running every day.
Nick Alexander: Yeah. [00:47:00] Believe it or not, ever since I started, ever since I started with the cricket, I haven't improved. I've never went, once I got, obviously went from wheelchair to Walker to Kane, then once I got, you know what, and one of the other things too was I grabbed Kaman Haynes book.
Yeah. I grabbed that one and I grabbed, oh, the Navy Seal, dude. Goggins. You know what I mean? Yeah. You know what I mean? I just And ever since, once I got up on, once I got Cam's book and started reading like that, and I started running, I've actually been to Idaho. I've never got an elk, but I do all my solo hunts and I've been to Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona.
Marcus Ewing: awesome. That's awesome. Yep. I love
Nick Alexander: to hear that. And I do all also, and I ab it's not even about getting it. When you can't walk just to be out there. You know what I mean? I love, I can't get enough of it, and if that's my, and if the crickets is my conservation, then I'm gonna do it.
You know what I mean? Absolutely. That's my part. Absolutely.
Marcus Ewing: Absolutely. And [00:48:00] that's, Hey, that's all that we can ask out of anyone is just do your part. Just do your part. Big, small, whatever.
Nick Alexander: Just do your part. I'm just a little guy, but I think, but the punch, I we, we have some power right here, yeah, absolutely. I really think we do.
Marcus Ewing: Yeah, absolutely. Nick Alexander, thank you a ton for your time tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I learned a ton and I'm really excited for the listeners to to check this out cause I think it's one that they're certainly gonna enjoy. Thank you.
All right. Thank you, sir. All right. Have yourself a good night, Nick. You too. All right. All right. A big thank you again to Nick for joining me today. I hope you guys enjoyed that conversation as much as I did, and hopefully you were able to take quite a bit of information away from that.
I would also like to thank the partners of the podcast, stone Glacier Go Hunt, and of course, 2% for conservation. And if you're interested in learning more about 2% for conservation, you can visit their website. Fish and wildlife.org. And over there you're gonna see all the certified brands that have committed to conservation that you should support [00:49:00] when you shop.
I also encourage you guys to give 2% a follow on social media where it's gonna be only positive conservation driven content landing in your feed. So again, if you'd like to learn more about 2% for conservation, you can look for them online, on social media email@example.com. Thanks for joining me this week everyone.
I again, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to check out the average conservationist.com. Head over there, grab some swag, grab some gear and help support conservation in the process. So until next week, everybody, stay safe out there. And remember that conservation starts with
Nick Alexander: you.