“An open mind and an open palate” — that’s all Casey Moninghoff is asking for.
But that’s still a big ask for at least some of the customers of who meandered past his vendor booth yesterday at the 2nd Street Market in downtown Dayton.
The passersby would pause to consider the tempting plate of brownie samples that rested on the table in front of Moninghoff’s “Evolve” booth. Market-goers would inquire about the samples, and Moninghoff would explain that they are made with cricket flour — yes, flour made up of ground crickets, the insect — blended with other, more conventional ingredients, such as whole wheat flour, sugar and coconut oil.
Some recoiled at the very idea. But inevitably someone else in the group — a spouse or a friend — would be adventurous enough to try the brownie, raise an eyebrow, and confirm for his incredulous family members what Moninghoff already knew: “They’re delicious!”
And they are. They taste like, well, brownies. The cricket flour, Moninghoff says, imparts nothing more than a nuttiness to the flavor of the brownie, but offers much more beyond the flavor profile.
Let’s let Moninghoff — who, by the way, has a mechanical engineering degree from Clemson University and works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — pick up the story from there.
“My company is called ‘Evolve.’ I sell baked goods — cookies, brownies, granola bars and protein bars — that incorporate cricket flour. Insects provide an incredibly healthy, sustainable, and delicious lifestyle, and entomophagy (the human consumption of insects) is already practiced by 2 billion people worldwide.
“Cricket flour is just whole roasted crickets ground into flour. Crickets contain all essential amino acids and have twice as much protein as beef. Since the entire cricket is consumed, we are also eating plenty of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and a deep range of vitamins and minerals.
“There is no waste in consuming crickets since the whole creature is eaten. By the numbers, crickets grow 13 times faster than cattle, require 12 times less feed, and 2,000 times less water. Crickets are humane to farm and make a nutritionally accurate substitute for some of the meat in our diet.”
Moninghoff said he became interested in human consumption of edible insects about a year ago.
“My interest developed into research, and I began experimenting with different ways to eat insects. Entomophagy has been around for thousands of years and is beginning to break ground in the U.S. I want to join this sustainable and fascinating movement and encourage others to do so as well.”
The 2nd Street Market, Moninghoff said, “allows me to interact with locals in a friendly environment, and I knew I wanted to begin my company there.
“The friends I have met at the market have responded very well in the short time I have been there. I have several consistent customers, and most people are open-minded to this idea and will at least try a sample.
“That is what I encourage everyone to do, is to come with an open mind and an open palate.”
Evolve is a Sunday-only vendor at the downtown Dayton market operated by Five Rivers MetroParks — although Moninghoff has other holiday weekend commitments for this coming Sunday, July 2, and won’t be there. He will be back on July 9 with an array of cricket-flour-based baked goods for customers to sample.
For more information, check out the 2nd Street Market Facebook page.
NOTE: According to cricketflours.com, those who have a crustacean shellfish allergy may be allergic to crickets and should not consume products made from crickets.