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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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What Chirps And Is High In Protein?

The business outlook in Van Nuys is downright chirpy these days, thanks to a new business billing itself as California’s first urban cricket farm. Last month, startup Coalo Valley Farms LLC leased 7,000 square feet of space for three years at 7646 Densmore Ave., where it will raise the noisy little critters for – you guessed it – food. Founder Elliot Mermel said the crickets will be processed into a powder and marketed to consumers, restaurants and manufacturers as a healthier and more environmentally friendly protein source than that obtained from meat and poultry. Mermel got interested in using insects for protein after coming across United Nations’ research about the impact that livestock farming has on global warming. He noted that crickets already are used as an additive in some pastries, energy bars and chips. “I went to my parents with this idea and they kind of laughed at me. But after I drafted up a business plan, they got on board,” said the 25-year-old Rhode Island native. Coalo Valley Farms is being funded with $100,000 from Mermel’s grandfather – money that otherwise would have been his inheritance. He’s also meeting with some local private investors and starting a Kickstarter campaign. Mermel said he chose to locate in the San Fernando Valley because his father lives in Los Angeles. And the climate is right: Crickets need year-round warmth to thrive. In fact, the insects will be harvested simply by lowering the temperature, he said. Mermel and his partners have cleaned and refurbished the warehouse and set up 175 bins that will house the 10,000 baby crickets they plan to raise to maturity – a process that takes six weeks. Eventually, the company plans to quadruple that figure, sourcing the insects from a variety of U.S. producers. – Karen E. Klein

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