Imagine this: a sustainable, high protein, gluten free, iron rich, dairy free, and soy free food that is highly nutritious.
Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Introducing: cricket flour.
Does it sound too gross to be anything you’re interested in? As a person with a general aversion to bugs, I never thought I’d say this, but don’t let the source deter you from trying it. I decided to purchase the sampler pack one day when it was on sale online.
(And, no, this post is not sponsored in any way by the company that creates cricket flour foods. I was genuinely curious!)
If your religion prohibits the consumption of shell fish or insects with shells, then this may just be an interesting new development in food sourcing and production than it is a helpful option for your daily diet. There is some debate about whether crickets are Kosher, as they have jointed legs and jump on the ground, which may make them acceptable.
You may already be eating bugs anyway, and just not know about it. Did you know that the red color in ruby red grapefruit juice is from crushed up little red bugs?
Also, as highlighted in an article in Forbes magazine, people seem comfortable eating filter creatures like oysters and mussels and eating crabs, which eat dead things on the sea floor.
Crickets, which are herbivores, seem more appealing to many than what’s going through the organs of those creatures.
So, how does it taste?
Well, I’m not a big fan of most protein bars or breakfast bars, to begin with, so I entered into this taste experiment with some hesitation. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised.
Most protein bars have a bizarre, dense texture that puts me off.
It wasn’t my first time eating crickets.
Once on a family trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, I tried pickled cricket legs when the server brought it to us and asked us to try it before telling us what it was. I had one bite, but my older sister really enjoyed them! While that particular dish had a distinct leggy/fibrous texture, these bars definitely did not. If someone had taken off the wrapper and put it in a dish with some other bars and asked me to taste them, I would have thought it was made of some of the same ingredients as a Lara Bar.
The founders of Exo Protein are pushing for the cricket flour revolution by making appealing, flavored protein bars that are quite a delight to eat.
The trick? Making the crickets into a fine flour, indistinguishable from other gluten free flours like almond flour. But because they’re using the entire bugs in the milling process, after cleaning and drying them, the flour is high in amino acids and rich in protein.
Unlike fields of grains or soy or wheat, cricket farms are very small. They also use a lot less feed and water than mammals or fish and produce about 100 times less waste and 80 times less methane than the average beef farm. To give you an idea of what kind of difference we’re talking about: one pound of pork requires about 800 gallons of water. One pound of crickets requires about 1 gallon.
Yes. Just one.
The company gets crickets from farms that raise the insects for eating, feeding them filtered water and non-GMO feed. They are currently experimenting with new ingredients in their diets to see if it affects the taste of these protein-rich creatures.
I actually enjoyed this experience, probably because I didn’t taste anything buggy and the texture and taste were quite normal and pleasant. We already have the cognitive dissonance to eat meat without thinking about the source too much.
We call cow meat beef and pig meat pork.
Most people don’t think about exactly what they’re eating, but focus on the taste and maybe the nutritional value of the dish. If we can get over the “ick factor” of eating crickets, this could be an incredibly helpful source of nutrition for people all over the world.