Okay, so you didn’t exactly relish the prospect of eating bugs when I introduced you to Ento’s avant-garde gourmet …
could be heard far and wide.
But, here I am, bringing up bugs again.
Why, MJ? Why???
Hmmm … how do I put this delicately?
Crickets are an up-and-coming cuisine (yes, that IS a cricket tostado below).
Better you should hear it from me, dear heart, than from strangers. We can work together to get our heads (appetites?) around this novel notion—I haven’t actually eaten crickets yet, either.
But my mind is open, and here’s why.
The impetus to eat insects is not merely based on curiosity or shock value. We’re talking about a much more dire motivation. As we struggle to feed this populous planet, we all know meat is incredibly costly in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact (read more on that topic here).
While you know that I am not fundamentally opposed to meat farming, I do believe that it’s difficult to accomplish it sustainably on a super-size scale.
This dilemma drives us to explore new frontiers of food and find alternative sources of protein.
So, you’re wondering, why crickets? Isn’t soy a perfectly suitable solution?
Here’s another article that addresses the soy situation and why this popular vegetable can cause problems when used to provide protein in our diets.
So, we find ourselves at the doorstep of Exo.
Unlike Ento’s sushi-esque creations, Exo is focusing on producing protein bars with cricket flour. Specifically, each bar is made up of 20 percent roasted cricket flour and 80 percent yum (dates, cacao, almond butter, and coconut).
“Most people say, ‘I can’t even taste the crickets!'” says Exo co-founder Gabi Lewis. “As if they would know what it tastes like if they could taste the crickets.”
Lewis and his partner-in-protein, Greg Sweitz, tracked down an esteemed chef in the UK who signed on to render the bars scrumptious and is also working on future recipes.
“Ultimately, we’re just creating a very healthy, sustainable, and cheap protein source. We can make shakes, bread, pancakes, or baking products. It’s a protein powder that you can use for anything,” Lewis explains.
In other parts of the world, people don’t cringe when they consider crunching on crickets.
Heck, even the actress Salma Hayek extolls the practice:
On The Late Show with David Letterman a couple of years ago, Salma introduced a few more insect favorites, saying, “These little ants fried are amazing with a little guacamole. And the worms, there are many different recipes for those. The little grasshoppers have a smoky flavor to them. It’s the way they cook them, and it’s really good.”
And, hey, Exo’s protein bars are far less … ah … leggy.
“The protein bar looks very normal. There are no insect fragments, just a finely ground power,” assures Lewis. “It’s amazing how quickly people get over that initial disgust response. The trick is getting them to try it in the first place.”
Now that you’re toying with the idea (if Salma Hayek does it, so can I!),
Oh, yeah, I mean it.
As Exo is preparing for a full-fledged launch, it is facing a challenge with cricket supply. The company is currently working with cricket farmers in the U.S. who supply reptile food for pet owners and bait for fishing outfits, but human consumption is a whole new game.
So far, there are no certified organic cricket producers out there.
Now, there’s a fabulous farmgirl niche: exo-preneur!
In the meantime, Exo is asking for your support via their Kickstarter campaign. Pledge $25, and you’ll get a half dozen bars ($40 will win you a full dozen).
As your mother used to say, “You don’t have to like it; you just have to try it.”