Product review by Giselle Whitaker
New research shows that unless we change the way we’re doing things, climate change is hurtling us towards a global food shortage. Alternative protein sources will be needed for humans and livestock to reduce land and energy use. But it’s not quite time to hit the panic button. There’s a readily available, sustainable solution at hand. It just might not be the answer you want to hear.
Bugs. Crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, ants. The list of edible insects is endless. In fact, people in 80% of the world’s countries—roughly two billion in all—already eat more than 1,400 different species of creepy-crawly as a regular part of their diet. It’s mainly the first-world countries that stick to chowing down on the likes of Daisy the cow, Wilbur the pig and Shaun the sheep. Even Thumper and Bambi make their way to the dinner table, so why shouldn’t Jiminy Cricket join in?
After living in South-East Asia for a decade, I’m used to seeing deep fried insects sold as roadside snacks and we all eat a couple of pounds of bugs a year in processed and packaged foods anyway. It’s true. The FDA in America have guidelines on just how many buggy bits can be in packaged food – Americans will be pleased to know that there’ll be less than 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grammes of peanut butter. Europe and the UK don’t seem to have such stringent rules.
In fact, many insects are extremely nutritious. Some bugs are an impressive 80% protein by weight. They can be sustainably farmed, too – the same amount of feed produces four times as many crickets by weight than beef. So in the name of sustainability, I’ve agreed to consume some of Eat Grub’s edible-insect snacks.
I’ll admit that the Eat Grub box sat on my kitchen bench for a few days before I summoned up the courage to open it. Inside was a little brown package with “eat me” written on it, and three small packages of roasted cricket snacks – salt and vinegar, English herb and chilli and lime variations.
I was pleasantly surprised when I peeled open the brown paper package to find something that looked a lot like your average muesli bar. The Eat Grub folk have been working on this one for a while. There’s a Kickstarter campaign to get the protein-packed Eat Grub Bar into production and it’s looking like they might be on supermarket shelves by the middle of next year.
My specially made bar was divided into bite-sized pieces. I tossed a piece into my mouth before I could change my mind. Then another. And another. Before I knew it, it was gone and I wanted more. It’s a tasty combination of organic dark chocolate, mango, desiccated coconut, pumpkin seeds, honey and cricket flour. I assume it’s the final ingredient that gives it the nutty edge. Whatever it is, I’d eat it again…enthusiastically. Not only is it delicious, it’s also nutritious, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free. The food of the future.
I was about to rip into the salt and vinegar crickets, when I noticed one of the critters peering at me through the clear plastic by the label. Ah. The crickets are whole. That makes it all a bit more confronting. Reinforcements were needed. Friends summoned and bravado at the ready, I poured the roasted crickets onto a saucer, where they sat in a little pile, glaring at us. Rob didn’t hesitate. He picked one up, shoved it in his mouth and chewed, all without grimacing, then gives a nod of approval. Dean and Dave followed suit, slamming them in sequence, so I had no choice.
It’s not what I expected. I thought it would be crispy and explode in a tang of vinegar. Instead it was slightly chewy with a mild salted nut aftertaste. If you can picture a boiled walnut with wings, you get the idea.
I’m not sure that I’d go for the whole crickets again – although they washed down quite well with beer and we got through the packet. I’ll be the first in line, though when the Eat Grub Bar hits the shelves and not just for the novelty factor. I’ll be there for the mango, the chocolate and those nutty little Jiminy crickets.
www.eatgrub.co.uk – Support their Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/586269537/eat-grub-bar
Tweet Giselle @Giselleinmotion