Would you care to share a serving of crickets with me?
Have you ever been taking a stroll through the great outdoors, listening to the sounds of crickets chirping away and wondered what they might taste like?
Yeah, me neither.
If you have ever seen how lizards and amphibians seem to devour them with great affection, you might have at least been curious if there was anything you could do to enjoy them too.
Or, maybe not.
Unless you are the folks at Bug Out Bars.
In most of western society, we have become averse to the consumption of crickets, or bugs of any type. Yet, in many developing countries, at least two billion people in parts of Asia and Africa consume more than 1,900 species of edible insects, with beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and crickets being the most common. In America, we have become quite spoiled to always being able to buy fresh meats and have never needed to resort to the consumption of insects. But as we can now see with many meat processing plants being shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might need to change our way of thinking. Whether from a perspective of developing or developed countries, the entire global population is in need of alternative food sources. You might consider my thoughts on this to be crazy, but did you ever expect to see such a run on toilet paper products over a virus before? Did you ever imagine that with America’s strongest economy in many decades, we would abruptly shut everything down to the point of destroying many large and small businesses? We will likely never run truly out of meat, but it is refreshing to see so many startups who are now marketing tasty and healthy meat alternatives that fulfill our nutritional needs to live healthy lives.
Why eat crickets?
From Bug Out Bar’s website:
As an early adopter of edible insects, a lot of folks will ask you, “Why eat crickets?” You may even be wondering that yourself. The short answer is that they are a sustainable and nutrient-dense food. The longer answer is below.
Crickets are packed with protein and nutrients, making it a nutritional powerhouse. You can see for yourself in the points below.
Nutrition per 100g of cricket flour:
2x the protein of beef
6x the B12 of wild salmon
More omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon
Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1, closer to an ancestral diet
Iron in similar amounts to beef
Probiotic fiber from exoskeletons which may improve gut health and reduce inflammation
All 9 essential amino acids
Perhaps the strongest argument for eating crickets is their potential as a sustainable source of protein and nutrients. Crickets require less inputs than other animal protein sources to produce an equivalent amount of nutrition. A major reason for this is the fact that crickets are cold-blooded, which means that they do not use the food they consume to generate body heat and therefore are able to use a higher proportion of their energy towards growth.
Land use could be reduced by 10x
Crickets can be farmed vertically in small containers or even skyscrapers, making them perhaps the only animal protein able to be farmed effectively in urban environments. This would allow for raising local animal protein sources near population centers and perhaps protect wild land from being converted to agricultural land.
Feed requirements could be 12x less
Because crickets are cold-blooded they do not use calories from food to generate heat. This is believed to be the reason that less feed is required to produce edible weight for crickets than for other animals (namely, mammals, who are warm-blooded).
Edible insects actually contain several nutritional benefits. They offer plenty of calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, depending on their species, metamorphic stage, and diet. Even so, the ‘yuck’ or ‘disgust’ factor is not so easily eliminated from today’s western culture. Despite the health benefits, many westerners are going to reject the concept of bug consumption. The incorporation of this “obscure” food source through the utilization of insect flours can help mitigate the repulsion many might feel. The folks at Bug Out Bars just may have accomplished this feat with their cricket flour.
AS you can see, these cricket brownie bars look appealing enough, no legs, wings or anything else weird or anything to be seen. The bit of glistening you can see on the plate would be from the healthy coconut oil that is a part of the ingredients. Don’t worry, they are not greasy despite leaving a little film on my plate.
I did not know what to expect in regards to flavor and texture when I first sank my teeth into this brownie bar. Although I was relatively sure they would taste good, I was still a little apprehensive. I have tried many other foods that were supposed to be good that turned me off entirely.
These did not turn me off in the least.
Upon biting into my brownie bar, I found the flavor to be quite similar to Little Debbie brand brownies but with a slightly different texture and no frosting.
The flavor tasted like a good fudge brownie, I found the texture to be nice and chewy despite feeling a tad bit mealy. I would say this mealiness would likely be from the cricket flour. In my opinion, these Bug Out Bars would be easy to get used to having on a regular basis but for a couple factors:
At $12.00 US for three bars, they are too expensive!
The other downside is they do contain added sugars which I do not normally eat as a rule. However, at 9 grams of fiber per bar, there is little to worry about in regards to blood sugar and insulin spikes.
While I may never buy these Bug Out Bars again, I would be interested in sampling any new flavors should they ever market any. I like the forward thinking of this company by bringing a healthy alternative food source into the American mainstream. Crickets represent an amazing opportunity as a novel food source while providing amazing nutritional density. With cricket flour readily available through internet sales, I might have to get creative and invent my high protein cricket brownie recipe that is entirely sugar free.