From vegans to paleo eaters to parents of growing kids to just plain folk, everyone wants to know: How can I get more protein? Unfortunately, this insatiable demand bumps up against some unpleasant realities. Despite the welcome rise in plant-based proteins, the vast majority of Western protein consumption persists as meat—a resource-greedy source. Plant proteins, while less problematic, contend with different hurdles, such as GMOs (soy) and sourcing issues (quinoa).
Into this omnivore’s dilemma steps Chapul, the first finished consumer product made with insect protein. These delicious energy bars, which launched via Kickstarter two years ago and won a $50,000 deal on Shark Tank in March 2014, are the brainchild of Pat Crowley, a self-proclaimed “reluctant entrepreneur” who started eating bugs as a water conservation mission.
According to Crowley, it takes 100 gallons of water to produce 6 grams of beef protein; the same amount of water produces 63 grams soy protein and 71 grams cricket protein. Likewise, 2 pounds of feed yields 1 pound of insect meat; cattle require 8 pounds feed for 1 pound meat. “The math is simple,” writes Crowley. “If we shift even a small fraction of our protein consumption to environmentally friendly, healthy (and tasty!) insects, we can reduce the huge amount of water which irrigates the massive, mechanized farms that exist solely to feed cattle and pigs.”
Despite the perceived “ick” factor, we believe insect protein is on the cusp of greatness. Two billion people worldwide already eat insects, and a 2013 report by the U.N.’s agricultural arm details bugs’ health and environmental benefits, from solid nutrition to fewer greenhouse gases and livelihood opportunities for impoverished communities.
With Chapul, Crowley plans to make insect foods the next sushi, which evolved from “who would ever eat raw fish?” to a sought-after delicacy and now grocery-store staple. Even better, changing people’s minds about insects as a revolutionary protein source potentially translates into feeding the world’s soon-to-be 9 billion inhabitants while simultaneously preserving one of the planet’s most precious resources.
Of course, none of this goodwill hunting would matter if the bars didn’t taste good—but they do. Chapul currently offers three tasty flavor combos: chocolate, coffee, and cayenne; chocolate and peanut butter; and coconut-ginger-lime. Crowley is also experimenting with other flavors and insects (after all, people around the world already eat 2,000 different bug species) and he’s considering marketing Chapul’s FDA-approved cricket flour for other finished products. As Chapul’s presence expands day by day (currently available in 200 stores) and consumer attention and appreciation continues to mount, we’re saying it: This concept has legs.
Want to boost your energy with high-quality, low-fat protein? Look no further than bugs.
According to panel discussions held at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) meeting late last month in New Orleans, insects are the food of the future. Not only are they good for you, they’re a low-cost alternative to animal protein with far less impact on the environment.
And if this sounds ridiculously futuristic, think again; cricket-based protein powders are already hitting the market here in the U.S.
“Some insects are as much as 80 percent protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins,” said IFT panelist Aaron Dossey. “They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.” Insect protein is also easily digested.
And we’re going to need new sources of protein, because as time goes on there’s just not going to be enough meat to go around. Consider these startling stats:
70 million: The number of people added to the planet’s population every year
9 billion: The world population by 2050 as projected by current population growth rates
70 percent: The percentage of agricultural land devoted to livestock production
30 percent: The percentage of all the world’s land used to raise livestock
The next high protein diet fad: crickets. (Photo: wikimedia)
The next high protein diet fad: crickets. (Photo: wikimedia)
These problems could be alleviated by cultivating a taste for bugs, according to Dossey. “Insects require less feed, less water, less land, and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” he says.
And he should know: Dossey owns All Things Bugs LLC, based in Athens, Georgia, which is marketing a high-protein cricket powder for use in baking and cooking. One of the recipes touted on the company’s website? Cricket-blueberry pancakes.
More than 1400 type of bugs are edible, say dutch researchers at Wageningen University, who compiled a more than 50-page list for the 2014 International Conference on Insects to Feed the World held in May. Amongst them are grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, moths, beetles, flies, bees, ants, cicadas, katydids, weevils, stink bugs and cockroaches. Also on the list: worms and caterpillars.
Agriculture and food production departments at colleges around the country are getting into the act; the University of Georgia, Montana State University, and the University of Illinois all host programs culminating in “bug buffets.” At the University of Nebraska in Lancaster, research is underway to improve the ways bugs can be raised, captured, and processed into food products palatable to the American public.
Of course, insects have long been on the menu in many countries such as Thailand and Mexico, where they’re crunched as a snack, served in tacos, and considered a delicacy. But here in the U.S. it’s going to take some work to get past the “eww” factor.
And by the way, if you think you’d never eat a bug, think again – you already have. The red food coloring used in many food products comes from pulverized cochineal beetles.
All Things Bugs isn’t the only company getting into the insects-as-food market. In California, Bug Muscle is introducing an insect-based high-protein shake aimed at the body-building market. London-based Eat-Ento is another insect food start up working to commercialize powdered insects.
And Salt Lake City-based Chapul Cricket Bars of Salt sells energy bars made from All Things Bugs’ high-protein cricket powder. They come in flavors such as the Aztec bar, a coffee-dark chocolate-coffee concoction, the Chaco bar, a standard chocolate and peanut butter combo, and the Thai bar, which features ginger and coconut. Chapul bars are already available at select health food stores.
For the majority of us Westerners, the concept of eating creepy crawly bugs is as disgusting as it is unimaginable. Yet insects are an important dietary staple for billions of people worldwide.
“Entomophagy” – the consumption of insects as a food source, is definitely not a new phenomenon. Archaeological evidence of insect consumption can be found all over the globe, dating back tens of thousands of years.
So why insects? For one, raising them is exponentially more environmentally sustainable in comparison to the typical protein food sources of chicken, beef, pork, and others. They require very small amounts of nutrition and water to properly grow, while also needing significantly less land to be raised on. Insects also have a much greater fecundity than typical livestock; they reproduce vastly more offspring at a time with a very small reproductive cycle. Additionally insects take a small amount of time to mature, thus making them ideal for raising.
In terms of nutrition, insects are highly efficient protein sources. Many of them are also loaded with other hot nutrients, such as omega-3s, b-vitamins, and iron. The amount of usable protein from insects is also a lot greater than their conventional counterparts. Crickets, for example, have little waste in terms of processing, whereas animals like cattle have only certain parts of their body usable as food.
chapulOne company based in Salt Lake City is leading the charge for an insect revolution right here in the US. Chapul Inc. specializes in high energy bars, with their main ingredient being a flour produced from crickets. Being the audacious person I am, I decided to order Chapul’s sample pack of three different cricket bars to see exactly what this craze was all about. A little background on myself; I am a man who shrieks at his roommates to kill even the smallest of bugs. I had nothing short of anxiety when I saw the package had arrived. At last, I reasoned to myself that I probably consume plenty of insects a year unintentionally and after all, the bars were made with a flour produced from crickets, so there was no danger of crunching on legs or husks.
Since I like bitter flavors, I chose the Aztec Bar first, which was flavored with dark chocolate, coffee, and cayenne. I quickly sucked up my fear and took a large bite and to my surprise I did not die. The bitter earthy taste of this bar was actually pleasant. Next up was the Thai Bar, flavored with coconut, ginger, and lime. The piquancy here was extremely surprising, this bar had a very intense flavor unlike anything I had ever tasted and left quite an impression on me. Last, but not least in my cricket adventure was the Chaco Bar, made with chocolate and peanut butter. This bar was phenomenal and was hands down one of the best bars I have ever tasted. If I would have not of known the ingredients of this bar, I would have probably inhaled it. Crickets aside, this was easily my favorite of Chapul’s product line and if I ever eat more insect bars in the future I definitely would want them to taste like this.
All in all, eating bugs was not nearly as bad or as gross as I expected. I truly believe that entomophagy has nearly unlimited potential for the future; just imagine if we replaced even a fraction of the world’s livestock supplies with insects. The amount of food produced would increase rampantly. The only major obstacle I see marketing to Westerners is the serious revulsion we have towards insects. Yet with large organizations such as the UN encouraging more insect consumption, it is very likely that this phenomenon will be a very hot topic in the future.
I spent 30+ years at Oscar Mayer and parent company Kraft Foods. At that time, Kraft was the largest food company in the Western hemisphere and the most profitable in world. Kraft was a new products juggernaut introducing thousands of new or changed products every year. Much of my career had something to do with developing new products: either typical NPD work on a project team or improving Kraft’s global new product development process. I learned a few things about innovation during that time.
For example, even close-in or relatively minor improvements or changes to a product, a formulation change or packaging modification for example, can be difficult to commercialize without issues.
Actual new products, things Kraft hadn’t done before, like low sodium or light products, proved to be very difficult.
And creating a new category of products, like Lunchables, was extremely difficult to do and most attempts failed before ever seeing the light of day.
But starting from scratch to introduce a new product that was so new to the world that there was no ingredient supplier, no infrastructure, no production methods, no retailer to shelve the product, and a consumer mindset that was actually antagonistic toward the idea, that kind of innovation would NEVER happen. Never. Ever. Not in a million years.
But it is happening somewhere else. Not in a big food company or on a grand scale yet. Big companies almost never take that kind of risk. Instead, it’s happening in the labs and kitchens of entrepreneurs… the people who want to, and likely will, change the world.
This past week, I had the honor of moderating a scientific session at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists Conference in New Orleans. The subject: Real Pioneers: Experience with Insect Ingredient, Processing, Products, and Marketing.
Three very smart, passionate, visionary pioneers were on the panel. Dr. Aaron Dossey, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology turned entrepreneur and founder of All Things Bugs, is focused on commercializing the insect ingredient, crickets, for broad use in a number of different product forms. All Things Bugs is the only pure cricket and mealworm powder wholesaler in North America. His project has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which should keep his efforts going for the next couple of years. (The life of an entrepreneur: “Can I make it to the next milestone before running out of money?”)
Laurie Keeler, the Senior Manager for Food Product Development at the Food Processing Center for the University of Nebraska, focuses on ingredient functionality and product prototyping. She too has an entrepreneurial spirit and works tirelessly in the pilot plant creating, testing, creating some more, and working with government regulators to assure products are perfectly safe for human consumption. On top of all that and her other work too (she provides pilot plant prototyping work for companies), Laurie made this IFT Symposium happen.
But the commercialization of insect protein into the U.S. food system wouldn’t be complete without an entrepreneur that’s willing to take the idea to market. Meet Pat Crowley, founder of Chapul (from the Aztec word for ‘cricket’). Pat has a compelling vision for a new sustainable protein source for the world; one that will revolutionize the marketplace. And he’s just the guy to get it done. An adventurous outdoorsman from Salt Lake City, Pat was recently on the primetime ABC show Shark Tank where he convinced a shark, Mark Cuban, to join him in “feeding the revolution” (see below). It takes a person like Pat to step up and face the highly emotional responses of consumers and overcome the “ick” factor to convince them that crickets really can be a good, nutritious food source. So far, it’s working. Chapul bars in three flavors can now be found in numerous stores and business is profitable and expanding. You can get yours here.
Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. We use the word so loosely now that practically anything can carry the label. But it takes special people to make real innovation happen. And let’s be clear about what these three ‘real pioneers’ are doing. This is innovation. This is overcoming countless barriers and obstacles. This is passion. This is visionary. This is something NO big food company would ever do. It may take awhile. So did sushi. So did lobster. But these people are making it happen. Crickets: food for entrepreneurial champions.
The world adds about 70 million people each year to the population. If worldwide growth continues at the current rate, the population is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, adding twice the current population of China. Approximately 70 percent of agricultural land, and 30 percent of the total land on earth, is currently used to raise livestock, the world’s main source of protein.
“Insects require less feed, less water, less land, and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” said Aaron Dossey, Ph.D., founder/owner of All Things Bugs LLC, in Gainesville, Florida, a company that provides protein-rich insect powder for commercial use.
According to Florence Dunkel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Entomology at Montana State University and editor of Food Insects Newsletter, “Eighty-five insect species in the U.S. are documented as potential food sources; worldwide, there are 1,900 species.” She cites locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, silk moth pupae, and beetle and moth larvae among the top insects consumed as food, worldwide.
While insects are considered tasty and nutritious in other countries, including Thailand, Mexico and Uganda, Americans are less enthusiastic about eating bugs. “We have to overcome the ‘ick’ factor,” said Laurie Keeler, Senior Manager-Food product Development, the Food Processing Center, University of Nebraska. “It’s a cultural barrier that has to be overcome. We have spent a lot of time worried about insects getting into food; now we want to encourage eating insects as food.”
Most insects are a rich source of high-quality, highly digestible protein. “Some insects are as much as 80 percent protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins,” said Dr. Dossey. “They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.” On a dry weight basis, crickets contain as much omega-3 fatty acids as salmon.
“Western cultures’ aversion to the use of edible insects as a food source is a serious issue in human nutrition. But it’s the way forward into a sustainable world environment,” said Dr. Dunkel.
Some entrepreneurs, such as Patrick Crowley are making it happen. Crowley is the founder of Chapul Cricket Bars, the first company in the United States to use insects as source of nutrition. At Chapul, he is directly challenging the existing perceptions of insects as food by producing, marketing, and selling an energy bar, in a variety of flavors, made with high-protein cricket powder. “It’s an exciting time to be the forefront of this budding industry,” said Crowley
While in some countries, insects are harvested in the wild, such practices are typically inefficient and involve risks from environmental toxins and pathogens. Insects, such as crickets and mealworms, can be efficiently farmed in an industrial setting free from contaminants. In fact, samples from insect farms in the U.S. and Europe have been tested for contaminants that sometimes present problems in foods from animal sources, such as salmonella, listeria, E. coli, or Staphylococcus aureus, and have been found to be free of contaminants.
There are a number of challenges for quality mass production of insects that still must be overcome, but the expert panels agreed that insects as a source of food is the way of the future.
The answer to feeding the world’s growing population? Bugs, according to experts at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo.
Currently, approximately 70% of agricultural land - and 30% of total land on earth - is used to raise livestock. If we’re going to feed 9 billion-plus people in 2050, our eating habits will need to change.
“Insects require less feed, less water, less land and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” said Aaron Dossey, PhD, owner and founder of All Things Bugs, a US company that provides protein-rich insect powder for commercial use.
“Eighty-five insect species in the US are documented as potential food sources; worldwide, there are 1900 species,” said Florence Dunkel, PhD, Associate Professor of Entomology at Montana State University and editor of Food Insects Newsletter. Dr Dunkel says locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, silk moth pupae and beetle and moth larvae are among the top insects consumed as food around the world.
While insects are considered to be perfectly acceptable nosh in developing countries, most of us in developed countries aren’t too keen on the thought of eating beetles for dinner.
“Western cultures’ aversion to the use of edible insects as a food source is a serious issue in human nutrition. But it’s the way forward into a sustainable world environment,” said Dr Dunkel.
But insects are a great source of high-quality, highly digestible protein. “Some insects are as much as 80% protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins,” said Dr Dossey. “They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.”
Some companies are jumping on the insect trend to get in early. Chapul Cricket Bars, founded by Patrick Crowley, are energy bars made with high-protein cricket powder. “It’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of this budding industry,” said Crowley. Chapul is the first company in the US to use insects as a source of nutrition.
In Australia, the Edible Bug Shop sells a range of roasted and frozen, sweet and savoury edible insects.
While in some countries insects are harvested in the wild, such practices are typically inefficient and involve risks from environmental toxins and pathogens. Insects, such as crickets and mealworms, can be efficiently farmed in an industrial setting free from contaminants. In fact, samples from insect farms in the US and Europe have been tested for contaminants that sometimes present problems in foods from animal sources, such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus, and have been found to be free of contaminants.
Energy bars aren’t what they used to be. Answering the consumer call for whole-food, protein-packed nutrition, these pocket-sized snacks are packing a bigger punch than ever before, and many of them are based in nuts, seeds, ancient grains, meat—even insects.
For example, the ProBar’s Base bar is made with 20 grams of protein, and the company’s core values are a wish fulfilled: “Looking for a protein bar that resembles nature rather than a science experiment?”
Yes, we are.
Here are some other energy bars we found and tasted:
Pushing the bar boundary the farthest is the cricket flour-based Chapul, the first insect-based bar in the U.S. While crickets don’t top the American menu right now, just wait. An inclination for insects—already a protein staple in other parts of the world—is on its way. Who says that “sustainable edible” won’t work here? After all, you can’t actually see embedded crickets. They’re all ground up to powder form and masked by trendy tastes such as dark chocolate, coffee, cayenne chili, coconut, and ginger. Yum? You decide.
Pleasing Paleos are some new meat bars like the Epic bar and Omnibar. We tried a few of Omnibar’s creations and felt like existing jerky eaters could easily make the transition to these smooth-textured beef bars, as long as they kept an open mind about new savory flavors, ranging from mango curry to chipotle barbeque. (The roasted peanut or cranberry rosemary versions may make for an easier transition.) Comparatively, the Epic bar has a more stringy-chunky texture that takes some getting used to, but the bison bacon cranberry flavor—who doesn’t love bacon?—deserves props, as does the brand’s use of only grass-fed meat (bison, turkey, beef, lamb). Plus for those with nut sensitivities, these meat bars make for an awesome alternative.
Whole food Omnibar boasts two single servings in one package. Image courtesy of Omnibar
While these bars may be a bit tough on the stomach and taste buds immediately following a ride or run, the meat bars—some of which come two per pack—could be a healthy treat to savor later, right about when your appetite returns and you’re ravenous, yet still within that 90-minute recovery window when protein is key. Camping is another activity that fits nicely with the meat bar trend. There’s fire. There’s meat. It’s a cave-man thing.
Thunderbird Energetica’s focus is in on whole food, vegan-based nutrition for its energy bars. Photo courtesy of Thunderbird Energetica
While carnivores have new bar options, so do veggies. An expanding repertoire of bars based on nuts, seeds, and ancient grains are also coming of age. Gather bars are another interesting niche nutrient-dense product. Founded by endurance athletes, Thunderbird Energetica (the maker of the raw, vegan Gather), was built around making a no-bonk natural bar with ingredients you could actually pronounce and energy sources that could meet extreme energy demands. Bars mix almonds, buckwheat groats, carrots, cashews, cacao nips, dates, Goji berries, hemp seeds, maca root, and more natural powerhouses. While some are on the dry side, one may quickly overlook the texture for benefits: The palm-sized protein packets come in real-food combos touted to help with a variety physical concerns, from inflammation, to fertility, to a rocking beach bod.
So whether you go for ancient grains, major meat, or even insects, there’s probably something worth savoring in the latest evolution of power bars. Now get after it.
Do you think your customers would be interested in a sustainable source of protein with a toasty, nutty flavor that’s already enjoyed by billions of people in Latin America, Asia and Africa? What if it also were a good source of calcium and other assorted minerals, as well as fiber?
Would you feel differently if I told you I was talking about insects?
The gross-out factor among Americans when it comes to eating six-legged creatures with exoskeletons is even more palpable than it is irrational. And it seems so arbitrary. We happily eat such ten-legged scavengers (eww!) as shrimp, crab and lobster. We slurp away at raw oysters and clams. American sushi lovers have developed a growing affection for sea urchin. In fact, all of those invertebrates are delicacies. Why not beetle, or cricket, or succulent caterpillar?
One reason is that, in my experience, insects don’t taste very good. Another is that their texture is problematic. I ate tobacco hornworm, which is actually the caterpillar of the Carolina sphinx moth, about 15 years ago at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, following a lecture about eating insects. It was acrid (the caterpillar; the lecture was pretty interesting).
I ate some sort of salted roasted beetle in northeastern Thailand. It was salty and crunchy on the outside, which is fine, but it was mushy on the inside, which is not desirable.
Also, it was an insect and I’m an American, and no matter how cosmopolitan I try to be, and although I’m happy to suck out a shrimp head or the vitreous of a fish eyeball, insects are not things I want to put in my mouth.
But Americans’ aversion to consuming terrestrial arthropods might be changing. At the very least, some companies are betting that they can convince us to eat insects, and one food trend-spotting firm thinks they’re right.
Kimberly Egan, chief executive of CCD Innovation, told me that enough societal drivers are in place that insects are a trend with legs — although it’s one that’s likely to catch on more of we don’t actually see the legs.
Although Mexican restaurants on both coasts are serving cricket tacos with more frequency than they once did (I’ve tried them, they taste like whatever they’re spiced with), several small companies have started grinding crickets into flour and cooking with them. Chapul in Salt Lake City and Exo in Brooklyn, N.Y., are making protein bars out of the stuff, and Bitty in San Francisco is baking it into cookies and also selling the flour for people to cook with at home.
Bitty’s the company that describes cricket flour as tasting toasty and nutty.
Egan said the high protein content of insects is in line with current diet trends — they definitely fit into the paleo diet — as does the fact that they’re sustainable and reflect the global citizenship that many Millennials find desirable.
And they’re finding investors: Egan said Exo hit its goal of raising $20,000 on Kickstarter in three days.
“There is more and more of an openness to the eating of insects … and I think part of this is that you’re no longer seeing the insects,” she told me.
Egan said she expects insect consumption to grow gradually and in ways that remove us from the actual idea of eating them. We might see vegetables dipped in insect flour and fried or baked, for example.
“I would say that in the next three years we’ll see some movement and cultural conversation about insect flour,” she said, adding: “Some consumer are recognizing that they’re probably eating some insects in their packaged goods, anyway.”
In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged as much. The maximum allowable insect parts in food isn’t high, but it’s not zero. Tomato juice packagers can have as many as three fly eggs per ounce of juice. Raisins can have up to four fly eggs per ounce. Shelled peanut packers won’t be penalized as long as they have no more than one insect for every five pounds of peanuts, and packaged Brussels sprouts can contain up to 10 aphids per ounce.
Egan said she expects vegetarians and vegans to come around to eating them, particularly since they’re humanely killed through freezing.
My own informal poll of vegan and vegetarian friends indicated otherwise.
“Take a guess,” the vegan said (that meant no).
“They’re still living things,” one vegetarian said, not particularly interested in arguments about their nonsentience.
Egan acknowledged that we’re not likely to eat charismatic insects such as bees, butterflies and ladybugs. But crickets? Why not?
A TWITCHING mass of European house crickets clings to a maze of meshed cardboard in a tent about the size of a minivan. They are inside their new home, an abandoned warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio, where they will prosper until being killed, ground into "flour" and baked into cookies and tortilla chips.
These are the first insects in the US to be farmed for human consumption. Big Cricket Farms, the company running the warehouse, is working with insect food start-up Six Foods in Boston, who will make the cricket chips (pictured right) – which they call "chirps" – and cookies. They are among many adventurous eaters hoping to carve out a niche for a protein-rich, environmentally friendly food source that could transform the modern diet.
Laura D'Asaro and Rose Wang, who founded Six Foods, plan to get around the yuck factor with insect-based foods that don't look like the creepy-crawlies they come from. Their cricket flour is about 70 per cent protein by weight – the idea is to blend it into recipes for chips and cookies alongside the other typical ingredients. The foods come out looking and tasting like things people are already used to eating, only with a boost in nutritional value.
Six Foods isn't the first company to make a foray into insect-based foods. Other start-ups like Chapul and Exo are already making protein bars with crickets in them.
The environmental benefits are hard to ignore. A United Nations report released last year showed that farmed insects can provide dietary protein far more efficiently than most livestock. It takes 10 kilograms of feed to get a kilogram of beef, for example, but only 1.7 kilograms of feed is needed to produce a kilogram of cricket. Pound for pound, insect farming emits 1 per cent of the greenhouse gases that raising ruminants like cows and sheep does – and it requires far less water.
There is more to farming and selling edible insects than making them less icky, however. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the US National Institute of Food and Agriculture, says there are "numerous challenges, including lack of knowledge about the basic biology of many species that potentially may serve as food".
Information about the parasites and pathogens that may affect insect farms is also lacking. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it doesn't know of any relevant legislation that covers the production of insects as human food, which makes farming them a risky business.
This results in some legal quirks. "You are not allowed to slaughter your animal on the farm," says Arnold Van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and one of the authors on the UN report. "Because insects are animals they are subject to the same legislation. You need a separate slaughterhouse, which is totally crazy."
Until now, insects for human consumption in the US have been purchased from companies that breed them to be sold as pet food. But it is hard to ensure that the entire supply chain is safe for human consumption, says Kevin Bachhuber, who founded Big Cricket Farms, as it isn't subject to the same level of scrutiny as food destined for people. This means there is a lack of transparency as to what the insects are being fed. "Some of those places are feeding their insects gone-off dog food, and that's obviously not OK for human consumption," he says.
That's where Big Cricket Farms comes in. "Farming insects is risky, and we can't afford the remotest chance that our insects are contaminated with feed that's not fit for humans," he says. "I want the USDA to come inspect this place when we've been up and running for a few months and have them say, 'Yeah, this is how it should be done'."
Even a whiff of a problem, like a food-borne illness caused by eating insects, would be a disaster. "It would tank our entire newborn industry," says Bachhuber.
Sampling some of Six Foods's cricket concoctions, one could be convinced that they will catch on. The chips and the cookies taste almost normal; the hint of "bugginess" – an earthy, nutty flavour often talked about in the field of insect cuisine – is barely detectable.
Proof in the pudding
Less-processed insect meat is a different matter. Cricket sushi, for example, replaces the cool yielding flesh of raw fish with a crunch that feels very out of place. The insects sit better among the vegetables and noodles of a stir fry.
Chefs around the world are hard at work experimenting with insects to make new and appetising foods. Nordic Food Lab – a non-profit spun out from Danish restaurant Noma – began a project to make insects delicious to the Western palate in May last year. Their chefs believe that making insects tasty could spark a wave of interest in entomophagy (see "Taste test").
Nurdin Topham, now head chef at Nur in Hong Kong, was involved in the work, and noticed that the flavour of the insects changed depending on what they had been fed. "The diets that the insects were fed made quite a significant difference to the quality, taste and freshness, in the same way as shellfish or prawns," he says. "There was a definite difference."
Indeed, Tiny Farms in Berkeley, California, is already doing this. It uses a process called gut loading – in which crickets are fed certain flavoured or nutrient-rich foods just before they are killed – to rear crickets that taste like honey and apples, or that are high in vitamin C. Bachhuber says Big Cricket Farms is planning to do the same on a bigger scale once it is fully up and running. He currently feeds the crickets with organic chicken feed, but plans to eventually use food waste from around Youngstown.
Over the coming months Bachhuber expects the 5000 insects in his first Youngstown facility to breed, producing 1 million crickets every four weeks – enough to produce 113 kilograms of cricket flour. When the warehouse reaches full capacity, he expects that number to reach 700 kilograms.
Paul Rozin, who studies the psychology of disgust at the University of Pennsylvania, says new and unusual foods tend to make their way into popular culture from the top down, starting with those who can afford to dine in expensive, adventurous restaurants.
Sushi is one example of this trend. The idea of eating raw fish was largely foreign to people in the US before the 1960s, but now sushi restaurants can be found almost anywhere. "Sushi originally started with Japanese businessmen in Los Angeles. It was just a local ethnic thing for them, but then they would invite their American counterparts," says Rozin. "It's true of most unusual cuisine – people who are wealthy and adventurous do something, and then it becomes trendy."
But even if nobody ever eats crickets as anything other than Six Foods's protein flour, they still have the potential to play an important role in improving public health and the environment, says Rozin. "If Pepsico starts using cricket flour as 3 per cent of Cheetos, then you've got a major impact."
Energy bars have become a favorite go-to snack or meal replacer for many people. But many of those bars are filled with things your body might not want or need.
Avid gym goer Steven Diebold says he wanted a good energy bar to snack on, but found too many packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, soy isolate and fillers he didn't want. So he created Papa Steve's No Junk Protein Bars made with organic dates and raw nut butter.
The bars, handmade fresh locally each week, are gluten free, wheat free, soy free and GMO free. No preservatives, refined sugars or artificial ingredients. There are also dairy free and vegan options.
Coleen Kavanaugh had a similar problem. She has a child with food allergies and was also disappointed in bar offerings.
"There really was just a lot of junk out there. A lot of high carb high sugar products," said Kavanugh.
So she invented ZEGO bars -- "high-protein, low-glycemic bars that are free of all the top 8 allergens."
Her bars are made with sunflower seeds, quinoa, and brown rice syrup to help those with allergens. Her packaging also helps those with food issues.
"We put a QR code on every package so that the parents can scan the QR code and it will link them directly with the allergen test results for the exact batch of the bar that they're holding in their hand," Kavanaugh explained.
There's also WholeMe bars that use simple raw ingredients and, like Papa Steve's bars, they're in the grocer's fridge as they're preservative free.
And while this might have a bit of an ick factor, Chapul bars are made up of crickets. Yes, ground up cricket flour helps account for the 8 grams of protein per bar.
Brown rice and pea protein are now used to provide a nice carb to protein profile in products, yet Chapul went with novel yet nutritious cricket flour along with organic date paste to sweeten.
Chapul, and was first-to-market with cricket food. Chapul’s raw-diet friendly protein bars are dense, moist and nutty. Choose from three versions: dark chocolate, coffee and cayenne; peanut butter and chocolate; or coconut, ginger and lime. They’re releasing a matcha tea bar this spring and are considering selling their FDA-approved cricket flour to competitors.
Chapul is available online and in 200 stores internationally. Last week, Crowley won a $50,000 investment from entrepreneur Mark Cuban with his national television debut on ABC’s Shark Tank, so don’t be surprised if you find Chapul backordered.
What’s next? Crowley is experimenting with other insects. More than 2,000 species are eaten around the world, he says, so that’s like saying, “What plants are we going to eat next?”
Other cricket-based grub options: San Francisco-based Bitty Foods offers chocolate chip cookies and packages of the cricket flour itself. NYC-based EXO was founded by two Brown University grads who worked with a Michelin-starred chef to perfect their protein bars.
Utah cricket bars on Friday’s episode of ‘Shark Tank’
By Kathy Stephenson
| The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Mar 18 2014 10:48 am • Last Updated Mar 18 2014 04:34 pm
Friday’s episode of "Shark Tank" will feature Pat Crowley, the owner of Chapul Bars, a Utah company that makes high-protein bars out of cricket flour.
On the reality television series, which airs on ABC/Ch. 4 at 8 p.m., aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of potential investors, including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and Lori Greiner, the "Queen of QVC."
Chapul Bars — taken from the name for cricket or grasshopper in Aztec — come in three flavors: dark chocolate and coffee, peanut butter and chocolate and a Thai coconut ginger lime. They sell for about $3 each and are available in Utah and surrounding states.
Last week, at the Natural Products Expo in California,Chapul Bars won the "Nexty" nomination for innovation in food and was voted one of the "Top 4 Brands not to miss," Crowley said.
"We are working around the clock in the kitchen to get ready," he told customers in a company email. "But we still anticipate running behind on our stock after the air date, so get your Chapul bars now before the rush!"
I had the opportunity to spend last weekend feeding gourmet cricket bars to 67,000 people at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. The cricket bars are made by a company called Chapul, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently, Chapul is the only company in the US that has a cricket-based food product on the shelves. Pat Crowley, the owner of Chapul, just happens to be my first cousin. He invited me to spend the weekend with him at the Natural Products Expo to help get the word out about his company and the health and environmental benefits of eating insects.
As a company, Chapul, which was the Aztec word for cricket, has earned a lot of recent attention. Crowley pitched his idea to the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank. The episode is set to air in less than two weeks, on March 21. The host of the Natural Products Expo, New Hope Media, nominated Chapul for an award that honors the most innovative new exhibitors each year. The award recipient will be announced at next year’s expo, and all nominees will receive preferred placement for their booth in 2015.
So, why eat insects? According to Chapul’s website, “Insects are an extremely healthy, delicious, and sustainable form of protein. Humans have evolved eating insects, and even today, 80% of countries around the world have them on the menu in some form.” Humans have actually evolved with specific enzymes that digest insects, in particular their exoskeletons, which are made of chitin.
The many health benefits of the chitin included in Chapul bars are discussed in an article on DaresProducts.com. “Chitin will not only help you lose weight but it also is going to help you control and lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and alleviate stomach and bowel ulcers, indigestion and constipation.” Another major health benefit of eating insects is their high levels of complete proteins and amino acids present in crickets.
There are also positive environmental impacts that come from eating cricket bars. As their website points out, “Chapul was inspired by the need for a more water-efficient food supply. The majority of global water use is dedicated to agriculture, often very inefficiently.” According to Chapul’s website, a water input of 100 gallons only produces 6 grams of protein from beef, while the same amount of water produces 71 grams of protein from crickets.
Another benefit of including the cricket and other insects in our diets is that it diversifies our protein supply. Pat told me, “We’re not trying to tell people to stop eating beef, chicken, or any of their other favorite protein sources. We’re just trying to diversify our food supply and lower our environmental impact so that we can adapt as a species to issues like climate change, drought, and human over population.”
The process for making Chapul Cricket Bars is fairly simple. The crickets are grown on a farm in the US specifically for human consumption. The crickets are then frozen. The cold temperatures put the insects into a kind of coma so that they die as humanely and painlessly as possible. Next, the crickets are dried in an oven. Finally, they are ground into a very fine powder, referred to as cricket flour, and included in the gourmet energy bars with other ingredients.
Chapul cricket bars come in three flavors and include all natural whole ingredients. Each flavor is inspired by a different region of the world that already eats insects. The North American-inspired bar is peanut butter and chocolate. The coconut, ginger, and lime bar is inspired by Thailand. A bar inspired by Meso-America includes coffee, dark chocolate, and cayenne pepper. All three bars use an organic date paste as a base, raw organic honey as a sweetener, and cricket flour as the main source of protein.
The first bug Daniella Martin can remember crunching down on was a chapulin (aka a toasted, chile-spiced grasshopper) in Oaxaca, Mexico.
"It tasted like a burnt potato chip," she says. "It wasn't love at first bite, I'll say that much."
Fast-forward eight years, and she has downed hornet larva in Japan, launched a bug-cooking show and written Edible: An Adventure Into the World of Eating Insects.
And she enjoys whipping up hakuna frittata, made with mushroom, egg and moth larvae; spider rolls made of tempura-fried tarantula with cucumber and avocado; and Bee-LTs, made with sautéed bee larvae.
"Bugalicious," she says.
You could say she's on the up and up when it comes to bug-based cuisine.
But most Americans are not.
Still, you might be surprised to find that dozens of places around the nation are serving up creepy crawlers, from creative food carts to insect-devoted museums to high-end eateries. There are even festivals focusing on the consumption of insects, known as entomophagy.
In fact, more than 33,000 people attended BugFest in Raleigh, N.C., in September. And when the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans hosted its annual Hoppy Thanksgiving event, more than 1,300 people showed up. (The menu included turkey with cornbread and mealworm stuffing, wax worm cranberry sauce and cricket pumpkin pie.) Even more remarkable is that in a busy week, the insectarium goes through 10,000 bugs.
"The list of restaurants serving insects or arthropods of one sort or another is going up, and has been for the last two years or so," says Zack Lemann, manager of visitor programs at the insectarium. "Those of us engaged in entomophagy are hoping that this will be like sushi. Forty years ago, you would've looked at someone like they were crazy if they suggested opening a restaurant serving raw fish, but now it seems you can't walk a city block without coming across a sushi place."
Could insects be next?
For Monica Martinez, owner of Don Bugito, a street cart in San Francisco, it's a no-brainer. The artist and chef from Mexico City, where people have been feasting on buggy cuisine since the Aztec Empire, became fascinated with sustainable food when she moved to San Francisco.
So she launched the food cart in 2011 to introduce Bay Area folks to unusual dishes such as wax moth larvae taquitos ($8); chocolate-covered salted crickets ($5); and toffee mealworms over vanilla ice cream ($5).
The best part is that much of her "mini livestock" is relatively inexpensive.
"A pound of crickets goes for $31," she says.
It still has to look yummy
One of the latest bug-dining venues, Le Festin Nu, opened in October in Paris. The trendy bar/bistro serves beetles, silkworms, sango worms and giant water bugs.
"Most people start with small ones, like the grasshopper or silkworms, but most end up eating the 10-centimeter giant water bug," says chef Elie Daviron, 26.
Even more adventurous gourmands, including Marc Dennis, choose to cook the little buggers at home. The painter and art professor hosts bug-dinner parties at his abode in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Of course, it isn't for everyone, as Meeru Dhalwala, chef at Vij's and Rangoli restaurants in Vancouver, British Columbia, can attest. She introduced her naan cricket pizza a few years ago, but it didn't catch on.
"People just weren't ready to eat whole crickets," she says. "With insects, the dishes need to look beautiful and not shocking."
The roasted and ground cricket paranta with turnip and tomato curry, on the other hand, was a huge success.
When it comes to easing insects into North American diets, there are plenty of benefits.
"Mealworms, wax worms, crickets and super worms are great sources of protein, and they don't include the bad stuff like cholesterol or saturated fats," Martinez says. "For 100 grams of dried crickets, you get around 40% to 50% of protein, and in red meat you get only 30% to 40%."
As for calories, 1 kilogram of grasshoppers has the same number of calories as 10 hotdogs.
Americans catching on
These benefits, and others, led the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to release a report last year suggesting that if more people ate insects, it could help reduce world hunger. Plus, more than 2 million people worldwide already eat them on a regular basis, says Marcel Dicke, a professor of entomophagy at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
And that number might be on the rise. Former president Bill Clinton recently handed over $1 million to a start-up group that wants to produce insect flour. California-based Tiny Farms sells home bug farms. And Chapul, the world's first cricket-based energy bar, is being sold worldwide.
In the meantime, chew on this: You are already eating bugs.
"Any processed food contains some degree of insect ingredients because it is too expensive to remove them altogether," Dicke says. "Everyone consumes up to 500 grams of insects per year."
For example, the Food and Drug Administration's limit for chocolate is 60 insect fragments per 100 grams. Noodles can have up to 225 insect parts per 225 grams. And peanut butter, up to 30 insect parts per 100 grams.
When it comes to eating six-legged creatures on purpose, now that's another thing.
"I wouldn't call it a huge market opportunity in the U.S. right now," says Mike Vidikan of Innovaro, a trend-forecasting company. "But it has potential to break through in bits and pieces."
Especially during cicada season in Washington, D.C., where Vidikan lives, restaurants have started serving cicada cocktails, cicada tacos and cicada custard.
"Of course, there's still going to be a big difference between Americans accepting cricket tacos on the menu and accepting maggot burgers," he says.
"The ball seems to be rolling, especially among younger people," says David Gordon, author ofThe Eat-a-Bug Cookbook. "There are bug-eating clubs at colleges. The real question is why it's taken folks in the U.S. so long to warm up to the idea."
After all, he says, scorpions taste like crab and baked wax worms like pistachios.
"Eating bugs makes sense, ecologically and economically," Martin writes in her book. "They also happen to taste really good."
All she is saying is: Give bugs a chance. And a place on your dinner plate.
Where to get your grub on:
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, New Orleans
Specialties: chocolate chirp cookies, crispy cajun crickets, mango and apple chutney with waxworms, six-legged salsa, cinnamon bug crunch
423 Canal Street; 800-774-7394
Bistro LQ (Popup restaurant), Los Angeles
Specialties: escamoles (ant larvae) (seasonally), crickets and chapulines (grasshoppers)
Casa Oaxaca, Washington, D.C.
2106 18th St. NW; 202-387-2272
Don Bugito (food cart), San Francisco
Specialties: spicy superworms, chocolate-covered crickets, salted crickets tostadita, wax moth larvae taquitos, toffee mealworms over vanilla ice cream
Gringo, St. Louis
398 N. Euclid; 314-449-.1212
Le Festin Nu, Paris
Specialties: grasshopper, beetles, silk worms, sango worms, giant water bugs
10 Rue de La Fontaine du But
Guelguetza Restaurante, Los Angeles
Specialties: chapulines and ground agave worm chili-salt
3014 W. Olympic Blvd.; 213-427-0608
Toloache, New York
Typhoon, Santa Monica, Calif.
Specialties: Singapore-style scorpions; stir-fried cricket; stir-fried silk worm pupae; Manchurian Chambai ants
3221 Donald Douglas Loop South; 310-390-6565
Shanik Restaurant, Seattle
Specialties: chapulines (starting in spring)
500 Terry Avenue North; 206-486-6884
A Salt Lake City businessman is on a mission to get Americans to eat insects.
Since 2012, Pat Crowley and his business partner Dan O'Neill, have been making high-protein energy bars made from ground up crickets.
Crowley says eating insects are environmentally friendly and nutritious and believes his Chapul bar (chapul is the Aztec word for cricket) will help get Americans into eating bugs the way California rolls eased many of us into trying sushi.
But for many, eating bugs is a hard sell. That's why Crowley came up with an innovative cricket flour.
"We make this flour to address the psychological reasons so people don't have to actually see the insect when they bite into a bar."
Chapul bars taste just as good as other protein bars and come in three flavors. The Aztec bar has dark chocolate, coffee and cayenne chili. The Thai bar is coconut ginger lime with almond butter and cashews.
"And then we have the all American peanut butter and chocolate. Named the Chaco bar which is a Native American culture that lived in the Four Corners region."
Crowley is not alone when it comes to the idea of dining on insects. A 2013 report by the The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations titled "Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security,"calls for intensive farming of insects to feed a growing global population.
The report states, "It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double. Insects offer a significant opportunity..."
Two billion people in the world already consume some of the world's nearly two thousand edible insect species. Bug dishes range from crickets, locusts and beetle larvae to scorpions and tarantulas, according to Mary Ann Hamilton, an entomologist at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado.
"What they eat on these guys," she points to the tarantula nestled in her hand, "are the legs and the abdomen. That's really where all the meat is."
And how would one prepare tarantula?
"Sometimes they flash fry them in a wok, sometimes they boil them to get all the hair off and just gobble them up. Sometimes they just roast them over a fire," Hamilton explains.
While people in most parts of the world eat insects, Americans and Europeans tend to think the idea is downright disgusting.
"If we were to forget that bugs were icky then we'd probably think that bugs were delicious," says Hamilton. "It was easy for us to forget that lobster and shrimp, which are really the bugs of the ocean, were icky. Now they're delicacies."
As far as the taste is concerned, insects typically have subtle flavors, with some being compared to lobster or prawn. "Often times what they do is take on the flavor of whatever you're cooking, so they are kind of like insect tofu," says Hamilton.
Crowley offered me a baked, whole cricket flavored with a chile lime spice. It tasted a bit like shelled sunflower seeds.
If you still can't imagine yourself eating insects, Hamilton has some unsettling news. "I want to tell you a secret, we eat bugs every day. We eat bugs because we have bugs that are milled into our flour that the Food and Drug Administration can't control. Cinnamon, chocolate, those are full of bugs. Any kind of cereal or cereal grain, there is definitely a bug or two in there. Or at least a piece of one."
Not to worry, insects are extremely low in fat and packed with protein, as Crowley points out when describing the cricket flour he uses in his energy bars. "On the nutritional panel it's on a par with whey protein. So it's 60 percent protein, 21 grams per 35 gram serving."
Hamiliton believes one of the reasons wealthy Western societies don't eat bugs is because we don't have to. "Here in the United States we don't really need to eat bugs right now but it's looking like if we want to move successfully into the future it's something that we should start considering."
The U.N.'s Edible Insects report warns that population growth coupled with climate change will make feeding the world extremely difficult in the future.
That is especially true of areas like the American West where water resources are already scarce. "We're going to have to talk a little about how we use water in agriculture," points out Doug Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Center at University of Colorado Law School. "On the Colorado River, the single greatest use of water is to grow crops for cattle feed, for hay and pasture grass, that sort of thing."
Unlike large herbivores like cattle, insects require very little space and a lot less water. For example, Crowley says 10 pounds of feed will produce eight pounds of crickets but only one pound of beef.
He believes the idea of eating bugs is slowly catching on. Chapul bars are now being sold in 100 health food and outdoor recreation stores across America, as well as on his website.
"A year and a half ago when we launched it was blowing people's minds, like 'What? You guys are crazy!' But now it is kind of gaining some momentum and people are becoming more receptive to it."
Crowley laughs while admitting that some people still buy his bars just for the gimmick. "Yeah, I'd probably say at least 25 percent of the people buy it to give to somebody else, then tell them what it was after the fact."
Special guest Chef Sonya Cotéand other culinary stars have provided the tasty noms for this shindig from Alimentary Initiatives, celebrating local nonprofit Little Herds in particular and entomophagy in general. Gainsome new knowledge, experience some new tastes, mingle with the likes of Pat Crowley of Chapul Bars, David George Gordon of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug, Harman Johar of World Entomophagy, Katharina Unger of Farm 432, during this posh and crickety evening. Wed., Feb. 19, 7pm. Wed., Feb. 19, (2014).
Are edible insects the food of the future? One Salt Lake City-based company thinks so. Chapul Inc. has cooked up an energy bar with an eye-popping ingredient -- crickets.
Chapul Bars come in three flavors -- peanut butter, chocolate and Thai -- and sell for $2.99 to $3.59 each. They're made from natural ingredients such as dates, agave nectar, coconut, ginger, lime and dark chocolate. And all contain cricket flour.
"Most people don't know that crickets are a rich source of edible protein," said Patrick Crowley, 33, an environmentalist and Chapul's founder. And compared to cows and pigs, crickets are also a more environmentally-friendly source of protein, he said.
Cattle and pig farms, for instance, require a huge amount of animal feed and water. But crickets need very little water to live and eat mostly agricultural by-products, like corn husks and broccoli stalks. And crickets have a similar protein content as livestock, with less fat, according to Crowley. "So there's both an economic and environmental benefit to farming insects for protein," he said.
Still, there's no denying the obvious cringe factor. Although insect-based foods aren't unusual in many countries, they're still very much a novelty in America. But American consumers seem to be warming up to the idea, at least as far as Chapul in concerned.
The bars launched late last year and are now in 75 stores, mostly independent health food and sporting goods retailers, in 15 states, said Crowley.
He declined to disclose his revenue, but he did say the start-up is profitable and that sales should top $1 million in the next two years.
Crowley has a degree in hydrology, which is the study of the Earth's water bodies, and had worked in the area of water management and conservation. Then a 2011 podcast about how insects are nutritious and eco-friendly food sources captured his imagination.
He researched insect farming and learned that insects convert grain and grass into edible protein as much as 10 times more efficiently than cows and pigs. This gave Crowley the idea to create an all-natural snack made with cricket protein. He recruited a chef friend and a business-savvy college buddy to help launch his idea.
It took them eight months to line up a cricket supplier from California, rent a commercial kitchen, perfect recipes and get the necessary approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the energy bars.
"Our product was a first-of-a-kind, so we had to provide lab test results that showed our cricket flour, and the food we were feeding the crickets, were safe for human consumption," he said.
Next, Crowley went to crowdfunding site Kickstarter last June with the goal of raising $10,000 in 18 days, but he raised $16,000 instead.
"We were surprised at how much interest it got. We had donors from 13 countries," said Crowley. The startup used the money to set up a website, buy ingredients in bulk and make the first batch of 2,000 cricket bars, which were sold online and in stores.
As demand picked up, Crowley contracted with a company to make the bars in larger quantities. "We've also moved production to a bigger facility," he said.
Large retail chains have also expressed in the bars. Crowley is in talks with Whole Foods (WFM, Fortune 500) to bring them to some stores this summer.
Related Story: An iPhone case that doubles as a stun gun
For now, he's pleasantly surprised by how retailers and consumers have responded to his cricket bars, but he's realistic about the challenges ahead.
"Most Americans are still skeptical about foods made with insects," he said. Just last year Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500)faced a consumer backlash when it disclosed that it used insects as food coloring in some of its drinks and food products. The company subsequently announced it would transition to a tomato-based extract.
But Crowley is still confident about his product. The bar's wrapper even features crickets and trumpets the phrase "The Original Cricket Bar" in bold lettering.
"The hardest part is getting people to overcome that psychological barrier of putting the bar in their mouth,." said Crowley, "If you can get past that, they're pretty tasty." T
We've talked about it a lot here: bugs are a great protein source, usually for someone else. Starbucks customers, for example, cheered when the company announced it was removing an artificial coloring in its Frappuccino - until they learned that the organic coloring alternative, long used throughout history, was ground up cochineal bugs.
Salt Lake City-based company Chapul Inc. is selling an energy bar for the less squeamish. It's natural ingredients include dates, agave nectar, coconut, ginger, lime and dark chocolate. Oh, and crickets. Patrick Crowley says crickets are more environmentally friendly than cow protein.
Crickets are something of a novelty in the U.S. but it was easy enough to get FDA approval. They're no more dangerous than genetically modified sugar beets or any other food technology.
So if you want to get some protein and some energy and save Gaea from evil cows, Chapul is the way to go.
Energy bar maker says crickets are eco-friendly protein
SALT LAKE CITY, July 24 (UPI) -- The founder of a Salt Lake City company selling energy bars containing a flour made of ground-up crickets says the insects are an eco-friendly protein source.
Patrick Crowley, 33, founder of Chapul -- which sells peanut butter, chocolate and Thai-flavored Chapul Bars for $2.99 to $3.59 each -- said all of the varieties contain cricket flour, CNNMoney reported Wednesday.
"Most people don't know that crickets are a rich source of edible protein," Crowley said.
He said crickets are a more environmentally friendly variety of protein than livestock such as cows and pigs, as farms for the larger animals use a massive amount of animal feed and water.
Crowley said crickets live on very little water and feed on agricultural by-products including broccoli stalks and corn husks.
"So there's both an economic and environmental benefit to farming insects for protein," he said.
Crowley said his bars are available at 75 stores in 15 states. He said he expects sales to top $1 million in the next two years.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2013/07/24/Energy-bar-maker-says-crickets-are-eco-friendly-protein/UPI-61561374687130/#ixzz30I4OeEkE
Crickets Main Ingredient in New Energy Bars
By Donna Sundblad G+ 2013-07-24 10:59
Eighty percent of the world eats insects as a source of protein. Is that trend coming to the U.S.? One Salt Lake City company thinks so, and crickets are one of the main ingredients found in their energy bars.
Energy bars are a convenient alternative for people controlling what they eat. Labels list ingredients, calories per serving, and the various measurements of sugar, fats, and other ingredients. Last year the environmentalist, Patrick Crowley, came up with a line of protein bars that lists cricket flour as one of its main ingredients. According to Crowley, "Most people don't know that crickets are a rich source of edible protein."
Crowley's energy bars, called Chapul Bars, are all natural and available in three flavors: Chaco Bar, Aztec Bar, and the Thai Bar. These flavors are inspired by regional cultures where crickets are part of a healthy diet. The energy bars include flour made entirely from crickets. This flour is not something new, but is inspired by native techniques used for centuries in the American Southwest and Mexico. These bars also contain no soy or dairy.
Are Edible Insects Food of the Future?
Crowley turned to crickets as an ingredient because they are more environmentally friendly than other protein sources. When raising livestock for protein they require large amounts of feed and water, while crickets need little water and eat mostly agricultural byproducts.
Conserving water has been Crowley's passion for years. During an extended post-college hitchhiking trip, he witnessed water supply problems in Mexico and Central America. He returned to the U.S. to complete a graduate degree in hydrology. The more he learned the more concerned he grew about the unsustainable water consumption in the Southwest United States. There 30 million people depend on the Colorado river for water, but so much water is siphoned from the river for communities and farms in Arizona, Nevada, and California that it no longer reaches the sea.
After hearing Dr. Marcel Dicke's TED talk on entomophagy Crowley thought, why not insects as a potential source of protein? They offer a solution to the overconsumption of water. Insects convert grain and grass into edible protein with more than 10 times the efficiency of cows or pigs.
Benefits of Eating Insects
According to Crowley, insects are a good source of key nutrients including omega-3 acids, plus they are low in fat. He suggests that shifting even a small fraction of protein consumption to insects is a good way to reduce water used to irrigate farms which exist solely to feed 300 million head of cattle and 1.4 billion pigs.
Eating Insects Is Nothing New
The aversion to eating insects, according to Crowley, is psychological. At Chapul Inc., they think it's time to learn from our ancestors and live smarter. That includes eating insects as an efficient source of protein. Today, the Chapul energy bars are sold in 75 stores in 14 states across the country as well as internationally. For those who want to give them a try, they can also be purchased online.
Eating Insects Will Help Feed Hungry World, UN Says
By Wynne Parry, LiveScience Contributor | June 27, 2013 03:42pm ET
Although many Westerners may react to the idea of bug-eating with disgust, insects make up a part of the traditional diets of about 2 billion people.
NEW YORK — The problem is familiar: How to feed a growing world population. Now, a few people have offered a solution that may sound strange, at least to Western ears: Eat insects.
Now, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has weighed in favor of entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. In a 200-plus-page report issued in May, the FAO provides the first comprehensive assessment of insects' current and potential uses food for humans and livestock.
"It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double," reads the report, titled "Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security." "We need to find new ways of growing food." [Crowded Planet: 7 (Billion) Population Milestones&91;
Entomophagy has picked up momentum over the years, Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and a proponent of bug eating told an audience on Wednesday (June 26) night here at the New York Academy of Sciences.
The FAO report, as well as books published over the past 20 years featuring appealing insect recipes and photos, have been a part of the greater acceptance of bug-eating, Sorkin said. "You have to get people to, I guess, swallow it here in the Western part of the world," he told LiveScience.
Although many Westerners may react to the idea of bug-eating with disgust, insects make up a part of the traditional diets of about 2 billion people, the report estimates. These include the larvae of the palm weevil, a type of beetle, in a number of tropical regions; mopane worms in southern Africa; yellow jacket wasp larvae in Japan; and grasshoppers known as chapulines in Oaxaca, Mexico, to name a few.
Beetles account for the most commonly eaten group of insects.
"I happen to like more the immature beetles, the grubs. They're softer," Sorkin said. "They don't have the exoskeleton and they are more flavorful, but to each his own."
Insects offer a clear environmental benefit, because they can convert their own food to body mass more efficiently than traditional livestock, because, unlike chickens, pigs and cows, insects are not warm-blooded, Sorkin said. As a result, they do not have to expend energy to keep themselves warm and can use it to grow instead.
Among other benefits, insects take up little space, can be raised on waste, and research indicates they emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventional livestock, according to the report.
They can be nutritious, with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content, although the nutritional value varies among species, the report says.
But for Westerners, entomophagy may require disguising dinner.
"I think most people here probably don't like to eat insects, because they look like insects. But if you cook the insects, dry the insects and grind them into a flour, more people would consume it," Sorkin said.
One company, Utah-based Chapul, has taken this approach and sells energy bars made of cricket flour.
Humans aren't the only ones who could stand to eat more insects. Research is exploring using insect protein to feed farmed fish and poultry, the report says.
Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.
These guys just can't get enough of our own Pat Crowley. In a brand new segment Pat is interviewed about the UN's FAO report on the future of ebile insects as a global food source. Pat delivers and our Chaco bar gets the seal of approval from KUTV once more!
Why You Should Eat Insects and How You Can Start
By Medha Chandorkar June 9, 2013
The United Nations recently issued a report on future food insecurity as the world's population continues to grow. We've already hit seven billion people on this planet, and if we want everyone to get the nutrients and vitamins they need, we can't keep eating the way we are.
One of the most important parts of a diet is protein, which is primarily found in meat and dairy. Protein is also one of the most expensive kinds of food, particularly if you get the majority of your protein through beef or similar kinds of red meat. It not only costs money to raise the grain to feed the animals, but it also wastes a lot of water, and only around 40% of herded animals are edible anyway. All in all, it's a terribly unsustainable practice.
The UN's answer to this problem? Eat insects instead.
Before you start gagging, consider the fact that cultures all around the world consider insects as delicacies or delicious snacks. The Chinese stay warm in the winter with hot ant soup, the Vietnamese like their bee larvae sauteed in butter, Cambodians eat their tarantulas roasted, the Japanese enjoy boiled wasps with rice, and a midge fly cake is popular all over Africa.
Still not convincing you? Let me throw out some facts. Insects are almost 80% edible, they're incredibly easy and inexpensive to farm and raise, and they pack a lot of protein in a tiny package. Because of all these benefits, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has deemed insects a whopping twelve times more efficient than red meat at simply being food. At the end of the day, they're definitely the bigger bang for your buck.
Still not liking the idea of eating a creepy-crawly? Environmentalist Pat Crowley thinks he has the answer for you. Crowley recently launched a company named Chapul (Aztec for "cricket") in the US, hoping to create a market for insect foods. The company knows that people are grossed out by seeing bugs, so instead, it makes a special energy bar. The main ingredient? Crickets, for protein, but ground into a flour and masked by flavors like coconut and peanut butter.
Crowley admits that his company is small, but it's growing every month. So far, their target audience are people who want sustainable food. Crowley is hopeful, though, that one day, foods like Chapul's energy bars will be standard fare in every grocery store, and we'll all be eating bugs.
Let Them Eat Crickets
They’re nutritious. But delicious?
By Tiffany O'Callaghan
The United Nations wants us to eat more insects. Environmentalist Pat Crowley is on the case. He is a co-founder of Chapul, based in Salt Lake City. The company, launched last year, makes energy bars using crickets as a main ingredient.
Tiffany O’Callaghan: Why do you want people to eat insects?
Pat Crowley: I have been working in water resources for almost a decade, with a focus on sustainable solutions. That inevitably brought me to agriculture, which uses up to 90 percent of our freshwater resources. I heard about insects as a more environmentally friendly form of nutrition. From a water perspective, it was clearly a game-changer.
TO: How did you decide to make energy bars?
PC: The cricket bars are a way to address the largest barrier to an insect-based product in Western Europe and the United States—the psychological aspect. I also wanted to create a product that somebody could eat for sustenance, and bars are already eaten by what I thought might be one of the most receptive audiences: people on the go, who are outdoor-minded and typically more environmentally aware.
TO: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization just issued a report encouraging people to eat more insects. Was that affirming for you?
PC: The FAO has put out a few reports on the subject, but this is the biggest. More affirming than the report itself was the amount of attention it drew. In the past 10 years there has been an exponential increase in the amount of interest in insect consumption.
TO: How's business? Have you sold many bars?
PC: We've grown every month since we started. We sold 6,000 bars last month and expect to sell more this month. But we're aiming for controlled growth. Originally I was looking at what it would take to farm crickets, but it just didn't make sense to do that without any consumer demand. So we decided to create a product to create that demand.
TO: What does your company name mean?
PC: Chapul is the Aztec word for cricket. The Aztecs used to collect crickets en masse, dry them out in the sun and then grind them down to a flour, which they used to make a very dense protein bread. That inspired the method we use to create the flour for the energy bars.
TO: Even in bar form, is it a problem overcoming the "yuck" factor with consumers?
PC: A lot of people are frustrated with the lack of sustainability in the industrial food chain. Right now we're focused on people who are eager for change and understand why we're introducing this product.
TO: Where do you get the crickets from?
PC: There are already large operations farming crickets for the pet food industry. I reached out to farmers about raising them for human consumption, and they tweaked rearing practices to meet health code standards for food-grade products.
TO: Do you hope insects will become staples in the Western diet?
PC: I'd like to see little sparks of the industry starting all over the world, or at least in Western Europe and the United States, where there's a lack. But I don't view insect consumption as a silver bullet. It's one thing we can do and that I can focus my individual energy on. We also need to tackle so many other aspects of the completely unsustainable civilization we've created.
This article originally appeared in New Scientist.
Let them eat crickets – it's more sustainable
04 June 2013 by Tiffany O'Callaghan
The United Nations wants us to eat more insects. Environmentalist Pat Crowley is on the case, with a company he co-founded to make cricket energy bars
Why do you want people to eat insects?
I have been working in water resources for almost a decade, with a focus on sustainable solutions. That inevitably brought me to agriculture, which uses up to 90 per cent of our fresh water resources. I heard about insects as a more environmentally friendly form of nutrition. From a water perspective, it was clearly a game-changer.
How did you decide to make energy bars?
The cricket bars are a way to address the largest barrier to an insect-based product in western Europe and the US – the psychological aspect. I also wanted to create a product that somebody could eat for sustenance, and bars are already eaten by what I thought might be one of the most receptive audiences: people on the go, who are outdoor-minded and typically more environmentally aware.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization just issued a report encouraging people to eat more insects. Was that affirming for you?
The FAO has put out a few reports on the subject, but this is the biggest. More affirming than the report itself was the amount of attention it drew. In the past 10 years there has been an exponential increase in the amount of interest in insect consumption.
How's business? Have you sold many bars?
We've grown every month since we started. We sold 6000 bars last month, and expect to sell more this month. But we're aiming for controlled growth. Originally I was looking at what it would take to farm crickets, but it just didn't make sense to do that without any consumer demand. So we decided to create a product to create that demand.
What does your company name mean?
Chapul is the Aztec word for cricket. The Aztecs used to collect crickets en masse, dry them out in the sun and then grind them down to a flour, which they used to make a very dense protein bread. That inspired the method we use to create the flour for the energy bars.
Even in bar form, is it a problem overcoming the "yuck" factor with consumers?
A lot of people are frustrated with the lack of sustainability in the industrial food chain. Right now we're focused on people who are eager for change and understand why we're introducing this product.
Where do you get the crickets from?
There are already large operations farming crickets for the pet food industry. I reached out to farmers about raising them for human consumption, and they tweaked rearing practices to meet health code standards for food grade products.
Do you hope insects will become staples in the Western diet?
I'd like to see little sparks of the industry starting all over the world, or at least in western Europe and the US, where there's a lack. But I don't view insect consumption as a silver bullet. It's one thing we can do and that I can focus my individual energy on. We also need to tackle so many other aspects of the completely unsustainable civilisation we've created.
A midday thunderstorm wasn't enough to stop our own Pat Crowley from riding his bike to meet up with local Salt Lake station KSL for a very nice interview on the UN's report on the benefits of eating insects. As water conservation is our goal, getting a little love from the skies is never a hassle.
Eat Your Bugs!
There are many environmental reasons to eat insects. But first you have to get past the ick factor.
By Peter Frick-Wright
Photo illustration by Aaron Goodman
YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK SCORPIONS. The exoskeleton traps steam, and they're messy when they pop.
"But get it right," said "Bug Chef" David George Gordon to the swarm of curious faces gathered to watch him work, "and they taste like soft-shell crab."
It was Halloween night. I'd trekked across Portland, Oregon, for a bug-cooking demonstration at Paxton Gate, a store that owner Andy Brown describes as "a natural history museum where everything is for sale." Feats of unusual taxidermy covered the walls. There were piranhas, peacocks, and baby lambs mid-frolic. Owl pellets filled a glass jar in one display; another held mouse skeletons sitting upright in tiny royal costumes. It was nightmarish and wonderful, rewarding for the curious but troublesome for the squeamish. Much like what we were about to do.
Bearded and jovial, Gordon calls himself a chef even though he's not associated with any restaurant. He began collecting insect-based recipes in 1996 and two years later published The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, which includes tonight's two demonstration recipes: tempura-battered mealworms and scorpion scaloppine. Both were made with limited seasoning, Gordon said, because he didn't want to overpower the taste of the insects. Dessert, however, was chapulines (fried grasshoppers) dipped in chocolate. They tasted like chocolate.
I wanted to enjoy eating bugs, I truly did. I've eaten pig ears, sheep intestines, and cow brains, but always in other countries, among other cultures. Here in Portland, however, my stomach turned when I found a side table topped with cups of cricket-laden Chex Mix, and I hesitated before popping one into my mouth. As I crunched it in my back molars, the crispy layer of chitin burst open, exposing a soft but not quite gooey interior. It was like a peanut butter-filled pretzel with legs. The taste was subtle and vaguely citrusy, but I didn't allow myself to dwell on it. Instead, I swallowed hard, as if taking a pill, and focused on denying the grasshopper round-trip privileges.
Others in the costumed crowd seemed to be having similar struggles. "I can't do this. I just can't do this. Aaargh," exclaimed a teenager dressed as Wonder Woman.
"That tastes . . . different," said a grimacing cowgirl chewing on a scorpion.
But not everyone was put off. "They have such a neutral flavor profile that it's tough to figure out what to do with them," said Jason Fritz, a local chef nibbling studiously off to the side. "Maybe some sort of confit. It almost makes me want to source some of this stuff and play around with it."
At the front of the room, Gordon was playing around with a group of kids.
"Some people not only eat chicken," he said, showing them a rubber chicken, "but also the stuff that comes out of its butt."
Their eyes widened.
"Eggs!" he yelled.
He's been doing this for 15 years.
"I use cooking demonstrations to get people to think about their food," Gordon later told me. Only over the past five years, he said, have people started taking seriously the idea that bugs can be an everyday source of protein.
Nothing overcomes the bug/barf barrier like the combination of hunger and ready availability.
To illustrate, Gordon pulled up some pictures on his phone. The cover of his 1998 cookbook, released when eating bugs was a true novelty, is wacky: Gordon scooping up a tarantula with a spatula. But the cover of the reissue that's coming out this July features a skewered grasshopper elegantly placed atop a bowl of chocolate against an all-white background. "You can see how it's transforming," Gordon said. As an ingredient, insects are starting to get some respect.
In many other parts of the world, of course, entomophagy—the technical term for eating insects—is old hat. It's largely North Americans and Europeans who continue to link insect ingestion to barfing. But at the culinary vanguard, insects are undergoing an evolution from gross to exotic to commonplace. Copenhagen's Noma, which has been recognized as the world's best restaurant three years in a row by Restaurant magazine, announced last year that it's undertaking a formal study of bugs in order to "create a gastronomic argument that will make insects an acceptable food in the Western world."
Although Noma's intellectual efforts probably won't make bugs more appetizing to the everyday shopper anytime soon, something else is pushing insects onto some plates. Call it the ecological imperative. As protein sources go, bugs may be more sustainable than almost anything else in our diets. Since they don't waste energy generating their own heat, they can be (depending on the species) four times more efficient than mammals at turning feed into protein. Insects also seem to account for fewer greenhouse gases than the livestock we traditionally consider delicious. One life cycle assessment of mealworms showed that they produce 29 percent less carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of protein than chickens, 32 percent less than pigs, and 81 percent less than cattle.
Still, even those who find such statistics compelling don't appear to be rushing to make mealworms a regular part of their diet. Carbon-output charts rarely sway appetites. Until someone can convince us to eat insects by choice rather than out of gourmet bravado, ecological arguments might as well be shouted at the bugs themselves.
ENTREPRENEUR PAT CROWLEY accepts that challenge.
When I called him last fall to chat about his new cricket-based energy bar company, Chapul, we ended up discussing Lakeside Cave, a remote archaeological site on the desolate western shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake that once contained a minor ethnobiological mystery. He wanted to visit it, he said. Did I want to join him?
A few weeks later, we set out from Salt Lake City very early in the morning, braced to spend most of the day searching for the cave. We'd come prepared for almost anything—except the ease of our hunt. Not long after breakfast, we stood on the shore looking into Lakeside Cave's dark mouth.
We'd trekked here because in 1984, when archaeologist David Madsen had dug into the cave's sediment floor, he'd found the remnants of 5 million grasshoppers. Puzzled at first, he soon found bits of 'hopper in some dried human feces nearby. The bugs had been for dinner, it seemed, but their sheer number sounded impossible. He assumed that catching grasshoppers was tedious work. How had they gathered so many?
The answer came a year later when some of Madsen's friends who were hiking the shore of the Great Salt Lake came upon huge piles of grasshoppers washed up on the beach, sun-dried and seasoned by the lake's brine. Madsen estimated that there were as many as 10,000 grasshoppers per foot of shoreline, deposited in windrows up to six feet wide and nine inches tall.
Then Madsen calculated the energy expended in gathering the grasshoppers and compared it with the energy they provided. Lakeside Cave dwellers would have been able to gather about 200 pounds of grasshoppers per hour, he wrote in Natural History magazine, with the bugs yielding 1,365 calories per pound. Even if he had somehow overestimated the rate of return by a factor of 10, he figured, the only thing as calorically rewarding as eating grasshoppers would have been finding 43 Big Macs stacked on the sand.
When Madsen removed the lake's uncommon bounty from the equation, he still found that gathering bugs by more traditional methods—like herding them into ditch traps or streams and scooping them out—compared favorably to most forms of hunting.
Though grasshoppers may not have been the most delectable edibles in the West, they were among the easiest food sources to find. And nothing overcomes the bug/barf barrier like the combination of hunger and ready availability.
This trip to Lakeside Cave was a sort of pilgrimage for Crowley, since his business exists to convince people to eat more insects. His Chapul energy bars look and taste like healthy cookies but are mostly made of crickets. He hopes they can do for entomophagy what the avocado-laden California roll did for sushi—make the unfamiliar palatable to everyday Americans.
A WATERSHED HYDROLOGIST BY TRAINING, Crowley was born in Phoenix and has spent most of his life in the Colorado River Basin. He has a beach bum's blond mane and a laid-back comportment left over from a stint as a surfing instructor, but he's also the type to measure trail runs in hours. After graduate school, his work quantifying agricultural water use and helping cities hash out water rights left him feeling increasingly frustrated with the prospects for changing the country's water management systems.
Then, one day in June 2011, he was riding Salt Lake mass transit and listening to a TED Talk by Dutch entomology professor Marcel Dicke. Give a cow 10 pounds of feed and you get 1 pound of cow, Dicke explained. Give crickets 10 pounds of feed and you get 9 pounds of cricket.
Something clicked. Crowley knew that growing alfalfa for cattle was the biggest single use of water from the Colorado River. In fact, agriculture sucks up more than 90 percent of the freshwater consumed by humans worldwide. Beef requires 15.8 gallons of water per gram of protein; pork, 5.8; chicken, 5.2; and soy, 1.6. Crickets require only 0.8. He started crunching the numbers about how much water could be saved if we got even a small portion of our protein from insects—and he started getting very excited.
The crispy layer of chitin burst open, exposing a soft but not quite gooey interior. It was like a peanut butter–filled pretzel with legs.
Over the next year, Crowley studied how to start a company, picking the brain of anyone in the food industry he could take out to lunch. Last July, his Kickstarter campaign raised $16,000. Making cricket bars throughout the fall in a local kitchen and selling them primarily online, he ran out of his stock by Thanksgiving. This February he hired his first employee. By March, Chapul bars were for sale in 50 stores, mostly natural foods grocers, in 11 states.
Each bar costs $3, but the ingredients aren't exactly cheap, Crowley noted. "It's a good thing that I don't have a business background," he said. "Because I don't know if what I'm doing is a bad idea."
But bugs may not always be relegated to specialty grocers. Two years ago in the Netherlands, a chain of Costco-like stores called Sligro began carrying freeze-dried locusts, mealworms, and other whole insects supplied by Dutch company Bugs Originals. The company also makes a prepackaged product called Bugs Nuggets, which are 80 percent chicken and 20 percent mealworms.
If bugs do find their way onto American shelves, Chapul may not be there alone. Bug Muscle, a start-up in Southern California, is pursuing an insect-based protein supplement for bodybuilders, mixed martial artists, and survivalists—folks who don't care what they're eating so long as it gives them the right type of nutrition, founder Dianne Guilfoyle said.
Like Crowley, Guilfoyle had to learn how to launch a company to get Bug Muscle off the ground. Unlike Crowley, she is marketing and refining her product by giving out samples at cage fights and eyeing a contract with the U.S. military.
Bug Muscle's end goal, however, dovetails nicely with Chapul's.
"We're trying to take the yuck factor out of the American mind-set," Guilfoyle said. "I don't want to stay a small company. I want it to go big."
No matter how big entomophagy becomes, though, it won't take up much room.
Recently, Dutch scientists Dennis Oonincx and Imke de Boer of Wageningen University (the same school where Dicke teaches) analyzed the production of mealworms and found that it requires only one-tenth of the land required to raise an equivalent amount of beef.
"We consider the low [land use&91; of mealworms to be particularly important," they wrote in the journal PLOS ONE. "Expansion of agricultural land is a major source of [greenhouse gas&91; production."
Like mealworms, crickets are remarkably space-efficient to raise because they prefer dark, teeming environments. A cricket farm is essentially a concentrated animal feeding operation—without the suffering.
At Timberline Live Pet Food in Marion, Illinois, one of the largest cricket farms in the country, pens are stacked vertically 12 feet tall, which makes for 2.4 million square feet of useful production space in a 200,000-square-foot facility. And with property set aside and builders at the ready, owner Todd Goodman said, his ability to expand the operation is virtually infinite.
So far, though, he sells crickets only as pet food. Last year, 10 companies approached him looking to buy them for human food. And Goodman said he's willing, though he hasn't come to terms with anyone yet. But while he stands to profit from increased consumption, he's not exactly cheerleading the concept.
"I've never eaten a cricket, and I'm not gonna," Goodman said. "And I'm certainly not going to encourage you."
Throughout human history, most agricultural innovations have involved dominating the natural environment. We rerouted rivers and harnessed wild animals to feed ourselves, then fertilized the soil with natural and artificial nitrogen. We engineered cornstalks to grow unnaturally close together and crossbred wheat into a more efficient version of itself.
But entomophagy represents an adaptation in our way of thinking. If we make bugs a regular part of our diet, it means we are responding and adjusting to our environment rather than the other way around. And it's happening without panic or famine, just a slightly shy tummy.
Near the end of our day at the Great Salt Lake, as Crowley and I hiked the shoreline, we stopped for lunch on the leeward side of a rocky outcropping. Snacking on pita bread and mangoes, we discussed the superiority of bugs as a food source. Suddenly Crowley lunged forward and plucked a grasshopper from the grass near his feet. We'd just been talking about how insects and humans are biologically different enough that we aren't likely to pass diseases between species, but I still wasn't quite ready for what came next.
"You want to split this?" he said.
I had just eaten, and the grasshopper was still twitching, and there was a bit of green ooze seeping from its abdomen. But the thing about entomophagy is that unlike with most of our food, the more you learn about bugs, the better they start to sound.
I took it from him and considered my options.
"Cheers," I said.
By CCTV correspondent YaKenda McGahee
Half the world’s population will suffer water shortages within 15 years according to the World Bank, just one of many recent alarming reports surrounding the world’s fresh water supply. And now a newly released report called "America’s water risk" found that several major U.S. cities are facing a severe risk of water scarcity due to drought and population growth. But one Utah man who’s "bugged" by those reports - is trying to conserve water by changing taste buds.
Water remains one of the world’s most valuable resources, but by all accounts we’re bankrupting it mostly to produce food.
Pat Cowley, founder & owner of Chapul Bars, said:"The Colorado river in particular is a water resource for 35 million people yet it doesn’t flow to the Ocean anymore. We pump it completely dry it’s just all consumed for agriculture."
Hard as it may be to believe - one hamburger requires 634 gallons of water and it can take as much as 11-thousand gallons of water to produce a a single beef cow.
Pat Crowley said:"You can save thousand of times the water per unit of protein switching just a fraction of our protein intake from livestock and soy to insects."
So raft-guide Pat Crowley decided to stop talking and start baking - bugs. Crickets to be exact. High in protein and calcium rich, they’re considered a dietary staple in some cultures.
Pat Crowley said:"Down in Wahuca Mexico, they eat Chapulina’s. That’s a grasshopper and they’ll fry them and put them in taco’s. That’s where we got our name from actually, Chapul."
Chapul Bars are one-part chocolate energy snack bar, one-part insect - with one major barrier standing between this company and commercial success - the disgust factor.
"I’m psyching myself out, because I feel like I’m eating a roach man."
Pat Crowley said:"You don’t have to see any eyes or antennae’s or legs or anything. So we make a flower, it’s really kind of subtle. It looks like a food product and we mix it with dates and nut butters."
To enhance the all-natural flavor of the insects or mask it, depending on who you ask.
Steven Rosenberg, CEO of Liberty Heights Fresh Grocery, said:"We’re selling bars, you know. We were placing orders. Is it our fastest selling item in the store? No. But is it gaining in popularity? Everyday."
Because the reluctance to insect-eating is something they say can only change one-day, one-bite at a time.
Eat Bugs: They are Tasty, Healthy and Part of the New World Order
POSTED BY MARI HERRERAS ON THU, MAY 16, 2013 AT 5:18 PM
I've gotten to know a few meal worms in my time—namely, the ones I used to feed to my son's lizard. I was the only one in my household bold enough to take them out of their containers, pick them up and toss them in the lizard's dish. Didn't bother me and I loved watching the lizard happily gobble those guys up.
Besides reminding me of how I left the lid of the lizard's cage off when I went out of town for a week (so sad), all this meal worm talk brings me to a Slate article about how the UN wants us to eat more bugs—it's the food of the future, not soylent green.
The story in Slate:
Over the weekend I read a bit about Rand Paul's efforts to fundraise off an alleged United Nations plot to confiscate your guns, but they turn out to be up to something considerably more insidious—they want us all to eat more insects. Now, on the merits, the case for insect eating is pretty strong. Bugs are high in protein, much like proper animals, but compared to—say—a cow "they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint." Which is to say insects reproduce quickly, they grow quickly, and, since they're really low on the food chain, the plant-to-insect-to-food path is one of the least resource-intensive ways of converting solar power into fuel for humans. Of course the problem with eating insects is that it's kind of gross and they don't taste very good. ...
Fear not, dear Tucson. Scanning Facebook this morning, I remembered that the Loft Cinema has put some tasty Chapul bug bars on the menu. Yeah, my son and I split the chocolate and peanut butter cricket bar. Not bad. Crunchy in its own unique way.
There's a cool Tucson connect: The Chapul founders went to grad school here at the UA, but the company is based in Utah. Check out the website here. There's a video on the home page that explains a non-UN version of the benefits of eating bugs. Humanity has evidently been doing it forever.
You want the numbers? Check out the details over on NutraNews where our bars are broken down and the nutrional facts are handed out. Complete protein? Check! High in calcium and iron? Check! Delicious? Check! We get the nutrional thumbs up and have "impressive macros". Awww shucks, you've got us blushing!
The panel of the TV show "The Doctors" is made up of, well, doctors. On an exercise based episode the docs give our bars a try and love 'em! These guys even went out and did their own research on the health benefits of bugs and give us the thumbs up; we always love getting that good bill of health.
Got Insects? Insect Protein Bars: The Newest Trend!
By Staci Canny
Posted Apr 15 2013 - 10:00am
When you see a bug indoors, or even outdoors for that matter, it is often followed by a not so pleasant reaction. However, have you ever considered eating these pests, rather than stomping on them and leaving them on the ground or in the trashcan? Well, one man did think just that, and has since developed the revolutionary Chapul bars.
Pat Crowley, the founder of Chapul Bars, has developed an energy bar made with cricket protein flour.
Crowley donates 10 percent of the company’s profits to water conservation projects that are within regions that helped inspire their bars. The first flavor, the Chaco bar, was inspired by the Chacos people, a pre-Columbian civilization, from Northwestern New Mexico. These bars are made with dates, chocolate, peanuts, flax, and walnuts, along with their signature cricket protein powder. Their latest variety is Thai bars inspired by Thailand. These are made with coconut, ginger, lime, dates, almond butter, cashews, and of course, cricket protein powder. In terms of nutrition content, these organic bars are loaded with protein, iron, and omega-3 acids, as well as being low in cholesterol and fat.
According to the National Geographic article, “For Most People, Eating Bugs Is Only Natural,” cuisine is shaped by culture. While eating insects is a component of diets in African, Asian, and Latin American cultures, it is taboo in the United States and Europe. Americans can benefit from eating insects, as it would be a more efficient and healthy means of consuming protein. According to the USDA, the daily recommendation for protein for men ages 19 to 30 is 6 ½ ounces, while for women ages 19 to 30, it is 5 ½ ounces.
According to Chapul Bars, U.S. agriculture uses 92 percent of freshwater. Furthermore, cattle production not only uses tons of natural resources, but it also produces tons of greenhouse gases. Unless you are buying organic meat, chances are it is going to come from a cow that ingested pesticides throughout its lifetime, while being given growth hormones. While beef is a good source of protein, it is also high in fat. According to “For Most People, Eating Bugs Is Only Natural,” a hamburger has 18 percent protein and 18 percent fat. In comparison, a cooked grasshopper has 60 percent protein and six percent fat. Even with this fat, it is unsaturated, making it a healthier fat.
In an effort to help the environment and the health of Americans, insects seem to be a natural answer. Not only are they are in abundance, but they also require significantly less resources to transform into a state suitable for human consumption. Rather than getting your protein from fatty meats, sugary cereals, salty granola bars, or protein powders, all of which contain artificial ingredients, try opting for a more natural and healthy route with insects. Think about it. Rather than making these pests the enemy, we should be making them the meal.
In an interview with the CBS station in Phoenix, Pat (our own Phoenix native) runs thought the benefits of bugs from what may be his office or secluded jungle getaway. As a bonus, KPHO visits Arizona Hiking Shack and shows the first on camera glimpse of our new display boxes, hot off the press.
Could cricket souffle replace steak?
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 19 Apr 2013 11:43 AM
Author: Ali Morrow
Climate change and food security advocates want creepy-crawlies hitherto loved mostly by gardeners and photographers to find their way onto the world’s dinner plates. But it may be an uphill battle before steak is replaced by cricket soufflé.
As the world’s population swells to an estimated 9 billion by 2050, some nutritionists see grasshoppers, spiders, crickets, mealworms, bee larvae and silkworm pupae, as well as other edible species, as a way of keeping malnutrition at bay among humans. What’s more, eating insects could help contain global warming if they replace diet staples like beef, pork and chicken.
In a sign of the times, insect dishes such as bee larvae and wax worm tacos will be on sale at two of the world’s biggest insect-food festivals this spring. The organisers of Pestival, to be held in London in April, expect more than 200,000 visitors, while the 27th annual Bug Fair in Los Angeles is expected to draw at least 10,000.
“Insects are basically packets of protein,” says Paul Vantomme, senior forestry officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. As the population grows, “there’s high demand for protein, and traditional sources, such as meat and fish, have problems.”
Vantomme notes that cows require about eight kilos of grain to produce one kilo of meat, making them a big factor in deforestation and methane production, two big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO estimates that livestock also consume 15 percent of all water supplied by irrigation.
In those figures, the FAO and a growing number of entrepreneurial food companies see a big opportunity.
People have been eating insects for centuries, and up to 80 percent of the world’s population outside Europe and North America still rely on insects for some part of their diet. But, as Western influence has grown and poverty has forced more people into urban centers, insect harvesting has decreased, says Patrick Durst, a senior forestry officer for Asia and the Pacific with the FAO.
The impact of the decline is evident in Laos, where malnutrition is now the highest in South-East Asia. Fifty percent of children under 5 in rural areas are chronically malnourished because they lack protein. But local governments aren’t keen to encourage insect consumption, wary of appearing “backward” compared to Western cultures, Durst says.
To spur demand and availability, the FAO has funded a three-year insect-farming program in which insect-farming techniques used in Thailand will be taught to 150 farmers in Laos.
Thailand is the model as it is the only country in the region where insect consumption has grown over the past 15 years. Thailand has a thriving insect farming industry with over 20,000 farms, Durst says.
Crickets are the most popular insects to eat as they’re considered one of the tastiest. They’re also the most prevalent because they’re the easiest to farm, he says, and “it’s been possible to rachet up the supply quite easily to meet expanding demand.”
Most crickets are fried and sold as crispy snacks by street vendors and in small shops and markets, he said. Bamboo caterpillars also are eaten.
Meanwhile, a few entrepreneurs are promoting insects in the West as a healthier and more environmentally-friendly protein than meat.
Florence Dunkel, an associate professor of entomology at Montana State University, compares a 100 gram serving of rib roast to “land shrimp," or Lepidoptera – the class of insect that includes moths. She says insects offer seven percent more protein, 35 times more calcium and ten times more iron than the meat, as well as less fat. The problem, she concedes, is that insects have “bad press, more often falling into the category of filth.”
CRICKET BARS GET A KICKSTART
Salt Lake City-based Chapul is among the companies trying to change that perception. Chapul’s founder, Pat Crowley, says “our entire business is focused on overcoming the cultural hurdle of eating bugs.”
The biggest psychological barrier is seeing the whole insect, he says. So, Chapul has instead created protein bars, in flavours like peanut and chocolate or coconut, ginger and lime, using “cricket flour.”
Crowley believes it's working. The cricket bar project brought in $16,000 through Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding platform, in 18 days last year, easily surpassing the company’s $10,000 goal.
But if insects are to make a significant dent in the food system, people will need to eat more than protein bars.
“If you want to introduce a new food, you need to find a place for it in cuisine,” says Ben Reade, head of culinary research and development at the Nordic Food Lab, where he explores the “marginal areas of food and cooking” from a houseboat on Denmark’s coast.
Food scientists can make the perfect protein, Reade says, “but people won't come back for more unless it tastes good.”
He has been working with insects to fine-tune their “deliciousness,” and appeal. Worms and “the crunch” of insects with firm exteriors can repel diners, he says.
So, “gateway foods” - foods people “are inclined to say ‘yes’ to - are required, he says. If insects are inserted into ice cream, beer or candy “most people will say yes,” he claims.
Even if people eventually get comfortable with chocolate-covered crickets, new regulations are needed to ease cross-border trade in insects in order to scale-up their use. Most current laws are focused on weeding insects out of food, not welcoming them as food. And insect farms need to be adapted to churn out protein suitable for human consumption. In most countries, farms harvest insects for pet food, not humans.
In the short-term, feeding insects to animals may have more potential.
Right now, “the majority of protein for (industrially farmed) livestock and fish comes from soybeans and fish meal,” says Vantomme. That contributes to deforestation, fresh water scarcity and declining fish stocks.
Insects are a good alternative, he said. But far more than can be captured in the wild are needed to feed fields of livestock and ponds full of farmed fish.
Glen Courtright, the CEO of EnviroFlight, has one solution.
Courtright, who lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has been harvesting soldier flies as a replacement for fishmeal. He feeds the flies on organic waste in the form of brewers’ grains discarded from the beer making process. Twenty million flies can be raised in 1,000 square feet. Once processed, every square foot of enclosure provides one pound per day of food for aquaculture.
The flies consume twice their body weight per day and reproduce quickly, laying up to 900 eggs three days after mating, he says, making them an efficient and abundant feed source.
So successful have the flies been with fish that Courtright is now working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop a similar feed for livestock.
Ben Reade, the Danish entrepreneur, is also testing some new dishes for Pestival. One will likely be made from bee larvae.
“It's delish,” he insists. “All it’s ever eaten is honeycomb.”
Ali Morrow has worked as a strategic planner at an international advertising agency and is now a fellow of global journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.
The good people over at ABC News give a nice introduction to Chapul and our mission. “Raising eyebrows for [our&91; unique ingredients…” Yup, and filling bellies with nutritious, environmentally sound whole protein. We've got a box of Thai bars with Diane Sawyer's name on them...and we just might throw in a handsome organic cotton Chapul t-shirt, 'cause we're big-hearted like that.
New energy bars are sustainable, chocolate and full of crickets
Cricket energy bars: Chapul has created energy bars that use cricket protein flour. IMAGE Chapul
MSN News3/7/13 By Michelle McGuinness
Chapul is starting a revolution — with crickets.
The energy bar maker aims to "introduce a revolutionary, efficient protein" in the form of insects. The company's Chaco Bar includes dates, peanuts, dark chocolate, agave nectar and cricket protein flour.
Related: Cranberry-pumpkin seed energy bars recipe
"For centuries, human civilizations have rightly considered insects an excellent, plentiful and resource-efficient source of protein," Chapul's website says.
The site says 80 percent of the world's population still eats insects, including red tree ants, grasshoppers and bee larvae. Now, Chapul is bringing crickets into American cuisine thanks to a successfully funded kick-starter project launched in June.
According to Chapul, crickets are not only organic and a great source of protein, they can also help create more sustainable food and water supplies.
"As children of the arid Southwestern U.S., we believe passionately in sustainable use of our precious water resources," the website says. "Since agriculture absorbs 92% of all freshwater consumed globally, we think change starts with what we eat."
According to Chapul, more conventional food sources like cattle, pigs and chickens consume huge amounts of water resources and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Even soy and whey protein suck up resources, the website says.
According to the site, Chapul founder Pat Crowley became passionate about water sources after seeing supply problems during a hitchhiking trip in Mexico and Central America.
He said he sees Chapul as "the first step in a broad culinary shift. … Enough change here at home, and one day the mighty Colorado (River) might just reach the sea again."
Insects: The new protein source?
Bugs could replace meat, but would you eat them?
When I was in Mexico City a few months ago, I ordered some guacamole with a twist; sprinkled on top of the avocado-rich treat were some roasted, salted chapulines (that's Spanish for crickets). Though I've been a vegetarian for 20 years, I don't have a problem with bug consumption, and I've always been interested in eating insects, since they are low-impact to raise, abundant and protein-rich.
Starre Vartan about to eat bugsThose I tasted at the high-end lunch-spot in Mexico City had a mild, smoky flavor (I'm not sure if that's their regular flavor or if they were smoked) and were well-salted, which made them a tasty accompaniment to the lemony, buttery guacamole. I enjoyed them, and though I spied a few legs here and there, they were mostly well-chopped, and not necessarily identifiable as bugs at all; without looking, and if I hadn't known they were there, I would have guessed they were some smoked and dried toothsome onions. I would have no problem eating them again, though I enjoyed them more as a garnish (albeit a heavy one) rather than a main course.
But there are people the world over who do consume insects (a practice called entomophagy) as a main part of the meal, from Thailand, where woodworms, crickets and bamboo worms are fried up and seasoned with something like soy sauce and pepper and enjoyed with a beer, to Ghana where termites are ground up into flour or roasted — food that tides people over nutritionally until spring crops start yielding food. In addition to chapulines, ant eggs, caterpillars and various worms are enjoyed in Mexico every which way (including in mezcal), and in China larval forms of various insects are enjoyed, including silk worm and roasted bee larvae, as well as ant soup. And in Brazil, queen ants (which supposedly taste like mint), are dipped in chocolate and munched down every October and November when they come out of their nests in Silveiras, a town in the southwest part of the country.
Here in the U.S., the Chapul Bar is the "original cricket bar" and is an energy/protein bar that's made from mashed insects and organic dates, nuts and chocolate. Each Chapul flavor is inspired by the region it comes from (and 10 percent of profits from that bar go back to help with water conservation projects in that area). I haven't tried them yet, but I'll be sure to review them soon!
Besides being a good protein source, insects contain beneficial minerals and vitamins, and have a much (much!) smaller environmental footprint (with crickets the smallest of all) that other meats. For comparison, a cow's carbon footprint is about 2,850 grams of CO2 per kilo of mass gained, whereas for pigs it's about 1,120, sun beetles around 121 and crickets just 1.27. Not to mention water and animal feed savings!
And insects are significantly healthier to eat than animals, too. According to the U.S. News and World Report travel section, "100 grams of top sirloin beef contains about 29 grams of protein in addition to a whopping 21 grams of fat, while 100 grams of grasshopper contains 20 grams of protein and a measly six grams of fat."
Since insect-eating is a cultural construct, if you find yourself disgusted about eating them, it's probably because of how you think about bugs, not how they actually taste (very few Americans I know have even tried them). Often the only time we have seen insects being eaten is on would-you-or-wouldn't-you gross-out TV shows like "Fear Factor."
Considering that, would you eat insects if they were cooked up? (I, for one, draw the line at eating them raw.) Why or why not? If the idea disgusts you, do you think you could get over it? What if you were visiting another country and everyone was eating fried ants at the bar?
I already know my answer. What's yours?
Pat Crowley has visions of bugs in his hamburgers. And wax worms in his trail mix.
This isn’t a "Fear Factor" inspired nightmare, but a hope. The Salt Lake businessman wants to attract Americans to what most of the world’s population already knows: Edible insects are a rich source of protein that’s easy on the Earth.
But Crowley, 33, realizes he has to take baby steps down the path of this culinary revolution. That’s why he chose the friendly cricket — think Jiminy — as his first menu item.
"Our main mission is to make it culturally acceptable" to eat insects, Crowley said. "We thought the cricket was a fairly easy transition, as opposed to a worm or a beetle."
Crickets ground into a flour — that way there are no legs or antennae to think about — provides the protein in the energy bars Crowley and his three partners started making last September.
The business is small but growing steadily, with 2,000 bars sold last month. The Chapul Bars — it means cricket or grasshopper in Aztec — are sold for about $3 in 30 locally-owned stores in 12 states, and Crowley expects to double the retail locations in the next month. He also is about to double the number of energy bar flavors — bringing it to four — and will soon be moving to a larger kitchen.
While a company called Hotlix sells lollipops and toffee with crickets, worms, scorpions or ants inside as a novelty, Crowley says his is the first nutritional product created using insect parts.
"It’s about time," agrees Florence Vaccarello Dunkel, associate professor of entomology at Montana State University, who runs The Food Insects Newsletter, which promotes the use of insects as food for humans and other animals.
She calls insects "land shrimp," since they’re genetically cousins to ocean shrimp. She uses the wax moth larvae, crickets and mealworms in the quesadillas, stir frys and dream bars she’s been serving for 25 years at her university’s annual Bug Buffet.
"It’s very odd that we feed our turtles and lizards and other reptiles this high-quality protein and we eat things like chicken, beef and pork," she said in a telephone interview from her Bozeman office, noting that a 100-gram serving of insects is higher in protein, calcium and iron than 100 grams of beef. There’s no cholesterol in insects and they have the healthy omega 3 fatty acids, she said.
"The insects are like mushrooms — they take on the taste of what you put with them," she added.
She and Crowley agree that Americans are more receptive to insect protein than ever.
"People are ready for a change," Crowley said. "They’re more in tune with where their food comes from and the unsustainability of our mainstream food products."
A global food • Some 80 percent of the world’s population intentionally eats 1,700 species of insects for food. People eat red tree ants in Cambodia, bee larvae in Japan and grasshoppers in Mexico, Crowley said.
Americans and Europeans are notably absent from the guest list.
Of course, we eat bugs as well — but just not on purpose. The Food and Drug Administration allows all kinds of "insect fragments" in food — up to 60 per 100 grams of chocolate, 30 per 100 grams of peanut butter, and up to 10 whole insects per 8 ounce of raisins, according to its Food Defect Action Level booklet.
As Crowley mixes up a batch of his Thai flavored bars — cricket flour stirred with coconut flakes, dates, almond butter, agave nectar, cashews, ginger and lime — he says the flavors are inspired by cultures where insects are traditionally consumed as part of their diets.
The brown flour that smells fishy comes from out-of-state cricket farms that primarily raise them for pet food. Crowley says he bakes the insects to kill bacteria and then grinds them into a flour. Each 51 gram energy bar contains the equivalent of 12 crickets, for 6 grams of protein.
Utah has its own cultural tradition of eating insects. Like about 50 percent of Native American tribes that used insects as food, the Utes and Southern Paiutes did, too. In the 1870s, John Wesley Powell noted that grasshoppers and crickets were collected in droves, roasted like seeds and ground down to be eaten as a mush or in cakes.
They were eaten whole, salted and sun-dried, "much as residents of any present-day neighborhood lounge consume beer nuts," David B. Madsen, Utah’s former state archeologist, wrote in his article "A Grasshopper in Every Pot" published in a Nevada historical quarterly in 1989. Madsen has also written that Mormon pioneer diaries were full of references to eating insects.
Not only were insects widely used as Native Americans’ winter food storage, they also were a delicacy. The mixture of insects, pine nuts and berries left to dry in the sun was called "desert fruitcake."
Dunkel tells these Utah stories in her lectures on how insects can save lives, saying Native Americans’ reserves of bugs helped Mormon pioneers survive.
And Crowley is using it as inspiration for his newest energy bar, to be called Wasatch.
But the first new flavor, out in April, will be called the Aztec bar. Made with dark cocoa, coffee and spices, Crowley had to tweak the recipe because a taste-tester thought the crunch was from the crickets. It was the coffee.
Now, the kick just comes from the cayenne.
Saving the planet • Crowley, who runs the company with three partners, support from friends and family and an infusion of $16,000 from Kickstarter, doesn’t want the bars to be a novelty product. However, sales were strongest at Christmas as stocking stuffers. And he jokingly guesses that half the customers who buy the bars plan to give it to their wives to eat before they know the ingredients.
While the packaging features artistic pictures of crickets, Crowley is hesitant to have actual crickets photographed in connection with the food. He considers the energy bars the "California roll of bugs," easing people into trying insects just as the California roll — which was free of raw fish — helped Americans feel less wary about eating sushi.
Steven Rosenberg, owner of Liberty Heights Fresh — the top seller of Chapul bars — said he was hesitant to sell them at first. But he was sold on the mission of the product, and the taste.
He said customers who buy it are those who "share some of the same values that I share. People who want to eat healthy food that’s delicious, nutritious and not a great burden to the planet."
It was the planet — its water in particular — that put Crowley on the path from hydrologist and whitewater rafting guide to rolling dough in a kitchen in Artspace Commons. Experts say the agriculture industry consumes most of the world’s freshwater, using it on land to grow livestock. It’s estimated that producing livestock also creates one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases. After hearing a TED talk called "Why not eat insects?," Crowley saw a solution to this pressing environmental problem.
Insects, Crowley calculates, use one-tenth the amount of water needed to produce the same amount of beef. Put another way, 10 pounds of feed creates 1 pound of beef, but 8 pounds of crickets.
"This is a project that is a game changer, if you change a fraction of our protein to rearing insects instead of cows," he said. "It’s not a silver bullet, which doesn’t exist, but it’s an example of something that’s radically different."
He’s finding customers are willing to try it once. But will they keep coming back?
Adele Flail wonders if chirping crickets might soon remind listeners of a dinner bell, and pronounces Chapul bars "moist, with a fresher, richer taste than most commercial snack or energy bars."
Food finds from the Sundance Film Festival
Food finds » From cricket flour to free veggie burgers to savory waffles — here are some festival gems.
By Kathy Stephenson | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jan 22 2013 11:01 pm • Last Updated May 05 2013 11:33 pm
Park City » Sundance may be about movies, but there’s plenty of eating that goes on, too. Here are five of our favorite food finds from the first weekend of the festival.
Cricket Bars » Pat Crowley, founder of the Utah-based Chapul Cricket Bars, was in the Utah Independent Filmakers Lounge offering samples of his new energy bar made with cricket flour. The Utah entrepreneur bakes crickets and then grinds them into a fine flour. The powder is a small — and tasteless — portion of the recipe that also includes dates, nuts, agave and ginger. But it packs a powerful punch as it has more protein per ounce than other protein powder products. Utah resident Tom Woodbury, a culinary expert on ShopNBC, was there helping to promote the bars. "It’s an experience to watch people try the bar for the first time," said Woodbury. " At first they’re skeptical, but once they start to eat, they realize how good crickets taste!"
A platter of biscuits and cornbread sit on the tables for the dinner prepared by celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, that kicks off the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, prepares food for the kick off to the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Members of the kitchen crew of celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, prepare bread pudding for the kick off to the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, prepares food for the kick off to the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, prepares food for the kick off to the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Celebrity chef Whitney Miller, winner of Masterchef Season 1, prepares food for the kick off to the 10th anniversary of ChefDance, where top chefs from around the country cook for the casts and crews of Sundance Films, in Park City on January 18, 2013.
Free veggie burgers » Hundreds waited in line to get free vegetarian burgers, chili and more at the Morning Star Farms Burger Bar. The meatless burger and sausage producer took over The Eating Establishment restaurant at 317 Main Street for the 10-day run of the festival to introduce people to its vegetarian offerings. On the first day alone, more than 1,000 film festival enthusiasts enjoyed the veggie burgers, according to the company’s Facebook page. The free food and drinks continue everyday from 10 a.m. to midnight, through Saturday, Jan. 26. But plan some time: You’ll probably have to wait in line.
Stuffed shrimp sandwich » Whitney Miller, winner of the first season of "Masterchef," kicked off the 10th-anniversary edition of ChefDance on Friday, Jan. 18. Miller brought her unique style of Southern cooking to the event, preparing a four-course meal that included a kind of French dip sandwich with southern ingredients. She stuffed French bread, sent in from New Orleans, with barbecue shrimp and sausage and placed it in a bowl with au jus. "You usually receive the French bread on the side," Miller said. "But the best part of the dish is dipping up the juice, so I just did the work for people and put it all together." The Southern meal also includes cornbread with Mississippi honey, braised beef and white chocolate bread pudding.
Waffles with sausage and gravy » Off the Grid, a Salt Lake City food truck, was parked at the New Frontier at the Yard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., serving its sweet and savory waffle creations. While there are many options, for a meal that will stick to your ribs through an entire movie and a shuttle ride, order the Parmesan and herb waffle topped with an over-easy egg (or scrambled if you must), tomatoes, sausage and country gravy.
Angry eggs » Spicy deviled eggs with homemade green sriracha, called "Angry eggs," are just one of the appetizers that will be served Wednesday night during an exclusive cocktail party for 175 Sundance filmmakers. Award-winning Los Angeles chef Susan Feniger, the owner of Street and Border Grill restaurants, is creating the food for the event in the Cuisine Unlimited catering kitchens in Salt Lake City using recipes from her recent cookbook Susan Feniger’s Street Food. Besides the eggs, filmmakers will also be served Feniger’s Japanese fried chicken with yuzu kosho dipping sauce and spiced lamb meatballs. "Those are three dishes that people are crazy about," she said.
Every year hundreds of unknowns hope to make their big break at Sundance, this year it looks like Pat Crowley is the one making it to the A-list. Our own celebrity chef gives an in depth look in to what goes in to those cricket bars that have the audiences cheering.
The lovely folks at WCTV were so interested in Chapul that they aired two, unique segements on us. Check out the videos and see the nice things that Tallahassee locals have to say about about the crickets invading their community.
We're proud to say our bars have made it to Tallahassee. Florida State University's NPR station featured an interview with JB from Chapul where they talk just as much about crickets as they do about the Lion King. Hakuna mata, baby!
The foodies are at the gates of Chapul and we happily welcome them in. With a big spread in the winter edition of Edible Wasatch (pgs 8-10) we're thrilled to introduce ourselves to those connoisseurs out there and get them chowing down on the finest insects on the market. While crickets may not be on any gourmet menus yet, our dedicated customers give us five stars all the time!
We can't thank Frank Phelan of Living Earth Grocery in Worcester enough - he took the time to talk about Chapul for the paper, then radio, and now TV! He hit the press trifecta and we hope Living Earth is swarming with customers. A big "thank you" to Frank for his acceptance of Chapul and his bold stance in promoting insect protein.
Hot on the heels of newspaper coverage of our explosion on to the scene in the North-East, local radio station WBZ 1030 interviews Frank Phelan of Living Earth. Who would have thought that chirping crickets would make for great talk radio?
Instead of migrating south for the winter we decided to head east, Massachusetts specifically. Check out this article from the Worcester Telegraph on our first location in New Englad and the reaction locals are having — "It is great, man!"
Over here at Chapul HQ, we like to keep the focus on the bugs. Because you aren't getting a protein boost by watching one of us flap our gums, am I right? That said, two of our favorite people on this crazy blue marble, Josh Walter and BJ Alden over at Claremont McKenna College, put together a great video introducing Chapul and showing a series of lip-smacking taste tests by CMC students, and we thought we'd share. Enjoy!
...and we love this snapshot of buggy goodness from Women's Health. As they point out in a slideshow on food trends, "bug eating won't be reserved for adventurous Anthony Bourdain types for much longer." And with a delicious, nutritious option like Chapul energy bars just a few mouse clicks away, why should they be?
Dirtbag Gourmet: The Energy Bar Made From…Crickets
BY BRENDAN LEONARD OCTOBER 31, 2012
The energy bar aisle in most American grocery stores has a selection extensive enough to plunge anyone into the paralysis of choice, confused and asking, “What’s the difference?”
Here’s one with a real difference: Chapul Bars. Their major protein source? Crickets. But you won’t be picking tiny insect legs out of your teeth after eating them — the crickets are milled down to powder, or what Chapul calls “cricket flour,” before they’re added into the bars.
In 2011, founder Pat Crowley listened to a TED Talk on the environmental and health benefits of eating insects and became excited at the idea of a form of protein that could be utilized with a much smaller impact on freshwater resources. During summer 2012, Chapul raised more than $16,000 in startup capital on Kickstarter, and he has begun production and distribution of two flavors of bars, focusing first in the Denver metro area.
“Hands down the biggest issue we have in the acceptance of our bars is the cultural shift needed in the mindset of Americans that it’s not only acceptable, but responsible to eat bugs,” says John Beers of Chapul. “We’ve tried to make Chapul bars both palatable and accessible — no legs or antennae sticking out— to the average consumer.” The amount of cricket flour used in each bar equates to approximately two to three crickets per bar. Beers says vegetarians’ response to Chapul Bars has been “a mixed bag,” with some being very accepting of a protein source that allows vegetarians to cut some soy and whey from their diets.
Crickets, a delicacy in some parts of Mexico and Southeast Asia, have yet to find an audience in the United States — Chapul bars are the first commercial food product in the U.S. to contain protein flour made from insects. Chapul purchases live crickets from a ranch in California, bakes them, and uses a special mill to turn them into cricket flour, which is then mixed in with dates, almonds and other all natural ingredients.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A new Kickstarter project attempts to attack serious global concerns with an unusual new snack: cricket bars.
Chapul, founded by college roommates Dan O'Neill of San Francisco and Pat Crowley of Salt Lake City, aims to introduce Americans slowly to the benefits of eating insects with nutritious but approachable cricket energy bars. (Think Clif Bars. But with bugs.)
"Insects are environmentally friendly and extremely nutritious," Crowley told The Huffington Post. "But the largest hurdle to the industry is the psychology."
Crowley, a surf and rafting guide and world explorer, had tried eating insects during his global travels. After watching Marcel Dicke's TED Talk on the benefits of an insect diet (better nutrition with a significantly lower environmental impact), he became determined to make the practice more than just a daring experience.
"I went home and tried to catch some bugs, but I was terrible at it," Crowley said with a laugh. "Eventually I just ordered them online."
Crowley pitched O'Neill on his idea for a new company over some cold beers and a side of sautéed crickets. O'Neill, a financial analyst with a knack for business and a serious adventurous streak, was hooked.
Now, O'Neill and Crowley are insect-eating evangelists with a marketing campaign that just might work.
Eating insects itself is nothing new in San Francisco. Last year, Don Bugito created buzz with its wax moth larvae tacos and ice cream with mealworm sprinkles. But for the less adventurous, forking down the bugs can be a bit tough to swallow.
"Some people have trouble with the cultural shift, so we really researched how to approach that," Crowley explained.
For inspiration, Crowley and O'Neill looked to the California roll, which served as sushi's entry point into the American diet.
"The California roll was very strategically developed," Crowley said. "They replaced some of the fish with avocado so people would get used to the texture; they flipped the nori inside-out so people wouldn't be intimidated by the seaweed. It made it easier for people to take that first step."
Instead of presenting customers with whole bugs, Chapul starts with a flour of ground crickets and fills the bar with dates, nuts, agave, ginger, coconut and other tasty ingredients. A spoon full of sugar, indeed.
And cricket bars are just the start. "We're dipping our toes in the water, but we already have other products in mind," he added. Next on the list: bug burgers.
Want to try some cricket bars for yourself? Donate $20 to Chapul's Kickstarter program and O'Neill and Crowley will send you a box.
One of our favorite food bloggers, Melissa over at Serving Seconds says "pass the crickets, please," and backs Chapul on Kickstarter. You betcha...one box of delicious Chapul bars on their way. We're looking forward to hearing feedback on our recipes from refined palettes like Melissa's. We'll bet you one organic cotton t-shirt that you love 'em!
Salt Lake City's Rob Tennant (clearly both a gentleman and a scholar) tried our Chaco and Thai bars, and pronounces them "much better" than a "big name commercial product you might throw into your backpack for a day hike." We're biased, but Chapul bars are pretty tasty, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on our recipes after you give 'em a try!
'Nuff said, we think. Many thanks to Tamara Palmer and SF Weekly for getting the word out. And as she suggests, you can check out our Kickstarter video to learn more about efficient insect protein and how and why we think it can change the world for the better.
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. The Ski Channel tells their readers that Chapul bars are "good, really good," and says "this sick new product...is revolutionary." And for anybody who wants a peek at what cricket energy can do for you, check out Callan Chythlook-Sisof, a Winter X Games silver medalist and the first native Alaskan on the U.S. Olympic team. Go Cal...Sochi 2014!
Watch Pat and Ruth on KUTV News in Salt Lake City, explaining Chapul's inspiration, recipes and mission to invest profits in water sustainability projects. Mary - you're brave, and we love ya for it. Let us know if you have a craving for some Chapul energy and protein on those early morning reporting excursions and we'll set you up..
Adriana Yugovich at Nerdegade reports on her behind-the-scenes experience at Bug Fair 2012, including her taste test of Chapul bars (scroll halfway down the page). We'll spare you the suspense: "super delicious, like a super moist Clif bar, but way better." And Adriana - we think you're pretty cool, too. We're particularly enamored of your finely tuned energy bar palette.
The Arizona Daily Star carried a great piece on Chapul and the case for insect protein in their Sunday edition, with pictures of Ruth whipping up a tasty batch of bars and the Chapul team sporting our revolutionary finest. Kudos to Carli Brousseau and the Daily Star team for a solid overview of the environmental importance and history of insects as food.