Food of the future and an ancient tradition? Wrap your mind around that one.

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."

Chapul Bars

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.

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