Ask Dave: Cricket, Anyone?

Posted on October 6, 2013 by

1


Dear Dave,

I have just started hearing about Cricket Flour as a good source of protein.  Is this for real or an internet hoax gone viral?

Diane, Tucson

Hello Diane,

Yes this is very much for real and not a recently dreamed up fad created by food ‘inventors.’ In fact insects are nutritional staples for a large percentage of the worlds population.  As for the recent cricket boom – it is worthy of further investigation and there are a few warnings to consider.  I’ll elaborate on the ups and downs of bingeing on bugs:

Staple or Snack?

At the forefront of the cricket flour trend are energy bars.  Energy bars seem to multiply faster than crickets so in order for a new bar to be viable it MUST meet certain criteria; good taste, reasonable cost, and perceived benefit top the list.  I have been investigating two new prominent companies poised for success with their new cricket bars; EXO and Chapul.   (at this time I have only been able to find detailed ingredients and nutritional info for Chapul) Of Chapul’s three varieties the one with the BEST protein/carb ratio only had 7g protein per 27g carbs.  Now keep in mind that protein is the big selling point for crickets – so why is protein the big nutritional loser in Chapul’s bars?  I imagine that the reason is the taste: more crickets = more protein = more delicious(?) cricket flavor.

The bottom line:  Add enough dates to just about anything and will taste good.  If you are seeking protein, eat foods that are PROTEIN SOURCES.  This means protein will be the most abundant nutrient in the nutritional facts. 

Consider the source

While I don’t yet anticipate cricket farm-shares or mealworm booths at the farmer’s market I expect a big marketing push to arrive soon.  With any boom there are those who seek to offer the best quality and those who seek to simply make the most profit.  Crickets and mealworms can be fed vegetables, seeds, grains, cardboard, newspaper, and a wide range of other nutritionally questionable substances.  Just as with everything we eat, the finished product depends on the ingredients and rearing practices.  If we eat cheaply raised insects, we get cheap protein.  

My parting advice: Before you buy a case of cricket bars ask some questions….What is the percentage of protein?  – and – What did you feed those little guys?

 

Chirp, Chirp,                    images

Dave

 

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