These Hoppers Could Power Your Next Workout: Cricket Bars
If you weren’t raised eating bugs, errm, insects, the thought of crunching down on something that crawls out from under a log may not sound very appealing. But in many places around the world, protein is where you can find it, not just stuck between two buns at a burger joint, or packed into a foam tray and wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
And in order to more our food system to a more sustainable one, we’re going to have to start looking at some unconventional protein sources, because the current methods of producing beef and other animal proteins are not only slurping down our precious freshwater resources and contaminating our water supplies, but they’re also very time- and land-intensive.
But if we shifted at least some of our protein needs over to quick and highly-efficient (at least in terms of feed and water consumption) species, including insects, it could help stretch our thin resources even farther, while still supplying people with nutritious food.
One such insect that’s getting a bit of attention lately is the cricket, which we might associate more with their lovely summer sounds than with being an ingredient, but which could be a source for sustainable, high-quality protein. The big issue for most people, it seems, is the thought of having to crunch down and chew up legs and antennae, which goes against pretty much everything our childhood instincts tell us about avoiding eating bugs and creepy crawly things.
The answer is to grind the crickets up into a powder, which can be added to a variety of different foods without having it feel like you’re, well, eating bugs.
Hopper Cricket Bars are the latest venture into the mainstreaming of entomography, and this Austin startup wants to normalise it through creating great tasting products “that people will want to eat every day.”
According to the Hopper Foods website, crickets are worlds ahead of other animal protein foods in terms of their food conversion ratio and their water use:
“Cows require 10 lb of feed to produce 1 lb of protein, crickets only require 2 lb. They have a food conversion ratio that puts all livestock to shame and is also superior to chicken. Crickets are also extremely water efficient. To produce 1 lb of protein from cattle you need 1000 gallons of water. To produce 1 lb of protein from crickets you only need a single gallon of water. Crickets also produce 80x less methane than cattle. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is 20x more potent than carbon dioxide.” – Hopper Foods
The team has created three flavors of energy bars (Peanut Butter, Cherry & Cacao; Kale, Green Tea, Seaweed & Ginger; and Cranberry & Cashew), containing nuts, seeds, fruits, honey, and of course, cricket flour. Each of the bars contains 8 grams of protein, mostly in the form of cricket flour, of which it takes about 25 crickets per bar. The crickets are fed a non-GMO grain-based diet, and are said to be “food grade and fully FDA compliant”
To get this venture up and launched in a big way, Hopper Foods is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to buy a specialized packaging machine for production, as well as to run some extensive lab testing to get their product into retail stores. Backers at the $25 level will get a box of sample bars to taste for themselves, and they can be pre-ordered at the Hopper Foods website as well.
[Jeff, over at our sister site Sustainablog, also has his take on the cricket bars, by Jiminy.]