Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Eating Bugs

I’ve always considered myself fairly adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.  I checked off escargot and frogs legs in 7th grade French class.  I tried haggis when we visited Scotland, and ate sea cucumber in Taipei.  So why I am so squeamish about eating a protein bar made with cricket flour?

The Chapul Cricket Bar is the brainchild of Pat Crowley, a hydrologist and white-water guide from Arizona.  Pat’s concern about the lack of sustainability of our current water supplies vs. our current water consumption in the United States drove him to investigate insect protein as a solution to the overconsumption of freshwater in our industrialized agriculture sector, which consumes as much as 92% of all freshwater we (humans) use around the world.
Chapul’s mission, excerpted directly from their web site, www.chapul.com, follows:

Chapul has a simple goal – to build a more sustainable future by introducing incredibly efficient insect protein in a delicious, organic product...our tasty Chapul bars.

As children of the arid Southwestern U.S., we believe passionately in sustainable use of our precious water resources. Since agriculture absorbs 92% of all freshwater consumed globally, we think change starts with what we eat, and it starts with all of us.

At Chapul, our mission is three-fold:
1) Create a delicious energy bar
2) Introduce a revolutionary, efficient protein
3) Invest 10% of all profits in water conservation in the regions which inspire our bars
So when my friend Eric told me he had invested in the company, I went to Wasatch Running and bought a bar. 
It all sounds so good on paper - tapping a sustainable source of protein for human food.  Per Chapul’s web site, crickets need very little water to live and eat mostly agricultural by-products, like corn husks and broccoli stalks. And crickets have protein content similar to that of livestock, with less fat. Even the packaging is enticing:
Cricket flour is an environmentally friendly, safe, and delicious source of protein that we advocate in the name of sustainability.  10% of profits from this bar fund water sustainability projects in Mexico.
What’s not to like?  And hey, I live in Utah.  100,000 seagulls can’t be wrong!
It was time to stop writing about it and just take a bite.  I chose the Aztec Bar: Dark Chocolate, Coffee and Cayenne.  It actually tastes quite rich.  I could taste the main ingredient, organic dates.  I could taste the chocolate and coffee, with the cayenne offering a nice finish.  I couldn’t taste even the slightest hint of bug.
Check crickets off the list.  Kudos to Chapul for their willingness to take on the “ick factor” in order to bring a sustainable source of protein to the American palate.  Saving the environment – one bar at a time.

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