Tasty. photo: Envato
The ski community tends to be more environmentally minded that other groups of society, since our livelihoods and sanity are tied to weather patterns. Reducing your impact and adopting sustainable practices aren’t new ideas any more. From a sustainability standpoint eating insects is much more efficient than eating larger animals, such as cows, due to the resource requirements for raising them. Crickets require far fewer resources to raise and are a source of protein some 20 times more efficient than beef.
The cheeseburger is deep in American culture, that is essentially untouchable, can you imagine opting out for a cricket burger? American culture remains very opposed to the idea of eating insects, a staple in cultures from Italy to Mexico to Thailand. But, there are other ways to introduce crickets into everyday foods; since crickets are protein rich, protein bars is a logical jump. Recently several companies have been founded that make cricket energy bars, alternatives to the Cliff Bars and other protein bars that find their way into every skier’s pack.
Cricket bars don’t look any different from other offerings. photo: National Geographic
Two companies in particular, Exo (from exoskeleton) and Chapul (Aztec for cricket) have been experimenting with cricket-based protein bars. Nutritionally this makes sense; cricket meal has more protein than wild salmon, more iron than beef, calcium than milk, and vitamin B (absent in whey/hemp, vegetable based protein sources). Cricket meal (ground up roasted/frozen crickets) has one other thing going for it, compared to whey or soy powder cricket meal has a flavor that is easy to disguise, meaning less sugar in your protein bars. Also, by blending the crickets into a powder the psychological factor is eliminated, you can’t see any bug legs or eyes sticking out of the bars to remind you that you’re about to eat insects.
Quick Breakdown of Cliff Bar vs. Cricket Bar
Apricot Cliff Bar: 320 calories/3.5 grams fat/45 grams carbohydrates/9 grams protein/23 grams sugar
Exo Energy Bar: 290 calories/20 grams fat/27 grams carbohydrates/10 grams protein/14 grams sugar
While the health conscious, sustainably minded, and paleo dieters will immediately recognize the benefits of cricket bars, there likely won’t be a mainstream jump to embrace insects. Thanks to the popularity and prevalence of the paleo diet, cricket meal could become the next paleo-superfood, added to various recipes to boost protein content. Sustainability aside, the nutrition benefits of cricket energy bars are behind these latest ventures.