Food for the future
According to a 2016 Global Food Policy Report (read more), the strategies currently employed to feed our population are proving less and less effective as the population grows, along with an increase in greenhouses gas emissions, water shortages and loss of arable land. At Natural & Organic Products Europe 2016 we had an opportunity to meet Christine Spliid, Founder of Crobar, a brand of cricket energy bars that recently launched in the UK, and part of a food source that experts have tipped as a potential solution to tomorrows nutritional challenges.
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”
Albert Einstein, a relatively clever guy, quite rightly observed that if an idea isn’t what we would classify today as ‘disruptive’ then it probably isn’t worth all that much. The notion of eating insects is a prime example. For those trying insects for the first time, this seemingly ‘absurd’ food experience is most commonly met with intrepidation. The whole idea seems crazy and gross. But this is often followed by an anti-climactic reaction of “it’s actually ok”. Immediately people overcome this “yuck factor” and all of a sudden something that seemed crazy is actually not so. In fact when we then consider the sustainability and nutritional benefits, it would seem crazy not to take insects as a food source seriously
Let’s talk ‘ingredients’ rather than ‘insect’
Thanks to securing new investment Crobar have been able to rebrand the bars, this time using only very subtle hints as to its cricket flour content. As Spliid explained, the aim of this rebrand is to shift the conversation away from insects as a novelty and towards good, natural and sustainable ingredients. Indeed this is most likely how Crobar and other insect products can gain further ground. After all, the news is often littered with stories of how consumers fail to read the label. If a product happened to list cricket protein then who will really care that much? It certainly hasn’t bothered consumers who eat sweets and other foods dyed with carmine, a red colouring made from ground up cochineal insects.
Feeding the world with insects
Currently Europe is seeing migration on a biblical scale, which, in addition to war, some have attributed to climate change. On the borders of Europe camps are growing with swathes of migrants unable to feed themselves in a situation, which if left to worsen could start to resemble the camps of WW2. Whilst the idea of providing aid in the form of bags of whole insects may seem an unimaginable, what if aid could be delivered in a form similar to bengal famine mixture, which was a primitive soup supplement used to save the malnourished victims of camps such a Bergen-Belsen? What if a starving population were able to not only survive on an insect protein based food supplement, but even thrive? It would not only solve problems now, but it would also solve problems tomorrow. Reports universally concur that alternative food sources may be required to solve our future food challenges. But it may be the case that the future has come a lot sooner than expected.
For more on insects as food click here.