Cricket protein bars: the next big health food craze?
A B.C. company is hoping the special ingredient in its new protein bars will make them a "hopping" success.
That ingredient? Free range, organic, lightly toasted crickets.
If chirping insects don't sound appetizing to you, the founders of North Vancouver-based Coast Protein understand, but they believe that view will fade over time.
"We know that people's perceptions around food can change," Chris Baird, the company’s head of marketing, told CTV News. "Lobster used to be one of the cheapest forms of meat available. They used to feed it to prisoners. They used to ground up lobster and turn it into fertilizer."
Could crickets be next? It certainly doesn't hurt that the insects aren't detectable in Coast's protein bars, which come in two flavours, dark chocolate raisin and peanut butter.
Before being mixed into the bars, they're ground into a powder, so there's no worrying about biting down on a crunchy leg or any other part of the cricket anatomy.
"When you bite into our bar you're tasting the dried fruits, the nuts, some seeds, all whole ingredients," Baird said. “They taste really good.”
But why, one might ask, would Coast bother to use crickets in their bars?
According to Baird, one of the main factors driving their decision is sustainability. Crickets require 2,000 times less water and 12 times less feed to produce a pound of protein than cows.
"You can grow them close to urban environments and they require very little energy and they're insanely efficient," Baird said. "The sustainability aspect of how crickets are produced is really exceptional. They blow every other type of animal protein out of the water."
The insects are a nutritional gold mine, according to Coast, containing 65 per cent protein by weight, not to mention more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.
The only obstacle is the ick factor, but Baird said they've been pleasantly surprised by the public response so far.
"It's actually been a lot better than we'd initially expected. People are really on board with trying out a natural whole food source," he told CTV News.
"I must admit initially it's something you have a little bit of trepidation about, but the second you take that first bite it's completely normal. And after a few bites it's just like any other protein bar or any other type of animal."
Coast's protein bars cost $36 for a 10-pack, with each bar containing 10 grams of protein. To learn more about them, visit the Coast website.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander