Posts Tagged ‘exo’

From Cringe to Crave… Video of my Ignite presentation, with alternate ending…

October 22, 2014

A few weeks ago, I went onstage at the High Noon Saloon to deliver an Ignite presentation (20 slides in 5 minutes) on the theme of “Attainable Sustainable.” I spoke very quickly about how I overcome my aversion to eating a very attainable and sustainable (but not commonly appreciated) food…

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I think it turned out pretty well. I had a lot to cram in there, and there was way more left out than put in. I’ve been writing a lot about entomophagy recently. (My first draft was over an hour long.)

Also, my last slide (slide #20) did not make it. In the moment, I panicked thinking I miscounted my slides, so I ended abruptly. But I didn’t miscount. My slides were cut short due to a technical issue with the computer.

So in the spirit of a Quantum-Leap/Back-To-The-Future-type ambition to put right what once went wrong, I will go through how I would have wanted it to end.

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…Now I encourage you all to take your own journeys. Because eating bugs is not so weird, most of the world already does it. And it’s sustainable and paleo, and kosher, and gluten free, and no more grosser than many things we eat now.

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And there are now bars with cricket protein, and a cricket flour you can bake with, and resources with the Eat-a-Bug Cookbook and Daniella Martin’s Edible.

It’s just a matter over that cultural aversion. As with a lot of things we wouldn’t normally do–like karaoke, giving an Ignite presentations–a little alcohol helps

I wanted to conclude by making clear that there are way more palatable edible insect foods out there now than what I made with my own cooking, like energy bars from Exo and Chapul, savory snacks from Don Bugito,  candies from Hotlix, and cool flour and baked goods from Bitty Foods.

Many thanks to the folks at Ignite and Sustain Dane for putting together such a cool night of folks talking sustainability from a variety of fun and unique angles. Check them all out here.

And also thanks to Cheri Schweitzer, top-notch Madison restaurant consultant of Credible Consulting, food safety expert, and instructor for WWBIC’s very worthwhile “Business Planning for Your Food Business,” who recommended I try to do this thing.

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I was in the news over the weekend…

September 2, 2014

Over the weekend, The Capital Times published an article from a long, rambling conversation I had with food/culture reporter Lindsay Christians

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Cap Times also put together a pretty cool image gallery for the few items I brought in. Lindsay was game to try the cookies, Cricket Canape, and Cricket Leather (the last 2 from Daniella Martin’s Edible). The Superworm Tempura (from David George Gordon’s great Eat-A-Bug Coookbook) although pretty awesome-tasting when freshly fried, had become a tepid room temperature. She understandably resisted the urge to try those.

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Photo credit: Mike DeVries

Apart from wishing I still had my beard for the picture, I think it turned out pretty well. Although I’m not too comfortable with the title “entomophagist.”

Also, when she asked, “You said earlier that there are “so many good reasons” to eat bugs. Can you explain some?”

I responded, “Definitely environmental and nutritional reasons,” and then I go down a rabbit hole of feed conversion rates and agriculture stats to elaborate on the environmental benefits.

The “nutritional reasons” I spoke to in my overlong response were not included in the article. Although I’ve written about some of these benefits in previous posts (“Sustainable Paleo” and “No Mad Mealworm Disease“), I’ll add here the awesome table published in the UN Insect Food and Feed Report comparing the protein content of the most common edible insects and reptiles to that of cattle (as well as lobster, shrimp, and prawns).

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Pound for pound, crickets, termites, silkworms, cicadas, and grasshoppers have equivalent offerings for protein to the red meat gold standard.

The UN report also has numbers on amino acid profiles, which also compare nicely.

Bonus: Where insects have comparable amounts of protein and amino acid offerings, the have comparably less–and even minimal–saturated fat. You can check out chapter 6 for all the details…http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e00.htm

But, whateves. I do go on. I’m surprised how comprehensible the interview did come out, given how prone I am to digression. Admittedly, I was a little out of it from the bug party I hosted the night before.

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Post-interview, mid-hangover selfie 

Some mentions were included for a lot of the folks and groups who have helped me so far in just the very early thinking and planning for a edible insect business, including…

Unfortunately, some important folks who have helped this along weren’t mentioned…and that may be their preference when it comes to a bug-eating article. Nonetheless, I’ll mention them here because they’re awesome.

  • Cheri Schweitzer, top-notch Madison restaurant consultant of Credible Consulting, food safety expert, and instructor for WWBIC’s very worthwhile “Business Planning for Your Food Business” whose Facebook post about trying some cricket cookies got the media attention that prompted the interview.
  • The Evening MBA Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in particular, the class of 2015, who have all been surprisingly game with the idea of a US entomophagy business and have provided thoughtful input and only occasional jokes.

And to my good friends and “very supportive” girlfriend who have bravely tried my few insect food experiments. Hopefully, they’ll get better. I’ll soon have a few pounds of homegrown mealworm to deal with.

Seriously, I need a brave, open-minded chef/food expert. Anyone know any?

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My attempt at chocolate-covered crix were kind of a mess…

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but the superworm tempura were awesomepants.

Why Eat Bugs #4: Sustainable Paleo

July 27, 2014

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There is a great article in the July 28th New Yorker overviewing the concepts and history of the paleo diet movement as writer (and environmental expert) Elizabeth Kolbert goes full paleo for her family for  a week.

With Kolbert’s entertaining and informative flair, she runs through the highlights and arguments for the paleo diet (namely, how agriculture is the worst mistake man has ever made…an idea popularized in the landmark piece by Jared Diamond).

Although she comes across cautiously supportive of the diet, she nonetheless ends the article by dismissing it for its unsustainability:

Whether or not agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of the human race, the choice, once made, was for the good. With a global population of 7 billion people, heading rapidly to toward 8 billion, there’s certainly no turning back now. Pound for pound, beef production demands at least 10x as much water as wheat production, and, calorie for calorie, it demands almost 20x as much energy…All of which to say that, from an environmental standpoint, paleo’s “let them eat steak” approach is a disaster.

I wonder if she conferred with her New Yorker counterpart Dana Goodyear, who’s awesome 2011 article on entomophagy got me thinking about the whole bug thing.

I’ve already written about the sustainability advantages of insect husbandry over traditional forms of animal protein production. But I’m only now realizing how well bugs fit in the paleo lifestyle.

I’m not super into paleo, but I do the Crossfit thing and it’s inevitable that you get introduced to the diet at your local box. I agree with a lot of paleo principles and did try going full paleo for a month. It took a lot of adjusting with me doing a lot of cooking and working with a lot of new grocery (coconut flour… who knew?). After going through a sluggish period of what I can only understand as “gluten-withdrawal,” I felt awesome and lost a few pounds.

Although I continue to try new paleo dishes and limit my intake of processed flour (but not sugar… holy moly I have a problem there), ultimately it’s a pretty time-consuming, repetitive, and expensive diet to maintain whole hog.

But if I had access to a cheap, healthy, and very paleo food source…

Insects were most definitely part of the original paleo diet. Cavedudes were more likely crunching on cicadas than they were on bacon-wrapped avocados.

And certain bugs are very nutritious food sources with high protein, fiber, vitamin, and mineral content. For example, the recent United Nations report calls out mealworms as having a similar offering of protein, vitamin and minerals as in fish and meat. Furthermore, the Robb Wolf blog also makes the paleo-bug connection and posts some actual numbers on the nutritional content of a variety of bugs. For example, see how well some bugs compare protien-wise to beef and fish…

 

From the great The Food Insects Newsletter, July 1996

 

Insect Protein (g)
Giant Water Beetle 19.8
Grasshopper 20.6
Caterpillar 28.2
Beef (Lean Ground) 27.4
Fish (Broiled Cod) 28.5

Already, the savvy Exo are selling on the paleo-bug connection with their protein bars made from nuts and cricket flour, with each bar consisting of an equivalent of 25 crickets. (BTW…If anyone has tried these things, let me know. I’m on the fence on going all in on a $40 box.)

However, I’m guessing the production costs and processing involved with getting crickets into the protein bar form would limit the sustainability. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

But a cricket that is straight-up simply roasted with a little chili-lime flavoring might prove to be a very “sustainable paleo” offering.

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Luckily, the San Francisco food cart Don Bugito is offering this online. I just bought some for a very reasonable $5. Will let you know how it goes…