Last night I went to a cool event hosted by the Food Bloggers of Canada at Food Starter, a business accelerator program for people who are passionate about food. They help people commercialize their products by providing a production facility, commercial kitchen and baker equipment, seminars and programs, as well as lots of moral support. Us food bloggers were lucky enough to meet a bunch of companies in different stages of growth who were more than willing to share their culinary delights.
A couple companies really blew my freaking mind, both for their sustainability and for their surprising deliciousness: pasta sauce made with bugs!
Yea, that’s right. There was not one, but two companies promoting pasta sauces made with insects. Apparently this is the latest in sustainable health food! Who knew? I’m late to this trend, but Popular Science wrote about it last year, and The Washington Post did a story on this months ago (so did Fortune and Forbes). There are actually more than 30 startups across North America focusing on cricket-based foods, and many trend forecasters predict that insect-based protein powder is the next big thing.
Gryllies makes a tomato-based pasta sauce as well as a savoury pulse mix made with ground crickets, while One Hop Kitchen makes two of the world’s only insect-based bolognese sauces, one with mealworms and the other with crickets.
Fun fact I learned from Esther at Gryllies: If you are allergic to shellfish then you also may be allergic to crickets!
Esther got the idea for the product when she decided to go vegetarian for environmental reasons. Crickets are high in protein and use so much less water in their processing compared to beef it’s crazy!
Gryllies had three sauces to try with pasta. Their tomato pasta sauce which you can buy bottled, as well a pesto and an Alfredo sauce made with their pulse product. The Alfredo sauce was tasty and I was surprised at how much I liked it; the crickets gave the sauce a mushroomy and earthy flavour that was really appealing. The pulse product is ground crickets, so it’s easy to incorporate into food, and you barely know what it is.
One Hop Kitchen also had a cool demonstration, first asking us to taste test three sauces and see if we could distinguish between typical grocery store meat sauce, mealworm sauce and grasshopper sauce. And guess what? Yours truly apparently has quite the palette for insect sauces because I guessed right! (They were totally surprised.)
These guys invented a mealworm product that looks and feels a lot like tofu, and that’s what they grind up in their sauce. It gave the mealworm bolognese a great texture and made it seem really meaty. Both sauces will run you $9.99 a jar.
At first I was a little alarmed by this idea, but upon talking to these industrious folks and tasting their products I am really impressed with their ingenuity. I love the idea of creating solutions for sustainable food and helping out the environment, and while I don’t think I will be eliminating beef or pork from my diet any time soon, I have no problem incorporating more insects into my diet, especially when I can have pasta on the regular.
Would you ever incorporate insects into your diet?