I just ate 40 crickets. It’s true! I just enjoyed a few handfuls of Hopper Crunch, the new and innovative Paleo granola that incorporates 40 crickets as cricket flour in each ½ cup serving. It’s kind of weird to think I just chowed down 40 recently creepy crawly arthropods, but why shouldn’t bugs be on the menu? Our ancestors certainly ate them and as vastly more gastronomically acceptable in the form of flour, crickets fit today’s Paleo model: they’re grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, a great source of high quality protein, and abundant in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. In fact, ounce for ounce, cricket flour provides a higher concentration of complete protein than beef or chicken, as well as much more of the hard-to-get minerals magnesium and manganese. Cricket flour is also a notable source of Thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamin B12 and many other key nutrients. And because you’re eating the whole insect – the exoskeleton and all the internal organs, you’re getting the nutritional goodness of the whole food (albeit it’s not exactly eating nose to tail but rather antenna to hind leg.) In any case, there’s no bone broth or gelatin needed to round out your nutrition. Furthermore, the crickets in question were sustainably raised and harvested with ethical considerations.
Still, with all the Paleo-friendly food products out there, why would you want to take that extra step (or a giant leap for most of us) and eat bugs? There are some very compelling reasons. Crickets are especially efficient at generating themselves and therefore a very efficient source of protein, healthy fat and micronutrients compared to traditional livestock. For instance, it takes 1 gallon of water to produce 1 pound of cricket protein compared to at least 1000 gallons to produce 1 pound of beef protein. And where cows require 10 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of protein, crickets require only two pounds. When it comes to waste, crickets win hands down by producing 80 times less methane than cattle, a potent greenhouse gas. To top things off, crickets do this all very comfortably in small, confined spaces. In fact, various species of cricket actually thrive in high-density settings. Some bugs like it cozy I guess.
Of course all bets are off if cricket products fail the palatability test. So, how does Hopper Crunch perform? Hopper kindly sent me all three flavors of their granola: Toasted Coconut, Cranberry & Almond and Cacao & Cayenne. The granola looks exactly like you would expect and contains traditional ingredients such as nuts and seeds, dried fruit and coconut. There was not a cricket leg or antenna in sight and I found all three flavors to be both pleasingly chewy and crunchy and to have excellent flavor overall.
Packing some heat with every mouthful, as well as some chocolaty goodness, the Cacao and Cayenne is really yummy and definitely my personal favorite. Next, the Toasted Coconut is emboldened with the spicy brightness of ginger, which really shines in the flavor profile. Finally, the Cranberry and Almond is all about simplicity. It’s mild and tasty.
The folks at Hopper Foods have made it their mission to make eating bugs a normal part of the Western table because it’s healthy for humans and good for the planet. And let’s face it, Westerners are late to the party when comes to entomophagy. Eighty percent of the world’s population eats bugs as a normal part of their diet. Is there anyone who shouldn’t eat crickets or cricket flour? Yes, those with allergies to other arthropods – invertebrate animals with exoskeletons, segmented bodies and jointed appendages such as lobster, shrimp and crab should not eat crickets or other insects.
You can find out more about crickets, cricket farming and cricket farming opportunities (the world needs more high quality cricket producers to meet growing demand!) and purchase all three flavors of Hopper Crunch at their online store on amazon.