Exo makes protein bars from ground-up crickets (in a flour to be exact). Their bars come in about eight different flavours, ranging from sweet to savoury. For instance, I purchased a four-pack that had banana bread, blueberry vanilla, cocoa nut and apple cinnamon.
The manufacturer says the product ticks many boxes: all natural, dairy free, gluten free, paleo friendly, and soya-free. Each bar contains 10g of protein. So, there you go – healthy on so many dimensions and unlikely to upset anyone with allergies, or diet restrictions.
So, what’s all the fuss about? Eating crickets may not be your idea of a good time but, let’s face it, as countries industrialise they get too much of their protein from meat. And the more meat we produce globally, the more problems we have to deal with in terms of damage to the environment. For example, the runoff from the animal manure into the soil can overwhelm the ecology and poison water systems, plus methane gas exuded from the animals can be another hazard to the environment, just to mention a few.
The fact is, we are approaching an unprecedented population explosion whereupon within a hundred years there will be more people alive in the world than the number of people who have ever born since the beginning of mankind. If we all want to eat meat all of the time, we are going to be living in misery, unless we learn to grow it in the lab (as Google tried to do).
There is no need to go to such lengths, however. Insects are plentiful and can be far more nutritious. We in the Western World need to get over our aversion to them as a food source. Frankly, Exoprotein is doing a great job of that. Their bars are reasonably tasty and nutritious (more on this, below).
I ate the banana bread one yesterday morning and the cocoa nut one today. At first, it didn’t seem like much. The bar wasn’t dry but pleasantly moist and a bit tacky. It wasn’t particularly sweet, either. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed. Still, it didn’t taste terrible. Slowly, over time, the aftertaste was really good. By the time I had finished the bar, I felt sated but look forward to the next one. I preferred the banana bread to the cocoa nut, though.
Yes, there is an aftertaste. To me, it’s minerally. To others… well, you just have to read the reviews to see how divided people are.
As for that aftertaste, most people seem quite happy with it and then there are a few who complain of a metallic or yucky aftertaste that puts them off. I suspect it may have something with each person’s DNA. For example, there are different taste receptors in people that determines whether they find broccoli sweet or bitter (I find it sweet, by the way, if that means anything here).
First off, I think we can all agree that these bars aren’t insanely delicious when you first bite into them. First off, they have gone for a mellower flavour that is less sweet than some of the other protein bars out there. Perhaps, if they made it sweet (like a strong cherry flavour), they could mask the taste better. However, it can grow on you, like it did for me, or it can turn you off. I liked it. Others don’t. All you can do is try it yourself.
The simplest thing to do is purchase the four-bar starter pack. If you browse the exoprotein website long enough, they often pop up a coupon. That’s a reasonable way to taste-test their basic flavours and find out what you think of cricket protein.
“Why crickets?” You may ask. The Exo site explains this with a simple graphic, which I am borrowing… (hope that’s okay)… In a nutshell, crickets contain more edible protein and nutrients by weight than other food sources we are familiar with and as insects they do not contribute to greenhouse gases like cattle.