The Technical Research Center in Finland has developed a technology for turning crickets and meal worms into food ingredients that can be used to make meatballs or falafel, for example. Due to different tastes, structure (depending on the grinding), the powder can become a full-fledged ingredient for many recipes. While the development is awaiting the approval of the EU, the decision of which will determine whether insects will be raised for the food industry and whether the opportunity will open for new profitable business investments.
The center has developed a dry fractionation method that allows you to create insect powders with different tastes, and the different coarseness of grinding determines the structure of the powder: if it is finely ground, the powder containing small pieces of chitin will have a pronounced meat taste, and if you use coarse grinding, the taste will be softer, and chitin pieces - more.
First, insects are prepared for processing, removing fat from them, so the product is very rich in protein (80%). Meatballs were prepared from this powder, the composition of which was changed and 18% of the tested products were added. As a result. Even such an additive powder increased the protein content three times.
Sat in the grass ... source of protein
More recently, the European Union banned the sale of insects as food, but when the UN talked about insects as the food of the future, Europe decided to change the legislation.
In 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization recognized insects as the food of the future. According to the organization, at least two billion people in the world already eat such food, using more than 1900 insect species as food. According to experts, in the EU crickets, mealworms, flies, bloodworms and locusts can be claimed as food.
What are the main arguments of the advocates of “microclotting”? First of all, they talk about reducing environmental damage. Insects feed on biowaste, grow and multiply rapidly, consume little water, live in small boxes, and produce less greenhouse gases — not to compare with the waste of the traditional livestock industry.
Secondly, the new diet is not just more environmentally friendly, but also nutritious - insects are considered one of the best sources of protein on the planet. Take the same crickets - flour from them for 70% consists of protein. In addition, insects can add to the diet an additional portion of dietary fiber and vitamins.
The production of animal protein leads to devastating consequences: in Central America alone, cattle breeding has caused the loss of 40% of forests.
After examining all the facts, including the risks, the EU countries began one after another to allow the sale and cultivation of insects as foodstuffs.
Risks of the "cricket" diet
Three EU Member States - Belgium, the Netherlands and France - assessed the possible risks of eating insects. The EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also published its own report. Experts compared the potential risks of eating insect protein with the risks from animal protein, assessing the biological, chemical, environmental hazards and allergenicity. The researchers concluded that the level of danger depends on the methods of producing products from insects. If you adhere to strict requirements in the cultivation and production of products, the risk of eating insects will be similar to the risk of eating other sources of protein.
The risk of the appearance of proteins with an abnormal structure (prions) that can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans will be the same or lower if it were about eating animal protein.
Finns, confident that they will be able to control the production and sale of insects in their own country, after Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands, at the end of last year lifted the ban on the cultivation and sale of insects for human consumption. Supervision is handled by the Food Safety Agency of Finland.
As soon as this happened, farms in Finland began to open up insects, and products like crackers with ground crickets and snacks made from whole grasshoppers with spices appeared in the shops. Yes, what is there! Meals with flour worms and other crisp animals are now served even on Viking Line ferries.
Fazer also picked up the trend, releasing Fazer Sirkkaleipä cricket bread (with fin. sirkka - cricket, leipä - bread). As a lover of crisp bread from it, I decided to begin my acquaintance with the food of the future. And so it happened that the acquaintance took place right at the production of Fazer.
And how does it taste?
We met with Inari Marttinen, the chief marketing and marketing manager for the new Fazer Bakery products, at the Fazer factory in Vantaa, a suburb of Helsinki, where the scent of cinnamon rolls in the air. I can not imagine what willpower you need to have to work here! In the same place, Maxim and I first tried bread with crickets.
Immediately say about taste. It all turned out like I love: fresh, tasty bread with a crispy crust and seeds, which is no different from the usual. I admit, did not expect!
When I asked why they chose crickets, Inari replied that crickets are cute and do not cause such disgust as, for example, worms or flies. In addition, crickets are easier to grow, they grow faster and contain nutrients: fatty acids, calcium, iron and even vitamin B12.
At first, Fazer bought cricket flour in the Netherlands, but when cricket farms began to appear in Finland, the company switched to local raw materials. By the way, for this reason, now Fazer cricket bread is baked only in three bakeries, although they started from eleven - all because there is not enough flour. Although there are many local cricket farms, they are too small and cannot satisfy the demand of such a giant as Fazer. Nevertheless, the company refused to buy from abroad, because they want to be sure of the safety of raw materials, are ready to support local producers and help create jobs.
70 crickets per loaf
Maxim and I tried the cricket bread, but we still decided to go to the bakery at the supermarket — to see with our own eyes how it was cooked.
The Fazer bakery nearest to our house, where they make bread with crickets, was very close - in a supermarket on the first floor of the Kamppi shopping complex right in the center of Helsinki. According to Inari, the first loaves with crickets in November 2017 diverged within an hour, and there were much more people willing to buy than bread. Now the demand has subsided, but the bread is still well dismantled. Here you can even buy warm cricket bread - if you follow the baking schedule, which hangs on the wall at the bakery. Bread is easily calculated from the pretty green packaging and the stand with the image of a large green cricket.
Cricket bread is baked in the same way as usual, but crickets and seeds, ground into flour, are simply added to traditional wheat flour. Each loaf weighing 250 grams contains approximately 70 crickets. Well, since they are very light, they make up only three percent of the weight of bread. No more deliberately added, otherwise the dough will crumble. Bread is baked in a separate area so that cricket flour does not accidentally get into other products - so the Finns are reinsured because they want to avoid lawsuits from consumers who are not yet ready to eat insects or cannot do so for medical reasons.
Bread with cricket flour contains more protein than regular wheat bread. In one bun weighing 250 g - 11 g of protein, of which 5 g is sverchkovy protein.
It costs one roll of 3.90 euros for 250 g. For the same money, you can buy ordinary bread, which will weigh twice as much. Inari explains the difference in price by the high cost of cricket flour. It is possible that in the future it will decrease - provided that the raw material becomes more and it becomes cheaper. In the meantime, bread is in demand mainly from people concerned about environmental issues.
Is there or not?
I thought I thought how to answer this question ... Bread is delicious, so why not? Moreover, I eat it not so often as to go broke, buying a four-euro loaf. But I'm not ready for granola with flour worms yet, even for reasons of environmental protection.
Nevertheless, the fact remains: the population of the planet is growing, natural resources are being depleted, which means that sooner or later we will have to look for an alternative to the same animal squirrel. Will insects be such an alternative? We'll see!
Thanks to the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg for assistance in preparing the material.
Hello! I am Nastya, a journalist and ecobloger. Improving my life through ecology and getting you started. I tell about an eco-friendly life easily, interestingly, with brains and without fanaticism.
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Protein powder made from flour worms created in Finland
Specialists at the VTT Technical Research Center in Finland have developed food ingredients from crickets and mealworms. Their structure and taste are quite suitable for cooking meatballs or falafel. If the development is approved by the EU, then insect breeding for the food industry can become a new profitable business. The development is reported on the site. of the company.
The VTT method of dry fractionation allows producing powders from insects with different tastes and different coarseness of grinding: with smaller powder it will contain small pieces of chitin and have a pronounced taste of meat, with a coarse taste will be softer, and pieces of chitin will be more.
Fat is removed from insects before treatment. Thus, the final product contains up to 80% protein. The powder was tested by replacing 5-18% of the ingredients of meatballs and falafel. Even a small addition of insect powder to falafel increased its protein content threefold.
Iceland banned cricket bars
picture alliance / Arco Images G / DPA / TASS
Icelandic authorities have banned the sale of cricket flour energy bars, reports TASS. This happened just a week after Crowbar Protein, founded in 2014 by two natives of Iceland, began selling its unique product on the local market. Now it had to withdraw the first batch of bars from Icelandic stores.
This situation has arisen because of the EU regulations, according to which the sale of food products, which include exotic components of animal origin, such as flour from crickets, requires permission from the European Commission.
At the end of October, compliance with this norm became mandatory on the territory of the island state, although Iceland is not part of the European Union. The founders of the company, however, did not suspect this and said in an interview with the Morgunbladid newspaper that they had already submitted documents to the competent authorities and are now waiting for permission from the authorities.
About protein bars "Jungle Bar" became known after Icelandic designer Bui Adalsteynsson and marketing specialist Stefan Toroddsen last year began to raise funds on the Kickstarter website to create a unique sports nutrition from insects. They received nearly 28 thousand dollars from users who approved their project.
The recipe of the bars is simple: dates, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, sesame, chocolate and cricket flour, which is a good source of protein and trace elements. A 50-gram bar contains 8 grams of protein or 200 kilocalories - almost 15 percent of the daily requirement for an adult.
Icelandic businessmen claim that the bar with the addition of cricket flour is not only tasty and healthy, but also contributes to the protection of the environment. To get 1 kilogram of protein from crickets requires only 1.7 kilograms of feed and 8 liters of water. To get the same amount from cows, you need 10 kilograms of feed and 8.3 thousand liters of water.
Icelanders admit that the idea of eating insects so far causes rejection in the West, although in Asia it does not surprise anyone. “To sell the unsalable is a challenge for every marketer, and it’s certainly not easy to sell our product,” said Tordodsen of Icelandic magazine Reykjavik Grapevine. “Food culture is very conservative — after all, you have to convince a person to put something in his mouth. However to take on this business ultimately convinced us that our product turned out to be really palatable. And this is the main thing for such a business. "
The production of bars in Iceland itself has not yet succeeded, so the crickets, which are processed into food flour, are grown in Canada, where the factory that produces the final product is located.
Adalsteynsson and Toroddsen argue that many European networks of healthy food stores are interested in their idea, and business can go up the hill. In the meantime, the lucky ones who managed to buy them in Icelandic stores, as well as from 625 sponsors of the project, to whom the chocolates were sent by mail, have a chance to check whether the cricket bars really taste so good.