By Fabiana Santana
Last year, a team of students at McGill University won the 2013 Hult Prize, and a $1 million dollar start up prize, for their insect-based business pitch. Power Flour, they say, will feed millions of malnourished around the world.
“It’s a huge deal because we had a very ambitious but highly executable five-year plan in place,” said team captain Mohammed Ashour, whose team hails from McGill University in Montreal. “So winning this prize is a great step in that direction.”
Since the kinds of insects people consume from country to country varies, think weevils in, caterpillars in Botswana, caterpillars, Power Flour will vary ingredients according to the breeding cycles and nutritional profile of each culture.
Shark Tank fans might remember an energy bar called Chapul. The Original Cricket Bar is made with protein from cricket flour. “For centuries, human civilizations have rightly considered insects an excellent, plentiful and resource-efficient source of protein,” the brand says. “Even today, 80 percent of the world’s people regularly munch edible insects as part of their normal diets – chapulines in Mexico, stir-fried red tree ants in Cambodia, inago (grasshoppers) and hachinoko (bee larvae) in Japan and casu marzu in Italy. And with good reason &mdash eating insects provides an incredibly rich source of protein, iron and omega-3 acids and are very low in cholesterols and fat.” Flavor varieties of the Chapul bar range from dark chocolate, peanut butter and coconut. All with cricket flour as the main ingredient.
Julian Medina would testify to that fact. The chef runs and operates Manhattan’s popular Toloache, Toloache 50 and Toloache Thompson restaurants. “Yes grasshoppers in Mexico are consider a snack, you can eat them in a taco, quesadilla, or however you prefer, you grow up eating the bugs, at least I did!”
Medina wanted to bring a bit of his heritage to the Toloache menus. So, he developed a recipe for grasshopper tacos. “Because I grew up eating them, so I though that New Yorkers should be able to taste what I grew up with, plus as a Mexican I want to give my customers authentic flavors of Mexico.”
The grasshoppers, he says, are full of proten and 100 percent organic. And while there is no set way to cook them, he likens them to a popular American snack.
“In Mexico we don’t have a rule how to prepare them, people just fry them with chiles and garlic and you eat them as a popcorn, you can sprinkle on a Tlayuda or quesadilla, at Toloache I make a taco, I sautéed them with jalapeños and onion, guacamole and salsa verde with handmade corn tortillas.”
What do you think? Would you ever eat insects?