Thai Company Marketing Cricket-Based Pasta


The concept of eating insects, or being able to buy consumer products made from insects, is hardly new. What is new – relatively new, anyway – is the exceptionally wide range of bug-based products in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, the Far East and elsewhere.

One of the latest players in this growing field is Thailand-based Bugsolutely, whose first product, Cricket Pasta, was launched late last year – mere months after this company was founded.

With crickets being 70% protein, that necessary dietary ingredient is, of course, a significant portion of Cricket Pasta’s volume. The company’s web site stresses, though, that this pasta also contains goodly amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and Omega 3 oil.

From a food production perspective, crickets are an excellent protein source because they require very little water. Not by coincidence, this and the fact they can be easily raised, in a ‘farm-like-way, makes crickets an excellent food source for creatures other than humans that humans, for whatever reason, keep and sustain as a ‘hobby’. (Such creatures include birds, fish and even other insects, many of which have, in captivity, been fed mealworms. However, “In recent times ( [the] past twenty years) the Common House Cricket has slowly emerged as a much better feeder insect since it is more digestible, easier to gutload and dust with nutrients and is more readily acceptable than the harder skinned mealworm,” says the Chameleon News website. (Who’d have imagined such a site would exist?)

Who, indeed, would have imagined that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations would produce, close to three years ago, a report entitled “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security?”

Well, not only did the FAO generate such a report, it has since been the inspiration for such unlikely studies as one at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where, Popular Science magazine reported last May, students Lucy Knops and Julie Plevin soberly set about coming up, in 2013, with something they called Critter Bitters, combining alcohol of several sorts – Bourbon, vodka, and neutral grain spirits – with carefully preserved remains of once-thriving crickets, then macerating the combinations – they did similar studies with other bugs, too – long enough for the latter to absorb and integrate the essence, as it were, of the former. The result? Something some people might take a fancy to drinking.

“The case needs to be made to consumers that eating insects is not only good for their health, it is good for the planet,” Knops and Plevin wrote in a paper on their project. They figured that while cricket-based bitters might not solve the food problem, the product could help overcome a psychological one.

“People are more open to trying new things when there are cocktails involved,” Plevin says.

People also seem inclined, and have been for eons, to try eating insects when they are slathered in chocolate. And why not? Both have nutritional value and can be said to be good for you – in appropriate doses, of course.

Fortune Magazine last August had a feature article that declared, “Insect eating is common in 80% of the world’s countries – but not in the U.S. or Europe. Now several entrepreneurs are working to bring the edible insect market to the U.S. and Europe.”

That article went on to note that an array or restaurants, including Toloache in New York City and Typhoon in Santa Monica CA, now offer assorted insect-based items on their menus – items such as grasshopper tacos (see 2nd column from right) and stir-fried silkworm pupae (right hand column, along with a selection of other insect-based offerings). offers a broad assortment of insect-based edibles, as does Amazon (and here).

Melanie Haiken reported in Forbes in July of 2014 how scientists and others involved in panel discussions at the Institute of Food Technologies meeting a month earlier declared that “insects are the food of the future.”

“Not only are they good for you,” she wrote, they’re a low-cost alternative to animal protein with far less impact on the environment.”

Ms Haiken went on:

“And we’re going to need new sources of protein,  because as time goes on there’s just not going to be enough meat to go around. Consider these startling stats:

  • 70 million: The number of people added to the planet’s population every year
  • 9 billion: The world population by 2050 as projected by current population growth rates
  • 70 percent: The percentage of agricultural land devoted to livestock production
  • 30 percent: The percentage of all the world’s land used to raise livestock

If you are really interested in this subject, as many people should be, that FAO report will be an eye-opener. It discusses, among other things, ‘farming’ insects, how available various ones are in several countries, examples of promising edible insect products for human consumption, and much, much more.

Taiwan’s New President-Elect May Ease Pork Growth Aid Ban

tsai ing-wen

Taiwan elected its first female head of state Saturday (Jan. 16), and based on her comments in a debate last month, Tsai Ing-wen could be prepared to ease her country’s stance on the import of U.S.-produced pork fed with an additive other candidates opposed.

During several years it was banned in Taiwan for use in beef cattle and swine, ractopamine, a chemical compound used to promote growth and leanness, could not be contained in either pork or beef (mainly steak) from the U.S. The ban on imports of ractopamine-enhanced beef was raised in 2012, and the continuing ban on the import of pork containing it was a major issue in the just-completed election campaign.

Of the three candidates for president, only pro-independence candidate Tsai Ing-wen suggested she’d favor reviewing (and possibly limiting or lifting) the ractopamine-in-ban “compare[d] with Japan and Korea’s experience.” Both those countries have, since 2012, had standards called Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) that effectively prohibit imports of beef or pork with above-the-maximum amounts of ractopamine residue.

An excellent explanation of what ractopamine is and how it works is available on the American Institute in Taiwan web site. It’s introduction notes that: “Ractopamine hydrochloride is a feed ingredient that helps increase the animals’ ability to efficiently turn what they eat into lean muscle rather than fat. This leads to reduced feed demand, less waste and higher quality and more affordable meat for consumers. The United States has approved the use of ractopamine in cattle since 2003. Major beef producing or importing countries, including Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and many others, have also determined that meat from animals fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption.

Ractopamine is sold under the brand name Optaflexx for use with cattle and Paylean for use with pigs.”

In her debate comments, Tsai Ing-wen noted that, “To ensure food safety, the source of all food should be made clear and rigorous examinations should be required.” Whether or not that statement – that concept – will move from campaign rhetoric to an altering of Taiwan’s position relative to ractopamine in imported pork remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: There is a better chance the ban will be reduced or lifted under her presidency than would have been the case if either of her opponents were elected.



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