“The edible insect revolution is served” say Bugsolutely, and in week two in my series on insect based foods, I’m serving up their pasta. There are a couple of different cricket pastas on the market, but Bugsolutely were the first and I wanted to try it. The company are based in Thailand and it’s not actually available in Britain right now, but I got in touch and I was in luck: they have a UK agent with some samples, and they happen to be based in Luton.
Here it is, packed in a box that gives it a premium quality feel. And so it should. The man behind it is an Italian, Massimo Reverberi. The list of ingredients shows durum wheat, and 20% cricket flour. It’s that 20% that makes it special, because cricket flour is packed with high quality protein, as well as calcium, iron and vitamins. It has all the goodness of the cheese or meat that you might normally serve with pasta, with a fraction of the environmental impact.
Cultures that eat crickets have known this all along, of course. Cultures such as Thailand, where there are an estimated 20,000 commercial cricket farmers – more than anywhere else in the world. Consequently, cricket flour is much cheaper in Thailand than elsewhere, and that’s why Bugsolutely are based there. Standards are high, it’s a growth industry, and the country is better placed than anyone else to respond to rising demand for insect protein from the Western world.
One really useful aspect of this rising demand is that cricket farming is not a capital intensive business. Families can get set up relatively easily, and a growing number of smallholders are taking it up. This is a growth market that the rural poor can benefit from. It pays well, and small village cooperatives are forming as people discover the benefits and share their learning with neighbours. Research suggests that insect farming could play a real role in rural sustainable development in Thailand – more reasons to enjoy some cricket pasta.
Now, back to the pasta itself.
It looks normal. It cooks normal, with a slightly different smell to the regular pasta that is cooking next to it, in case the family object. I serve it up with a chili and wait to see what everybody makes of it. “Mmm”, goes Zach, but he came with me to pick it up and is very excited about it already. Eden likes it too. “This is actually really nice” says Lou. Plates are cleared. Both kids have seconds.
So that’s another success. If you were to serve this to someone and not mention anything, they would probably assume it’s wholewheat pasta, but it is it’s own thing. There’s a pleasant and subtle earthiness to it, with more flavour than the normal pasta. There’s a lot you could do with it. If it was readily available, I’d want to experiment with different things that might complement it. I’ve got half a packet left, and I’m thinking goat’s cheese and grated beetroot from the garden, dressed as a salad.
In summary, we like the cricket pasta. When it’s available in the supermarkets – and that is a when, not an if – I’d happily buy it and serve it regularly.
Where can you get hold of it? Check out the website to see if it’s available where you are. If not, go and bug your favourite grocer to start stocking it.