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We Tried Bug Bread!

Cricket bread by Fazer. Picture: Fazer

Iattended the FinnBrit (Finnish-British Society) quiz in Helsinki and contributed a loaf of Sirkkaleipä towards the refreshments. The slices of bread, spread lightly with butter, were eaten with enthusiasm. The verdicts: “It tastes like . . . like bread.” “It’s really nice bread.” “You can’t tell there’s insects.” And even the person with a wheat allergy tried some saying, “it’s yummy and it’ll be worth the itching tomorrow.”

In European and other Western countries, there has been a centuries-long prejudice about eating insects. Whereas in some parts of the world it is commonplace and insects can be a great delicacy. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), edible insects contain high-quality protein, vitamins and amino acids ideal for humans.

Insects have a high food conversion rate, for example crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Another advantage, the insects can be grown on organic waste. With an ever-expanding world population and limited resources, it makes sense to grow more insects for food.

The Finnish Government relaxed the ban on the sale of insects on November first this year and Fazer, the food manufacturer, quickly took advantage by producing the world’s first insect bread. They had been developing the insect bread since last summer, and are using their in-store bakeries to trial the sale of the new bread. Unfortunately, there are not yet enough supplies of locally grown edible crickets to launch the bread nationwide and only certain supermarkets in the capital region stock it.

One loaf of Cricket Bread (Sirkkaleipä in Finnish) contains about 70 crickets, they are dried, ground up and mixed into the wheat flour. Crickets are very light and only make up three percent of the weight of the bread. However, they contribute five percent protein and also vitamins and minerals.

The loaf was promptly consumed. Another loaf was sampled at a party the following day.  All the food was excellent and those that tried the bread were positive, although one friend had a panic after discovering it contained insects. He was concerned that he may have given a slice to his vegetarian daughter. Then we discovered the debate about whether vegans and vegetarians can eat insects. Apparently, some scientific studies have shown insects don’t feel pain and are different to other sentient animals and so can be eaten without suffering. Unconvinced vegans say no to insect-eating because they are animals.

Based on my limited research the Cricket Bread seems popular, in demand, and Fazer is happy to ride the fashionable interest in eating insects. At nearly four euros per 250g loaf, it’s certainly a premium price for tasty bread with a boost.

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