Like it or not, the day’s coming when the “meat” you grab from the supermarket will be a big, juicy mound of ground-up of mealworm, cricket, or grasshopper powder.
And you’ll like it—if you know what’s good for you.
Scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland swear that the new ground bug meal they’ve developed has the perfect structure and flavor for mixing into other foods to pump up the protein—we’re talking tripling it—without adding fat or carbs. The novel culinary additive was created using a special technique to grind the insects into different degrees of coarseness, allowing for varying sizes of bug skin, or “chitin” that can top 80% protein and is extremely effective at binding fat and water, making it the perfect base for enhancing foods like meatballs and falafel.
In fact, the researchers whipped up some falafel balls using 18% insect meal, and ended up with a dish with three times as much protein.
Does it “taste like chicken?” Not exactly—though it is being touted as having “superior flavor and mouth feel,” a definite improvement over past bug meals. As the press release explains, previous versions of bug meal contain “small amounts of the insect chitin shell, which tends to feel rough on the tongue and have a strong meat-like taste, while coarse fractions are milder in flavor.”
The earlier, less refined bug meal is already being sold in limited spots in the U.S., but is way popular in European countries. Expect it to show up increasingly on American shores, however, as the trend gathers momentum.
And don’t bug out (sorry, terrible pun) if you find it soon in the ingredients list of your favorite whey protein shake. If it helps build muscle and doesn’t taste too bad, who cares where it comes from?