Recently I was given an opportunity to test a true Paleo product – an energy bar made with insects. I got acquainted with guys from star-up company ZOIC BAR via Facebook. Apparently they noticed my “pro Paleo position” and my sport endurance background. So they sent me 3 pre-production samples of their energy bars made from insects to try them out. (full disclosure: the energy bars were provided free of charge by the ZOIC and I had full control of what I was going to do with them. This post has not been paid for.)
Entomophagy = eating insects
I first got acquainted with entomophagy (i.e. eating insects) when studying the field of nutrition and healthy lifestyle from a more ancestral evolutionary perspective. Or from Paleo perspective, if you want a more marketing flavored term. Especially when reading about various foods consumed by hunter gatherers, there were always some minor notes of insect consumption. But mostly in the ending paragraphs, so entomophagy didn’t flew on my radar. I (wrongly) deemed it as a primitive practice, although I was aware that consumption of insects is common nowadays, albeit in less developed third world countries.
The other time I came across eating insects was in the light of sustainable food production. As the modern large scale agriculture model is not sustainable in the long term with respect to finite resources, raising insects was often proposed as one of solutions. Insects are far more efficient that traditional livestock (i.e. poultry, swine and beef) in converting feed into proteins. Also, they are more environmentally friendly by consuming less water and emitting virtually no greenhouse gasses. And by being highly nutritious food, they began to look like a possible option for me as well.
It was right about then when I first heard of the promising ZOIC startup. Or BuzzMade, as they were called back then. Their mealworm flour just got an award for best realization of start-up idea so I became even more attentive on the field of entomophagy, studying it into greater detail.
ZOIC energy bars
Fast forward a couple of months, and there was a package waiting for me at the post office. The guys from ZOIC sent me 3 pre-production samples of their energy bars, differing only in their flavor. They are made from 4 ingredients:
- mealworm flour – highly nutritious protein source with excellent essential amino acid profile,
- cashew nuts – source of fats,
- dates – source of carbohydrates,
- and cocoa – for antioxidants and for taste.
Hence sugar / GMO / soy / dairy / egg free without any food additives. The three different tastes were cocoa, tarragon and lavender. While all three tasted great, I was sold by the tarragon flavour. It sure brought back all those fond memories of my mother’s traditional Slovenian tarragon cake. Really a nice flavor and one you wouldn’t expect in any traditional energy bar. That is not to say that the cocoa and lavender flavors were not good, just that tarragon really struck well with my tasting buds. And since you might wonder how insects taste like? I didn’t get the chance to taste the mealworm flour, but they say it has a nutty flavor to it. Which blends really well in the ZOIC bar.
You can support this promising start-up project by ordering the ZOIC bars in cocoa taste in advance on their webpage. First deliveries are expected before the end of 2015.