Yesterday I wrote about my plans to try some insect based foods over the summer. If your first reaction was ‘never!’, then you are not alone. That’s what most readers will have thought, I expect.
But insects are not going to enter the Western diet as insects. If it looks like a bug, there’s a big psychological barrier to overcome – especially if it’s whole. In Britain we’re not really used to eating anything whole, as I’ve observed at Tapas bars when English friends are confronted with pescaditos fritos.
Insects are going to creep into our diets as an ingredient first, and that makes the energy bars from Sens a good place to start. They use cricket flour as the basis for their snack bars, alongside other all-natural ingredients.
The company has designed these to be an easy way into eating insects. “We want to make insect eating the new normal” they say, and they’re a company on a mission to popularise insects and change the culture around eating them. Their challenge is to create an appealing, tasty and healthy product that just happens to include insects. It says ‘made with cricket flour’ on the packet, but it’s not shouting about it.
Sens began with a Kickstarter campaign last year, and delivered their first snack bars this spring. They were kind enough to send me some samples – two energy bars, and two protein bars. So what are they like?
There are two flavours here, dark chocolate and orange, and pineapple and coconut. I start with the first, and there’s a lovely smell as you open it, thanks to the orange peel and essential oil. The bar itself is dark and rich, speckled with tiny pieces of cashew nuts. It reminds me a little of the Nakd bars, but drier and more crumbly. It was very popular with both kids and even my wife begrudgingly admitted that it was very tasty.
The pineapple and coconut is also a hit, with lots of fruit and a pleasantly gummy texture. So that’s a win: insects successfully consumed by the whole family. As my wife commented, you wouldn’t know you were eating insects unless someone told you.
Here we have a peanut butter and cinnamon bar, and a dark chocolate and sesame. I’m a sucker for anything with peanut butter, so I try that one first. There’s a nice cinnamon flavour and it’s certainly nutty, but this is too dry, almost dusty. The second bar is a little better. I like my chocolate dark and the sesame seeds break up the bar and make it less cloying, but I can’t say I would eat these again. Neither would the kids, who aren’t keen – but then this isn’t a kids product, it’s a protein bar. As Sens say on their website, “if you’re looking for sweets, buy a Kit Kat.”
Since I don’t really have any experience of protein bars, I’m not going to be the best judge of this particular product. Perhaps this texture is normal for a protein bar? It’s certainly got plenty in there. Each of the protein bars is 20% cricket flour, though again, you wouldn’t know that unless you read it on the packet. There is no discernible cricket flavour, and it’s a good demonstration of the nutritional benefits of insects.
In summary then, the energy bars are a success, and I’ll stick with those rather than the protein bars. The ‘ick’ factor of the Sens bars is low, and everyone in the family ate them. Would we eat them again? Quite possibly. I don’t know if we liked them more than other energy or snack bars that we might eat while out and about, so they’re probably not going to be a regular purchase. Sens are definitely onto something though, and I hope they find a market for their products.
You can buy Sens bars directly from Sens through their online shop.