A Protein Powder Made From Insects, an Underestimated Superfood
How do you like your insects prepared? For many in the Western world, this question is likely met with a knitted brow. Despite the more than two billion people worldwide who eat them regularly, consuming insects, or entomophagy, hasn’t yet entered the culinary mainstream in the United States and in most of Europe. Friends Alejandra Fernandez and Danielle Petricevic, hailing from Mexico and South Korea—both countries where insects feature in the average diet—respectively, quickly noticed the absence of bugs as food upon moving to London, where they both currently reside. This past fall, in an effort to introduce the ingredient to Western fare in an approachable and tasty way, as well as to inform consumers of the food’s social and environmental benefits, they co-founded Ento Collective, a health food company with offerings that center around the widely underestimated superfood and protein source.
The advantages of eating insects are many: Raising insects as food requires a fraction of water, land, and feed compared to traditional livestock. (There are also disadvantages to consider, too.) According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), insects, which are cold-blooded, are more efficient than most other animals at converting their food to body mass. They produce 10 to 100 times less greenhouse gas emission per kilogram of food than pigs (and even less when it comes to cows, which emit more than pigs). And the tiny organisms are highly nutritious, containing more protein per kilogram than beef, chicken, eggs, soy, lentils, or beans.
Ento’s inaugural product, Ento Cacao, is a low-calorie protein blend made of mealworm powder and pea and brown rice protein, and is enhanced with cacao powder for flavor. Mealworms—which, in addition to crickets and grasshoppers, are the only insects allowed to be sold for human consumption in Europe—impart a mild, nutty flavor to the drink mix, while the cacao provides a punch of sweetness. The powder’s array of healthful elements include magnesium, which plays a key role in heart and brain function; iron, which supports energy and immunity; and calcium, which strengthens bones. Vitamin B12 and omega fatty acids, meanwhile, support blood health and the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
To incorporate the chocolatey supplement into your daily routine, simply stir a few spoonfuls into chilled milk or water, shake, and enjoy. The powder can also be added to baked goods, such as brownie mix, for a boost of protein. And if anyone asks what the secret ingredient is … you can answer at your discretion.