Swarming with insect protein…

Bill went to the store earlier to get some provisions for the weekend. While he was there, he noticed an interesting product for sale– protein bars made of insect protein. He said, “I think I have a potential blog post for you.” as he held up what turned out to be two protein bars made by a Cologne based company called Swarm. What made them so special? They’re made of crickets… (do I hear crickets now? Shocking!)

Swarm bars come in three flavors: Raw Cocoa, Red Berries, and Chia Hazelnut. Bill brought home one each of the Red Berry and Raw Cocoa bars. He’s already tasted the Raw Cocoa bar and says it’s kind of crunchy… which somehow doesn’t surprise me.

Why would a person want to eat a protein bar made of crickets? Because insects are nutritious. They are a great alternative source of protein, since they contain all essential amino acids and many important micronutrients like vitamin B12, zinc and iron.

It’s also more environmentally friendly to use insects as a protein source, and Germans are famously environmentally conscious. It’s illegal to kill bees here, for instance, and you won’t find a lot of pesticides for sale. Although there are plenty of farms and lots of natural fertilizers used in Germany (and believe me, the nose knows this, especially in rural areas), Swarm Bars are made from crickets from Thailand, among other natural ingredients. The crickets use fewer resources to process than more traditional protein sources from animals need. Compared to cattle, crickets only need 8% of the feed, 2% of the water, and they produce almost no greenhouse gases.

Swarm is a very new product, as in it’s only been available to the public for a very short time. Reading the company’s “About Us” page, translated by Google Chrome, I learned that in 2015, company founders Christopher Zeppenfeld and Timo Bäcker went to Thailand to eat insects. They had the goal of introducing them to the Western diet. The two guys bought a couple of motorcycles and traveled around Southeast Asia, tasting as many edible insects as they could. They had become accustomed to eating insects and realized they could turn their new interest into a business… if they could get Europeans and probably eventually Americans to take to the idea of eating bugs.

Christopher and Timo came back to Germany, teamed up with an expert in sports and nutrition named Dani, and started working on developing their protein bars made with Thai crickets. They launched a crowdfunding project and got cooperation from the University of Cologne, and voila, a new product was born! Here’s a review in German by some people who had the chance to try Swarm before it was made available at our local and newly remodeled Rewe.

I must admit that I didn’t try the bars, which are made with cricket flour, oatmeal, linseed flour, dates raisins, agave syrup, pear juice concentrate, and honey. I watched Bill eat half of one. He enjoyed it, although he only ate half because he didn’t know if maybe he’d be allergic to crickets. I think it’s safe to say that Bill can safely eat and even enjoy products made from cricket flour.

Here are some photos from his taste test… he definitely enjoyed himself.

Will I try a Swarm Bar? Maybe if I have enough German courage. Actually, I don’t really enjoy protein bars much, even if they aren’t made of crickets. I’d rather eat chocolate, and unfortunately, it shows. Here’s the link to Swarm’s Facebook page if you want to know more.