- MOM’s Organic Market has introduced several products made with crickets and mealworms, including cricket cookies and mealworm Bolognese as well as a bulk selection of insects, according to The Shelby Report.
- Inspired by a tasting trip to Mexico’s La Merced Market, MOM’s began stocking what it calls “sustainable protein” at three locations. It just introduced the selection to its Ivy City store in D.C.
- “Not only are items containing insects incredibly nutritious, they can also have a positive impact on our global food supply,” MOM’s VP of Produce and Grocery Lisa de Lima said in a press release. “Insects release fewer greenhouse gases than livestock and require a lot less space and water to raise.”
MOM’s Organic Market is about as green and healthful as retailers come, and their faithful shoppers will go to great lengths to better both their health and the environmental. But even the crunchiest retailers face a hard sell with insects.
A recent Swiss study found that participants had trouble even imagining eating snacks made from crickets. Researchers listed four dishes of varying degrees of cricket-ness — tortilla chips made from cricket flour, tortilla chips with cricket pieces baked in, tortilla chips with fried cricket pieces on top, and whole fried crickets — and told participants to imagine eating each snack. Their reactions were then recorded. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered “a large emotional barrier” that squashed enthusiasm for the snacks.
But here’s what’s interesting: The researchers found that the more processed the cricket dishes were, the more willing people were to try them. The favorite choice from the study, hands down, was the cricket flour chips.
This could be useful knowledge for food companies and retailers. Getting past the "ick" factor, in other words, may mean emphasizing products that mask the texture and appearance of the insects they contain. If people like cricket flour cookies — one of the products Mom’s is selling — then they might step up to cricket spaghetti sauce, and then bulk crickets, and so on.
If it seems odd to be reading tips on how to merchandise insects, that’s because they offer benefits that may overcome their stomach-churning qualities. Study after study has confirmed that insects are highly nutritious, abundantly available, and require scant resources to produce. With the world’s population expected to increase by an additional 2 billion people over the next 30 years, insects may be the best way to efficiently feed everyone.
They’re also apparently quite tasty, as two MOM’s executives found when they sampled various flavors of escamoles. Translation: ant larvae.