Edible insects: Our verdict on crunchy roasted crickets

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Becky eating a cricketImage source, Phil Coomes

Sainsbury's says it is the first UK supermarket to stock edible insects, and packets of Eat Grub's smoky BBQ crunchy roasted crickets will be sold in 250 stores across the country from this week.

BBC News' Becky Morton drew the short straw...

As I put my hand into a packet of crickets with their tiny eyes and legs, the idea of one going in my mouth made me feel a little sick.

But the first bite was a pleasant surprise. A little dry and bland, but at least a wing didn't get stuck in my throat.

The smoky barbeque seasoning largely overpowered any other flavour although there was a slightly bitter aftertaste.

The manufacturer markets the snack as "more sustainable than pork scratchings" and "more exciting than a crisp". However, sadly I'm not convinced it is as tasty.

Image source, Phil Coomes
Image caption,
Eat Grub say their edible crickets are a sustainable source of protein

The texture was crunchy but a bit sawdust-like and smelt a little of cat food.

And it was difficult to get over the fact that it does definitely look like a cricket. I have to admit I didn't have any desire to finish the packet.

Eat Grub also recommends the crickets as a garnish for noodles, soups and salads.

I can see how this could work as a crunchy topping to a dish but on its own it lacks a bit of punch.

And at £1.50 for just 12g of sustenance, I'd also feel a bit short-changed buying this, although the company says it is packed full of nutrients.

Eat Grub says that gram-for-gram its dried crickets contain more protein than beef, chicken and pork, as well as minerals like iron and calcium.

Sainsbury's insist this is no gimmick - and could be a new sustainable source of protein.

And they are not the only ones. Retailers including Fortnum & Mason, Planet Organic and Selfridges have also started stocking edible bugs.

A 2013 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation found that eating insects could even help fight world hunger and reduce pollution.

Unlike the production of meat, bugs do not use up large amounts of land, water or feed, and insect farming also produces far fewer greenhouse gases.

Image source, Phil Coomes

However the report noted that despite two billion people worldwide already supplementing their diet with insects, "consumer disgust" remains a large barrier in many Western countries.

In some parts of the world certain insects are considered delicacies but here in the UK we still have a long way to go.

I'm not sure bugs will become a go-to snack anytime soon. But as a fun way of raising awareness about sustainable eating, edible insects are definitely food for thought.