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“SMALL GIANTS” AND CRICKET CRACKERS 

csmonitor.com

Spicing up the snacking world with their cricket cracker bites are Small Giants, the sustainable food start-up “making the weird wonderful”! With low emissions and outstanding nutritional value, crickets may very well be the “superfood” of the future…

Words By Marine Bochsler

02/12/2020

“Mmmm… Can’t wait to get my chops on those crunchy, cracking grasshoppers…” said no one ever. It’s safe to assume that sinking your teeth into a juicy mealworm is probably not one’s idea of a tasty snack. But what if we told you otherwise? What if we told you insects could be enjoyed as much as the next Pringle?

 Enter Small Giants, the food start-up breaking taboos with their cricket crackers. Hitting supermarket shelves just a few weeks ago, these snacks blend cricket flour with a selection of herbs and spices for a savoury treat. Acknowledging the resistance they might face in introducing insects to consumers, founders of the snacking brand, Francesco Majno and Edoardo Imparato, created a product that everyone knows and loves – crackers.

eatsmallgiants.com

But why are we so irked by the thought of eating these little critters? After all, insects have been a natural, and even favoured, part of the human diet throughout history. Beetle larvae raised on flour and wine was considered a delicacy for Roman aristocrats, as were egg-filled cicadas for the Greeks. Today, entomophagy – the technical term for eating insects – remains widespread in most cultures around the world. For Westerner’s though, the palatability of insects seems to have been lost in translation.

 Ambrosia aside, insects are extraordinarily beneficial from both health and environmental stand-points. Even the global Food and Agriculture Organization are advocating the introduction of bugs into our diets. Crickets, Small Giant’s nutritional weapon of choice, have an astounding protein content of up to 75%, compared to 27% in chicken, and 19% in soybeans. As a ‘complete protein’, they offer the whole spectrum of essential amino acids required for the human body to function. Additionally, these crackers are packed with vitamin B12, the “powerhouse” of vitamins that is fundamental for a healthy brain and immune system.

From a sustainability perspective, these crackers are a no brainer. “At the moment, we have a big problem with our food system and this will only get worse in the future,” says Francesco. Our current diets rely heavily on meat, a highly land-intensive and energetically inefficient source of food. With the human population expected to rise by two billion people by 2050, this scale of meat consumption is far from being sustainable.

Insects, on the other hand, are a whole other ball game. “They are very easy to farm and only use a fraction of the resources that other animals need, if you consider water, energy, food, land…” Francesco explains. “They can even be farmed vertically, so you can cultivate them almost anywhere, even in cities,” he continues. In terms of emissions, crickets produce less than 0.1% of the greenhouse gases that cows produce. Ultimately, insects present a good ratio between the resources required, the environmental impact, and the nutrition gained, compared to other animals. 

For the time being, Small Giants want to keep their focus on savoury snacks. Having already won two ‘Great Taste’ awards with their Rosemary & Thyme and Turmeric & Paprika cracker bites, they clearly have it down in that department. Francesco says they want to introduce gluten-free crackers, using corn instead of wheat flour, and experiment with more flavours. With their tasty cricket treats, the young snacking company is here to feed all the “planet-positive eaters” and do their bit to change the world.