Friday, October 30, 2015

Chocolate Covered Bugs: A Scary Halloween Treat

                                                                                        Allie Corvese and Sudeshna Yadav

Chocolate Covered Bugs: A Scary Halloween Treat

       Halloween is just a few days away and for all you chocoholics out there, it is the best time of the year. Chocolate is one of the most popular products on the market and there is hardly anyone who hasn’t been tempted at least once by the countless types of chocolates available. The top ten confectionary cocoa companies had total sales exceeding 82 billion dollars in 2014 according to the International Cocoa Organization and Halloween accounted for $217 million dollars, which was up 12 percent from the year before. Now that’s a lot of chocolate being consumed! Since chocolate is in such a high demand and with sales being at an all-time high, manufacturers are constantly adopting new combination of flavors and fillings. So if you really are a chocoholic, then you’d have no qualms about trying some of the most unusual types of chocolate out there in the market.
         Chocolate manufacturers have made some strange combinations including chocolate that tastes like curry, salt, absinthe and some chocolates covered with super fruits such as goji berries, cherries and acai. Moreover, Hershey has introduced Almond clusters with Sea Salt and boutique companies have begun adding more unique ingredients such as chia and quinoa.  But now with Halloween fast approaching, the online website Entomarket, Amazon ,   Candycrate has combined our favorite chocolatey treat with a frightfully fun Halloween surprise: Chocolate Covered Insects! These festive treats not only come in a variety of different flavors but also a variety of insects.                               
Now I know chocolate insects might seem like an unusual idea but chocolatiers have been pushing the envelope on new flavors trying to improve the nutrition, fun and overall appeal of their products. Al Nassma has developed chocolate with camel milk in the UAE and has claimed the camel milk lowers the content of fat making it healthier than traditional chocolate. Another innovative and fancier chocolate ingredient out in the market is black truffle chocolate, developed by Rick and Michael Mast, this chocolate is one of the most expensive and rarest foods on the market. It is comprised of 74% cocoa, a pinch of sea salt and black truffles, a prized mushroom which cost over $2000 a kilo. A more Americanized chocolate candy that has seen its way on the shelf is chocolate with bacon. The Chicago-based company Vosges Haut-Chocolate successfully managed to combine two of America's favorite products - bacon and chocolate, into a treat called "Mo's Bacon Bar". The milk and dark chocolate bars the company produces contain pieces of smoked bacon and grains of salt. Finally for a more adult treat, there is chocolate with absinthe a product of the Swiss company Villars which has been in existence for more than a century. While all of these products are unique, nothing screams Halloween spirit like creepy crawly bugs covered in chocolate.


What Bugs are on the Market Today?
Some of the variations that are on the market today include chocolate covered crickets, toasted crickets with chile and lime flavor, ant wafers, chocolate mealworms and more. The chocolate covered crickets are oven toasted crickets hand dipped in semisweet dark chocolate similarly with the chile and lime flavors which are great for people who are lactose intolerant or gluten free since they have no dairy, eggs or wheat. There are ant wafers which are made with real farm ants and coated in tasty chocolate giving it an extra crunch. Also many of these products are organic and the insects are farmed raised and fed natural diet which is similar to chicken feed but insects require far less feed. These products use no artificial colors or preservatives and are a safe alternative to many of the flavored chocolates on the market today.                   

The Nutritional Value of Eating Insects
   Along with being a fun treat, insects have many nutritional benefits as well.  A research team led by Xiaoming showed that insects are rich in protein (20-70 percent), fat (10-50 percent), carbohydrate (2-10 percent), mineral elements, vitamins and other activated elements that promote human health. Six commercially available types of insects had been tested and it was found that 100 grams of bugs (roughly 200 crickets) is actually packed with more protein, energy, calcium and vitamins than a 100 gram serving of chicken, steak, or other meat.  Edible insects also provide many vitamins which cannot be synthesized in the human body and therefore must be constantly supplied by food. Insects contain vitamin A, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6, D, E, K, and C. The bug Macrotermes annandalei Silvestri has a vitamin A content of  2 500 IU/100 gram, vitamin D content of 8 540 IU/100 gram, vitamin E content of 116.5 mg/100 gram and vitamin C content of 15.04 mg/100 gram. Edible insects are also rich in trace elements such as potassium, sodium, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese and phosphorus. Among which most of the edible insects have high calcium, zinc and iron content according to Hu & Rong,.

Western Views on Eating Bugs
Entomophagy, or eating insects, has not been seen as a viable food source in the United States and is thought to be disgusting and unsafe due to some insects can be transmitters of disease. But few people realize that most insects are beneficial and that very few are actually damaging. However, a growing number of Americans are now ready to sample insects that are prepared in the manner of other foods, and with the use of chocolate or similar coatings. Entomophagy has been growing in the general culture. While advocating entomophagy means fighting the momentum of American food practices, there are good reasons to be optimistic. In nearly every week of the year, an edible insect event is taking place somewhere in the United States, and people – especially children – are opening their eyes to the logic of entomophagy. Most of all we can witness entomophagy on reality TV shows (Survivor, Fear Factor) although most of these contestants are not thrilled at the prospect of eating insect and only do it to try to win money. However Bear Grylls eats bugs on his Man vs Wild TV show all the time and seems to enjoy it! So whether or not participants on these shows enjoy eating bugs, the practice still exposes entomophagy to the public and catalyzes conversations on the subject. Negative representations are still better than none at all, for they stir a sense of curiosity in some viewers.                                                          
Chocolate edible insect are not only fun and different but can provide a significant source of protein. A blog written by Lexie Beswick stated that one hundred grams or about 3 1/2 ounces of crickets contains 121 calories, 5 grams carbohydrates, 13g protein, and 76 milligrams iron. They are organic and despite western civilizations critical view, they are safe for consumption. So instead of going with the boring chocolate bars this year, bring some excitement to the trick or treaters and scare them with this delicious treat!