Would you eat fruit fly larvae to help save the planet?
Flying Spark joins other companies making grub with bugs.
For years the United Nations has urged people around the world to incorporate more environmentally friendly foods into their diets. One such alternative the intergovernmental organization recommends is insects, which they say are already consumed by 2 billion people in the developing world. But in the United States and other Western countries, not so much.
In recent years several companies have popped up, looking to develop novel ways to get people in those parts of the world to consume insects.
Flying Spark is one such company. Based in Israel, it uses fruit fly larvae to make a protein powder (in regular and low-fat varieties) and oil that can be used in everything from substitute meat patties to faux chicken nuggets, pasta, cereal and bread.
The idea earned them a slot at MassChallenge last year. The four-month accelerator program in Boston is said to be the world's largest early-stage startup accelerator, and only 28 of 2,3000 applicants were selected for the 2015 program.
"Animal protein as we consume it today is harmful to our health and destructive to the environment," Eran Gronich, CEO and co-founder of Flying Spark, told From The Grapevine. "Livestock farming uses huge amounts of water and land and produces enormous amounts of waste. Oceans are being overfished. In addition, animal protein is full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides [bad for human health]."
The same can't be said of fruit fly larvae. It's nutritious, full of protein and leaves little negative impact on the environment or human body.
"The larvae protein has no 'bad' stuff inside such as antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, cholesterol, gluten etc.," said Gronich. "It is highly sustainable, emits no greenhouse gases, and [there is] hardly any water or land consumption."
Other companies are producing similar products with crickets and mealworms. San Francisco-based Six Foods uses cricket flour to make tortilla chips. Co-founders Rose Wang and Laura D'Asaro were recently named to the prestigious Forbes's 30-under-30 list. Entomo Farms (formerly Next Millenium Farms), based in Ontario, Canada, is another major player, producing both cricket and mealworm food products.
Gronich said that Flying Spark is the only one using fruit fly larvae. He and his colleague and co-founder Yoram Yerushalmi decided from the start that it was ideal for their purposes.
"It eats only fruits and has a very short life span compared to its body mass growth," Gronich explained. "And we can use 100% of it."
Back in Israel, Flying Spark is gearing up for production and hoping to get the product on shelves this year.
"Feedback has been good, and the flavors are very good," Gronich said, adding that younger generations have been especially receptive to the product.
"We are selling white powder that looks like flour, we are not selling the larvae in its original form. When you come to think about it, it looks much better than a dead chicken."
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Related Topics: Healthy eating