Some people have been asking us why our first version of Cricket Pasta™ is not a gluten free pasta (it is 80% wheat flour and 20% cricket flour). A Tweet is too short to explain the reasons why that has not been possible. Then, here it is a long blog post!
1 We made it gluten free, and it was not yummy. We went to one of the few gluten free producers in Thailand and we made a batch test. Unfortunately, the result had a gummy taste and in general, it was not tasty. We then went to a supermarket nearby, bought a dozen gluten free pastas (with rice flour, corn flour, soy) and then went home to cook them. We found that gluten free makes sense if you have an intolerance, but in our opinion, it is very unlikely that a gluten free pasta tastes good. With one exception (a white rice flour pasta which was pretty decent), all the pastas were, at best, mediocre. Apparently, this was not just our personal opinion. Some chefs we spoke to confirmed this: gluten free pasta are not as tasty as gluten pasta.
2 We are making a totally new food. We hope that people with celiac intolerance understand what we are doing here. We are trying to let the people know that bugs are tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly (which is what is well known everywhere but in western countries). However, people will never accept only sustainability and healthy as insect selling points, if the taste is not good. In this case, we will not be able to sell our new product, which is based on crickets, if people think that the crickets are they reason why the pasta does not taste great.
3 Gluten intolerant people are 1%. According to Wikipedia, there is a medical debate over the number of celiacs in the world. But they are often considered to be around 1%. By deduction, the percentage of people just sensitive to gluten, a little higher. Still, they are a minority which is getting a lot of attention and have a wide number of products available on shelves. There is a perception that gluten is unhealthy, and this idea has also lead a lot of gluten tolerant people to give up on a good plate of wheat pasta. We just hope they won’t turn to a hamburger, which not only is not healthy, it is also an environmental bomb (see the movie Cowspiracy, or read the book The Omnivore Dilemma and you will be flabbergasted)! In short, we wonder why so many people ask us to make our product to the requirements of a minority, if this means a high price to pay for our start up. Because, yes, we are…
4 …we are a small start up. Now, we do not want to complain about being a small company. Actually, it is fun. But making a living by selling bugs as food is not that easy, in this moment, economically speaking. The market must be built from scratch, and many people, probably between 50 and 65 percent, still think that eating insects is a horrible idea (as if a oysters, cheese mold or the guts of a pig are not disgusting…). However, we do not have unlimited resources. We would love to cater to the celiacs too, but simply, we have to look at the figures, and those figures tell us the biggest market is for wheat pasta.
5 We may do it in the future. Once people are aware that cricket flour is good (it has a pleasant nutty taste that matches perfectly many pasta sauces) and we have the budget for it, we will try again – this time, with the help of a great food technician, to make a gluten free Cricket Pasta that tastes as good as possible.