When I think of eating insects, I’m taken back to my childhood where my friends bought sweet, candy lollipops or chocolates, both with a mealworm in the middle, both frequently sold at museum gift shops. We all buzzed with curiosity, excitement and a bit of disgust at this new found marvel: bugs as food??!?!? As a picky child, I couldn’t get past the idea of eating an insect, and didn’t even finish these two sweets; it was too much for me. As an adult, especially one devoted to the Paleo diet, the idea of eating insects for their nutritional benefits, especially when the insect is more hidden, isn’t so off-putting.
Why insects as food?
Now, before you interpret this as any old insect, you should know that in the case of Zoic Bars, the company uses only mealworms raised for the sole purpose of being nourishment.
There are several reasons for using insects as a protein alternative. Raising insects for food has little impact on the environment, compared to conventionally rearing meat. Conventional rearing of livestock places huge strains on land and water use, not to mention the damaging effect it has on the environment itself. In terms of cost, it is far cheaper and more efficient to rear insects as a protein source in comparison to livestock: 2kg of feed is required to produce 1kg of insects as protein, whereas with livestock, the amount of feed to still produce a kilo of meat is fivefold! And because insects are so much smaller than livestock, their water consumption during farming is minute. To keep up with the world’s increasingly large population, insects are a far more cost efficient, sustainable protein alternative that can help to nourish large populaces using a protein source that is still real food, and still healthy.
As a food, insects are incredibly nutritious. They’re richer in protein than meat, and also a quality source of protein. They contain more Branch Chain Amino Acids – vital for muscle recovery – than beef, and can be a great source of oleic and linoleic acids. Insects are also a great source of fibre and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Finally, if you have concerns over bugs, where they’ve been and if they can pass bacteria on, don’t worry: as we know, the difference between humans and insects is so great that no diseases can be transferred between the two species.
For more information on insects as food, read this article by the team at Zoic Bar.
Zoic Bar’s story
This company started as a result of a veterinary school lecture on edible insects. Domen became fascinated with the idea of insects as food on a large scale, and bought his first pack of mealworms from a local pet store to grow in an aquarium in his room. Being able to grow your own protein captivated him, and the fact that it was so easy was an added benefit. Others weren’t so convinced at the thought of eating a whole mealworm, even if Domen thought they were delicious. A solution was to grind the worms into a fine flour to make pancakes – this was a success and got the ball rolling on what would become Zoic Bars the company and the product.
The team at Zoic Bar all hail from Slovenia. As a result of a Domen or Jan on a business broadcast on Slovenian TV in 2014, Krištof joined the company, and soon after Jurji. In 2015, the team got into action to spread the insect word, and to promote their belief that wellbeing starts with good nutrition.
A paleo snack bar and running fuel
While they don’t label their product as ‘paleo,’ the Zoic team believe in a more ancestral approach to food: eating the real foods humans would’ve hunted and eaten thousands of years ago. Insects would’ve been a staple in early humans’ diets, so why not bring it back to the modern one?
For me, as a paleo runner, the best part about Zoic bars, apart from having phenomenal nutritional benefits, is that they contain no added sugar, and are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free and non GMO. This ticks all the ‘real food’ boxes, making them paleo, primal and Whole30 compliant.
I got to try Zoic’s first product, the Cocoa-flavoured bar. I took one bar with me on a longer run, and it did the trick: with its higher carb content, it kept my legs turning over and left me with a continued feeling of energy. While the bar is promoted as a protein bar, I would actually promote it as either a snack bar or midrace fuel! It contains 21g of carbohydrates, in comparison to just under 7g of protein, which is less carbs than the conventional mid-race fuel of energy chews or gels, but enough to keep a fat-burning paleo runner going.
If you like Larabars or Nakd bars, you will like Zoic Bars. They primarily contain dates and cashews, with cocoa powder, mealworm flour and coconut flour rounding out the ingredients list. The bars have quite a rich chocolate taste to them, and are just the right amount of sweet. You can taste the cashews as well, and for those that find the idea of eating insect flour too much, don’t worry: you can’t taste anything that previously had six legs.
Although quite simple, I like the prehistoric theme with a fossil of a crustacean. The packaging also contains the nutritional information for the bars.
Currently, you can only buy Zoic bars in pre-set pacakges from the Zoic Bar website. On offer is four bars for £10.90, eight bars for £19.90, and sixteen bars for £38.90. While this may seem like a steep price for a small bar, bear in mind they are handmade.
Paleo, running fuel, nutritional powerhouse, handmade and environmentally conscious – Zoic Bar ticks all the boxes. Overall score: 8.5/10
Curious to try Zoic Bars? I’m hosting a giveaway on my Facebook page! Zoic is giving two lucky Facebook followers a pack of two bars each. To be eligible, you must like both my Facebook page and Zoic Bar’s, THEN comment on this blog post, or the giveaway post on my Facebook page, saying you’ve shown us Facebook love. The giveaway closes Monday, 21st March, and is open to UK residents only.
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If you’re interested in other paleo products I’ve reviewed, and that are available in the UK, check out: