June 18, 2013 -- Would you eat cookies where the main ingredient is grasshopper?
Natalia Hernandez and Jesus de Anda -- two chemical engineering students at Mexico's Tec de Monterrey University -- are betting that quite a few people will.
They also think that grasshopper cookies can help to fight hunger and obesity.
Hernandez and de Anda are about to register a brand of cookies made with regular flour, oatmeal and grasshopper powder, which they will call "Cricket Cookies."
Their idea, so far, is to sell these cookies at health food stores but also to distribute them in public schools in Monterrey's poor neighborhoods.
"Between 60 to 70 percent of this insect's body is made up of protein," Hernandez told the Monterrey newspaper El Horizonte. "In comparison, only 40 percent of cow meat contains protein, and there is a lot of fat in it as well."
Hernandez said that her insect cookies could be served as a snack to children in public schools in low income areas, enabling them to "eat something that is good for them instead of eating things that can lead to obesity, like potato chips."
The idea of eating grasshoppers is not new to Mexico of course. Known in Mexico as chapulines, these tiny insects have been part of the diet of some indigenous groups in the center and south of the country for centuries.
Grasshoppers are also common fare in southern cities like Oaxaca where they are deep fried and served as snacks, or included in local dishes like the Tlayuda, a large tortilla that is stuffed with lettuce, beans, cheese and other fillings.
But people in the north of Mexico are generally not accustomed to eating these critters, and some may even cringe at the thought of stuffing grasshoppers in their mouths. That is why Hernandez and de Anda figured that they had to include their grasshoppers in cookies. In this way, the grasshoppers are first turned into powder and are unrecognizable to consumers.
"The Chapulin is a really good product, which we are really not exploiting that well," Hernandez told El Horizonte. Interested in making some grasshopper cookies of your own? Check out this recipe.