“Conscious consumers, millennials, green parents, and many other consumer categories are seeking out sustainable, natural, nutritious, and ethical options, especially alternative proteins,” Allen explains. “In the past few years, many athletes, musicians, trendsetters, celebrities, celebrity chefs, and business and thought leaders have promoted them. They can play a big role in opening people up to new ideas and normalizing them.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJune/July 2018
Also By This Author
Celebrities may have been exposed to the idea when traveling to other cultures where eating insects is commonplace, and experienced it in a positive and receptive environment. Athletes may be early adopters because of the foods’ nutritional density. Some folks want organic or locally sourced or free-ranged food that they view as being more humane and ethical. Foodies are looking for new, interesting foods. “When people have the opportunity to try something and it tastes good, then it’s easy to eat it again,” Allen says. “But it has to be delicious.”
Edible Insect Issues
Because most insects have a chemical composition that resembles that of shellfish, people who are allergic to shellfish may be allergic to consuming products containing insects. Given this, the U.S. FDA requires a product’s label to state a warning against this potential allergy.
The FDA has given clear guidance on steps a company must take to market and use insects in products. “Insects must be farmed for food purposes and must adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices during processing, packaging, marketing, and transporting,” Allen says. For example, they must be cooked in the same way as other food products to prevent microbial growth.
In order to ensure a product’s safety, Allen recommends standard safety testing, supply chain verification, chain of provenance authentication, and good consumer education on intended use and best practices for cooking and storing. The FDA requires laboratory testing.
Cannabis Food Products
As marijuana and hemp, two plants that are part of the cannabis family, are being de-criminalized and more regulated, they along with their extracts are finding their way into scores of consumer products.
The cannabis plant contains many constituent ingredients, the most obvious being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The widely known psychoactive ingredient is primarily responsible for making people high when smoked or in other forms, says Chris Bunka, chief executive officer, Lexaria Bioscience Corp., Phoenix, Ariz., and Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. But both cannabis and hemp strains are rich in non-psychoactive cannabinoids that are very different and mostly overlooked in comparison to their better-known and often vilified cousin ingredient, THC.
Non-psychoactive cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) have found their way into products such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, candies, chocolates, soft drinks, cookies, baked goods, sauces, spices, fruit drinks, and entrées. Hemp seed and hemp protein are sold widely across North America and Europe as nutritious protein supplements with healthful omega oil profiles, Bunka says.
Infused versions of products are an increasing trend in the cannabis market. Long-term users of cannabis prefer this form of product delivery because the effect seems to be greater and longer lasting than traditional cannabis when smoked. “Many people develop a tolerance to cannabis when smoked, and no longer experience an effect, whereas edible cannabis seems to always provide an effect that consumers enjoy,” says Stuart W. Titus, PhD, president and CEO, Medical Marijuana Inc., San Diego, Calif. “Generally, it creates exuberance, laughter, and joy while relaxing the body.”
Reasons for Cannabis Popularity
Some people report that ingesting cannabinoids has helped them mitigate seizures or battle cancer, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or dementia. “The trend is growing in popularity because a sufficient number of people believe they have experienced profound health benefits,” Bunka says.
According to Dr. Titus, science shows that the digestive tract can potentially convert delta-9 THC into delta-11 THC, a slightly different chemical structure that may be responsible for creating a magnified, longer-lasting effect for some regular cannabis users.