Food tech start up FlyingSpark says their insect powder is an alternative protein source that can potentially substitute for meat, poultry and fish - but can consumers stomach it? Bob Mezan reports.
Yair Feinberg is making Swedish meatballs. The Israeli chef shapes them, fries them, and finishes them off with a squeeze of lime. The taste - seemingly a hit. The main ingredient, however, is a head-turner. Feinberg calls these 'flyballs.' And that's because they're made with a powder derived from fruit fly larvae. The powder is made at FlyingSpArk, a food tech start-up that sees the larvae as a near perfect protein. Founder and CEO Eran Gronich explains. SOUNDBITE: Eran Gronich, founder and CEO of FlyingSpArk, saying (English): "First of all the nutrition values are very, very high in terms of protein, iron, calcium, magnesium and the essential amino acid profile is very, very high. There is no cholesterol etc and on the other hand, it's highly sustainable." With market demand growing for edible insects, developers say fruit fly larvae have an edge over other edible insects, like grasshoppers or crickets, because they have no legs, wings, antennas, or eyes. The fruit flies have a short life span of six days and are easy to cultivate. A mix of sugary vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes provides their nourishment, and the nutrients they ingest is passed into the powder. SOUNDBITE: Eran Gronich, founder and CEO of FlyingSpArk, saying (English): "It's much more healthier than eating red meat for instance, in insect protein you have all the good stuff without the bad stuff, the only thing that's a challenge, it's only in our mind, it's only the psychological barrier, that's it". The powder has already sparked interest from IKEA. Whether the Swedish furniture giant ever adds the ingredient to its legendary restaurant meatballs is debatable, for one good reason.... the 'yuck' factor, which might prevent many consumers from accepting the insects as part of their diet.