Y: Don, what’s your favorite bread to make?
D: For me, Yaël, it’s all about flatbread. Nothing is better than fresh tortillas. What about you?
Y: I go in for rye sourdough. It’s a great source of energy, and you can’t beat the flavor.
D: Yes, bread is a key source of energy for many people.
Y: Plus, over the next few decades, bread may become an important protein source for many consumers, and animal protein alone won’t be able to meet the demand.
D: How could bread compensate for animal protein? Even whole grain breads have nowhere near as much protein as beef.
Y: Well, it so happens that researchers are engineering a new kind of flour for bread making—a flour made from insects.
D: You’re kidding...
Y: It may sound strange, since insect food is still a niche product in America. But insects can be full of nutrients: a hundred grams of raw mealworms contains about 20 grams of protein. The idea is to process the mealworms into a powder and use that to enrich breads made with conventional flours.
D: That must require quite a bit of processing.
Y: First, the mealworms are put in water and engineers heat that mixture, then pass it through a nozzle in a process called extrusion. Then, they process it into a powder.
D: That sounds similar to the way that pasta and cereals are made.
Y: Right. Eventually, insect flours will possess properties ideal for baking, like the capacity to retain water and become elastic. Bread made with insect flours will taste and feel very similar to conventional bread.
D: Would you eat a mealworm sourdough?Y: Perhaps—but the testing stage isn’t over yet, so I have time to come around to the idea.