Worms, crickets and grasshoppers – Czech Railways offer new snack selection

Adam Dostál

Most Westerners are grossed out by the idea of eating insects. But Czech start-up Grig, which produces and sells insect food products, wants to convince consumers otherwise – and they are having some remarkable success, including having their products offered as part of Czech Railways’ on-board snack selection.

Photo: SadiaK123,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

Adam Dostál, CEO and founder of the company Grig, which sells products made from insects for human consumption, says he first got the idea of eating insects at a summer camp in 2016.

“A boy came up to me and challenged me to eat a live grasshopper. I said no – it seemed weird to me. But then the idea got stuck in my head and I wondered why we don’t eat insects in our part of the world.”

He looked into it further and discovered that it in fact was not legal to produce insects as a food product in Czechia. Unhappy with this result, he set about trying to find a way to get insect food products legalized.

“I spent two years talking to the Ministry of Agriculture about how to do it legally. The European Union also helped a lot – nowadays insects are officially a food product.”

Grig offer a variety of different snacks and food products including crackers, pasta, and flour, made from insects such as worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. And recently they’ve had a new breakthrough success – Czech Railways, as well as a few other transport companies, have started offering some of Grig’s products as part of their on-board snack selection.

Insects, Dostál maintains, are the food of the future. Meat, with its high greenhouse gas output and significant environmental toll, won’t be a viable source of protein for very much longer for a global growing population. The task now is to find alternative sources of protein to meat – and insects are the ideal choice.

“The whole of Europe now sees the sense of it and a future, even a vision in it. One of the EU’s goals is that by 2050 insect agriculture should come more to the fore so we can reduce our meat consumption, because it won’t be possible in the future to keep eating as much meat as we do now.”

Photo: Zdeňka Kuchyňová,  Radio Prague International

In the context of insects as the food of the future, this move by Czech Railways could be seen as part of a slew of other recent modernising initiatives by the company, such as an LGBT-friendly video ad and a pilot scheme due to launch in September which will allow passengers to apply for compensation for delayed or cancelled trains online, even if they bought their tickets physically.

However, although it may be the food of the future, Dostál admits that there is still some way to go until insects are universally accepted by consumers in the present.

“It’s true that when people hear the word ‘insect’, their first thought isn’t food – most people think of them as something that is only eaten in Asia or South America, not here in Europe. But attitudes are starting to change very quickly.”

Photo: rzierik,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

The insects Grig use in their products are farmed just like any other animal product, and as such are subject to the same strict EU hygiene standards as other agricultural produce. And arguably the manner by which they are killed is very humane, Dostál says. The freezing method mimics what happens to them in their natural environment if a severe morning frost comes – they essentially fall unconscious and don’t wake up again.

Grig don’t yet have their own insect farms, although Dostál says they would like to have them in the future – at the moment they buy their insects from farms elsewhere in Czechia and in Germany.