SNACKS WITH ADDED HOP: UK supermarket to start selling insect nibbles

London – VIJAY SHAH via Sky News

If you are tired of the same old potato crisps, peanuts and trail mix for your snacking needs, and want to try something radically different, a supermarket in the UK has begun selling an ‘edible insects’ range, where you can now chow on crickets or graze on a grasshopper.

Sainsbury’s, a mid-market retail chain headquartered in London, will be selling various crunchy dried insects as snacks across 250 of its UK stores, retailing in small packs for £1.50 eachSky News reported yesterday. The range, titled ‘Eat Grub’ – a play on the traditional Cockney dialect term for food, ‘grub’ – is made by an external supplier of roast insects of the same name who have approached the supermarket chain to promote their products.


A highlight of the Eat Grub range includes BBQ-smoked crickets which taste-testers have described as being “crunchy in texture with a rich smoky flavour”. Sainsbury’s is not the first to sell the range of creepy-crawly nibbles though. Online upmarket supermarket Ocado, a division of Britain’s Waitrose and Partners retail firm, has been stocking Eat Grub for five months previously, to mixed perceptions among its shoppers. 

One online reviewer wrote on Ocado’s site in reference to the BBQ crickets: “My hubby [husband]… said they didn’t taste at all of BBQ… [all] he could taste was fish sauce? Way too expensive as well.”

Another reviewer however was more upbeat about the snacks. They wrote: “Tried the final flavour in this selection from Eat Grub and LOVED this – much tastier than a bag of crisps without the calories. Couldnt (sic) stop eating them!”

Sainsbury’s advised consumers brave enough to try the edible insects and grubs to eat them straight out of the packet as a quick snack or use them in cooking as a garnish for tacos, noodles and salads.

Insects and arachnids are common as a cheap and protein-rich food source for non-vegetarians/vegans in many parts of the world. In Malawi, people armed with giant nets catch and eat mosquitoes, crickets are roasted as a snack in Thailand, fried scorpions are big business in China, and Cambodians will go to great lengths to lure a species of endemic burrowing tarantula out of their holes to fry them and even sell them to passing tourists.

In the UK and much of the Western world, the idea of eating insects and other arthropods is often met with revulsion, even though crustaceans and molluscs are widely consumed there. However with intensive farming practices of larger livestock such as cows and sheep being increasingly harmful for the environment and animal welfare, experts have encouraged consumers and retailers to look at more sustainable sources of nutrition, with insects being high on that list of new food outlets.

According to the Eat Grub company, founded in 2014 by Shami Radia and Neil Whippey to introduce more people in the West to insect foods, dried crickets contain more protein per gram than beef, chicken or pork – with 68g of protein per 100g, compared to 31g of protein in beef.

Radia said: “Currently, insects are eaten and enjoyed by two billion people worldwide.

“We’re on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn’t be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”

According to a survey conducted by Sainsbury’s and Eat Grub, ten per cent of the British public have eaten insect snacks and around half have rated them as delicious.


Shere Singh/Facebook.

“Sainsbury’s launches £1.50 edible insect range in UK supermarket first” – Sky News/Sky UK (17 November 2018)


“Fried Crickets – Chiang Mai Night Bazaar” – Alpha, Flickr (12 March 2009)


NUTS ABOUT NUTELLA?: French shoppers riot over heavily discounted chocolate spread

Paris – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS BAYNES and The Independent

Everyone loves a bargain. But on the negative side, a shopper’s paradise can very rapidly turn into a shopper’s nightmare when people turn ugly over bagging cut-price goods. Just ask any retail worker on a Black Friday in Britain. That free-for-all mentality became very obvious this past week in France, when local supermarket chain Intermarché heavily reduced the price of Nutella hazelnut and chocolate spread, only for riots to ensure and people reported injured in mad scrambles and store fisticuffs.

Intermarché unveiled a special promo on the popular spread, manufactured by Italian firm Ferrero SpA, reducing the price from €4.50 (£3.90) to €1.41 (£1.23) for the 950 gram jar. Customers keen to get their Nutella crepe fix practically fought over the jars in the aisles, causing police to be called to several of the chain’s outlets. There were reports of people pushing and shoving, with one woman left bleeding and a supermarket worker ambushed as they brought fresh stocks of Nutella to the shop floor.


According to UK newspaper the Independent, French social media users shared footage of shoppers swarming around shelves of the spread, jostling each other. “Seriously? All this for Nutella,” remarked one stunned bystander. Another commented: “This is not normal.”

One customer was said to have suffered a black eye during a fight that broke out over the sweet spread in a store in the town of L’Horme, in the central Loire region. That store sold out of Nutella in only fifteen minutes, a store employee told newspaper Le Progres. The manager of another Intermarché in Rive-de-Gier, central France, said 600 pots were sold within five minutes. One customer described shoppers as “like animals”.

“A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a blood [sic] hand,” they said. “It was horrible.”

Some extremely desperate Nutella fans in the town of Montbrison, also in central France, went to the extent of hiding Nutella jars in secret places in the shop, ready to harvest them the next day, while keeping the precious foodstuffs out of the sight of rival shoppers. The manager of that store, Jean-Marie Daragon, tried to remedy the madness by bringing in a Nutella rationing scheme, limiting customers to three jars per person.

Alba, Piedmont-based manufacturer Ferrero condemned the violence across the border but also distanced itself from Intermarché and its controversial promotion. “We wish to clarify that this promotion was decided unilaterally by the Intermarché brand,” it said in a statement. 

Nutella is extremely popular in France, with 100 million jars a year consumed by citizens, making France one of the hazelnut and chocolate flavoured spread’s biggest markets globally.


The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“Nutella ‘riots’: Sale on chocolate and hazelnut spread sparks chaos in French supermarkets” – Chris Baynes, Independent (26 January 2018)


“File:MAD OVER NUTELLA.JPG” – Raginianand, Wikimedia Commons (3 June 2015)


MANOR PARK: Newham school in pole position to recieve Tesco ‘garden grant’


VIJAY SHAH via Newham Recorder

A primary school in Manor Park, east London is set to receive £12,000 towards developing gardens for their pupils as part of a charity drive by a local newspaper and the supermarket chain Tesco, the Newham Recorder reported yesterday.

Kensington Primary School, which caters to pupils aged between 3 and 11 years, was a finalist in a competition run between Tesco and the Newham Recorder as part of Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, which has a pot of £30,000 from sales of carrier bags which will be split into three grants of £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000. Members of the public will get to decide which school or organisation will benefit from the scheme. Shoppers will be able to vote for who gets which grant at their local Tesco supermarket from the 27th February to the 6th March 2016.

English: Tesco Express local store in Trowbrid...
English: Tesco Express local store in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Staff at the primary school plan to overhaul the outdoor spaces in order to ‘provide a vibrant and educational outdoor environment’, the Newham Recorder commented. Kensington Primary’s business manager, Shazidur Rahman, spoke with the Recorder as to why his school needed the grant.

“Something we’ve found is that a lot of the kids don’t have a local park to go to,” Rahman said.

“We want to put lots of different flowers and plants in and teach the children about them.”

Kensington Primary has already identified a number of suitable places on its premises to redevelop in order to bring the outdoors to its pupils’ doorstep and give them valuable educational and recreational opportunities which are otherwise in short supply locally.

Rahman further commented “It depends when we get the money, but we hope to start work this spring,”

“We think the school holidays might be a good time to get people in and work on the garden.”

Other than overhauling the school’s open spaces, the primary also plans to purchase large planters for the playground, special signs to indicate different types of plants, learning trails and specially commissioned wall art, all of which are intended to improve the school environment and appearance, as well as help their young pupils learn about their natural world and surroundings.

“It’s fantastic that we’re one of the shortlisted organisations,” said Rahman.

“The more money we can get, the more we can develop the school.”

The Tesco Bags of Help scheme is run all across England and Wales and involves community groups bidding for shares of £30,000 grants allocated to 390 regions identified by the supermarket nationally as one of the UK’s largest grocery outlets. The grants come from the sale of 5-pence carrier bags by Tesco stores, which the retailer has been legally obliged to charge for since October 2015.

“Manor Park school to receive grant for garden project” – Sophie Morton, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (20 February 2016)
“Kensington Primary School – Newham”, Kensington Primary School
“File:TescoExpress.jpg” – Rodhullandemu, Wikimedia Commons (9 May 2009)

GIFT FOR A BOY?: Young child gets supermarket to remove sexist sign

Maggie Cole, a seven-year-old resident of Poole, Dorsetsouthern England has struck a blow for gender equality in the war against gendered stereotypes after managing to get her local supermarket to bin what she considered to be a sexist sign advertising a clock in their toy department, the Metro newspaper reports.

She stumbled across the sign while shopping with her mother Karen at the Tesco supermarket near their home in the seaside town. The cardboard sign, which was affixed to a shelf in the children’s’ toy aisle, had been erected by the retailer to advertise a Marvel Comics alarm clock. Underneath a picture of the product were the words “Fun gifts for boys” printed in bold type. Maggie was so annoyed by the store’s biased suggestion of the suitability of the clock, that she alerted her mother who took a picture of her daughter with the offending sign and tweeted it.

The plucky youngster then complained to Tesco, saying that she would “not stand for the notion boys and girls liked specific toys” the Metro reported. The supermarket responded by removing the sign, scoring a victory for gender equality and many parents’ struggle to remind retailers of the right for children to choose toys and games according to their preferences, not their gender. Maggie is said to be a huge fan of superheroes, in particular BatmanSupermanSpider Man and Wonder Woman, and was quoted by Metro as describing the supermarket as ‘very stupid’.

Karen Cole tweeted a picture of Maggie looking displeased next to the sign, along with the caption “My superhero loving 7yo daughter not impressed when she spotted this sign in @Tesco today @LetToysBeToys” The @LetToysBeToys handle belongs to an activist group, Let Toys Be Toys, which campaigns against gender-based stereotyping in the toy and marketing industries. Maggie herself has long made it clear that she believes that toys are “for all people”, according to Metro.

A Tesco spokesperson later commented “The sign has been removed and we’re sorry if it caused any confusion“.

In February 2014, another seven-year-old, Charlotte Benjamin, wrote a letter to manufacturer Lego criticising the Denmark-based firm for gender segregation and the heavy bias of the company towards young male customers, while having few, and inevitably pink, options for young girls. In the letter, which went viral after it was republished on the internet, Charlotte wrote eloquently “All the girls (in the Lego play sets) did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.

Retailers selling toys and children’s gifts have traditionally marketed different toys to boys and girls, while many toy manufacturers usually market blue toys to male children and pink ones to female children, although increasing activism against differential gender roles has reduced the appetite for this form of marketing among consumers. Many British parents now opt to bring up their children with gender-neutral toys and games.

Increasingly, parents and advocates of gender rights have brought toy manufacturers and purveyors to task for enforcing what they believe are stereotypes of men and women via only marketing different toys to boys and girls. The backlash against ‘dolls for girls and trucks for boys’ has seen many UK shops no longer stock toys by gender. Studies have shown that forcing children to play with toys ‘expected’ for their gender can have an impact on their career choices as adults, as well as pressuring them to follow societal stereotypes.

In June this year, UK Equalities Minister, Jenny Wilmott, appealed to the country’s retailers to stop sorting toys by gender, claiming such segregation would put off girls from entering traditionally male-dominated career paths such as science and engineering, according to The Guardian newspaper. In an interview with the paper, Wilmott said “Children should be able to make their own choices over which toys they want to play with, without them being labelled as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’“. The minister also proposed that toy and other product catalogues should categorise playthings by topics such as construction, science or beauty, rather than in broad categories for boys and girls. Other Members of Parliament however, have accused toy firms of ‘aggressive gender segregation’ and that their obsession with pink kitchen sets, princess dresses and vacuum cleaners for girls is putting them off dreaming of being mathematicians, scientists or professors and harming their confidence levels, says the Daily Mail. Many toy aisles in the United Kingdom are little more than shelves of pink or blue, with one particular gender being aimed at, while toy manufacturers have been accused of using pink and blue themed and gender biased marketing techniques to put pressure on parents and carers to buy into stereotypes and also to charge premiums on certain products.

Facebook, Facebook Inc.
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc.
“Girl, 7, gets Tesco to change sign that says clock is ‘gift for a boy’” – Jimmy Nsubuga, Metro/Associated Newspapers Ltd (25 November 2014)
“Stop shops sorting toys by gender, says equalities minister” – Rowena Mason, The Guardian – News – World News – Gender/Guardian News and Media Limited (27 June 2014)
“Toy firms accused of ‘aggressive gender segregation’ with pink obsession blamed for putting girls off maths and science” – Matt Chorley, Mail Online News/Associated Newspapers Ltd (5 February 2014)
Karen Cole, Twitter, Twitter Inc.


TESCO BROMLEY-BY-BOW: A fresher, brighter store

By Vijay Shah

Once again we at the Half-Eaten Mind decided to investigate what the postman/woman left for the office on the doormat (as per usual). As it so happens I am a loyal Tesco shopper. Although I do like to take my chances with the large Morissons in Stratford Central, my family usually swears by the store where ‘every little helps’..and that is a tradition that I have dutifully kept up. Well as we all know, loyal customers need loyal loyalty card schemes, and I have been a member of Tesco’s Clubcard service for a good many years. Every month, Tesco’s Clubcard marketing division likes to send a few money-off or extra points vouchers my way. Which I don’t mind at all, after all it’s marginally better than the reams of junk mail my bank always send. It’s a good thing I am a firm believer in recycling!.

About 3 days ago, a leaflet came to my attention announcing the revamping of Tesco’s Bromley-by-Bow store. I have never been there, so unfortunately I can’t tell you what it was like before. There’s a few branches closer to me, as flooded with supermarkets and pound shops as we are here, but the senior executives and developers at Tesco plc HQ have made a substantial effort it seems…they even enclosed £18 (around $28 US) of coupons…unfortunately they cannot be used at the nearby Tesco Metro in Green Street 😦 .

But HEM is meant to be useful and informative…so if you live in Tower Hamlets or can be bothered to drive a few extra miles to do your shopping, then this brief article will tell you what the new store has to offer.

Tesco Bromley-by-Bow new store mailshot
The mailshot announcing Tesco’s refurbished store in E3. (c) V. Shah/HEM

The paint is dry and the shelves are filled. We’re delighted to announce your new look store is now ready.Your fresher, brighter store means we can now offer you even more choice under one roof. From your weekly essentials to treats for your family, you’re sure to find whatever you’re after…” (Stuart Dickinson, Store Manager)

So there you have it, Mr. Dickinson proudly announces that Tesco’s supermarket in Bromley-by-Bow, east London, has had a makeover. The most likely reason is that as much of east London has been spruced up for the Olympics this month, they thought to do up Tesco here as well. Along with the blindingly brand new buildings, stadia and roads that have sprung up in this area, it is all to attract and stupefy not only the locals but also Olympics visitors and tourists. The newly refurbished store now boasts the following shoppers’ treats:

A ‘World Foods’ section boasting selected product ranges from west Africa, the Caribbean islands, Asia, Ireland and Latin America. This is one of the perks of living in such a vibrant, multicultural city, and foodies and aspiring chefs will be smiling from ear to ear. It will also mean that athletes and tourists from abroad will feel a little less homesick.

A halal meats counter for local Muslim communities. The in-store butchers offers a wide variety of meats and poultry, slaughtered under Islamic rites, and judging from the leaflet picture, looks very fresh and affordable. The facility is run by staff from the National Halal Centre in conjunction with Tesco. NHC were established in 1954, and claim to be the pioneers of halal meat trading in Europe. They are definitely worth a look if you are stocking up for a family dinner or a sizzling summer halal BBQ!.

A fishmonger and obligatory well-stocked fish counter. If you like your fish boneless and carefully filleted, the expert in livestock of the sea will happily attend to your every whim.

Wannabe Homer Simpsons will want to make a beeline for the Krispy Kreme Doughnut cabinet with its delectable range of glazed, iced, and packed-to-the-gills-with-raspberry-jam round cakey offerings.

In addition to doughnuts, there are also snacks, sandwiches and drinks available for people who need to eat on the go.

You can also expect your usual Tesco fare and a wide choice of private brand foods, household items and other goods. Tesco are adept at giving customers a varied choice. Expect to see brand-new fittings, lots of space, and clearly demarcated shelves…and hopefully a comfortable shopping experience that will leave you walking through the car park with several heavy bags of shopping and a great big grin on your face.

The store is within easy walking distance of Bromley-by-Bow Underground station and is near the new Olympic Stadium in Stratford. There should be ample parking space and the store also has its own on-site petrol station whose kiosk for cash payments and additional purchases is open Mon-Sat 8 am to 10 pm, Sunday 8 am to 8 pm. The PayatPump cashless service is however open 24 hours.


Hancock Road, Bow, London E3 3DA        Tel: 08456 779085


Monday-Saturday 6 am – midnight; Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

An artist’s rendition of the new Tesco site. (c) 2011 CABE