What would crickets love to eat – and would we love to eat crickets?
HAMK's research unit for Bioeconomy is working on the hot topic of utilizing insects as a source for human food. They are currently investigating the use of side streams from horticulture, such as tomato, cucumber and cabbage leaves, as feed for house crickets intended for human consumption.
There is a growing interest in insects by both business makers and researchers. For researchers, the current interest is on finding domestic and ecologically-sound sources of protein and exploiting side streams in a more sophisticated and efficient manner.
The insect business in Finland is new as food to consumers and also as produce to farmers. It is therefore important to find financially and ecologically sound production chains. One research interest is insect feed: an important part of the ecological footprint of the chain and in the taste of the insects.
Fruit and vegetable gardens and greenhouses generate plenty of unutilized produce and different side streams – poor quality produce or non-food ingredients - which for various reasons end up as compostable waste, for example. Such side stream biomasses can be utilized as cricket feed.
HAMK's insect researchers are delving into cricket feeding. They have four aims: to develop innovative solutions in order to minimize horticultural waste, to advance the use of horticultural side streams, to promote the use of insects as human food, and to generate new commercial business.
The research project results in new information on alternative sources of cricket feed and encourages the actors in the horticulture business into new modes of operation.
Antti Järveläinen, a student in Biotechnology and Food Engineering, is feeding crickets. He is also preparing his Bachelor's Thesis on the horticultural side streams in insect farming. (Photo: Satu Nokkonen)
Insect reseach is carried out as a part of the ArvoBio Project. For more info on the subject, watch the video on insects enjoying side streams from horticulture