Rearing of crickets for human consumption is becoming popular around the world but knowledge on what cricket species that can be farmed and how to keep them in a sustainable way is scarce.
Uppsala/Sweden — So far, farming of crickets has often been based on the use of chicken feed as feed for the crickets which is not very sustainable and also expensive. Knowledge on the nutrient value of crickets for humans is also lacking although chemical analyses indicate that it could be good.
Phalla Miech's thesis "Cricket farming — An alternative for producing food and feed in Cambodia" contains the first publications to show that field crickets from Cambodia can be reared in captivity on some weeds and agricultural and food by-products (with origin in Cambodia) and also that a mono-gastric animal like pigs (which was used as model for humans) can grow well on a diet including field crickets. It also shows that peeling of crickets (removal of legs), as has been suggested by the European food authority before consumption, seems to be a waste if the crickets are processed into a meal. The legs contain valuable nutrients that should be used, either as food or as animal feed.
Valuable Protein Source
Based on the results from the present project it is likely that crickets can make a substantial contribution to the protein requirements of humans. A child weighing 10 kg (1-2 years) should consume about 12 g of protein/day to be at a safe level of protein intake and 45 mg of lysine to meet the daily lysine requirement. The lysine requirement could be met by eating twelve field crickets fed a by-product like cassava plant tops. To meet the safe level of protein intake the child has to consume about 90 g of crickets. This would be similar to the size of a hamburger. The high content of iron in crickets is also of great nutritional interest since anaemia, often due to iron deficiency, is a common health problem, not only in Cambodia but also in Western countries. Based on the iron content in crickets fed one of the weeds evaluated, a child aged 1-2 years would need to consume crickets corresponding the size of a hamburger to get the supplementation suggested by WHO (2016) in countries where anaemia is frequent.