MIGHTi Current Projects:

What’s Hopping? Edible Crickets and Human Microbiota

In collaboration with Dr. Tiffany Weir at Colorado State University, MIGHTi is evaluating the potential impacts of cricket protein powder on healthy human microbiota using a randomized, double-blind, placebo control cross-over clinical trial. We are currently in the final stages of data collection and will be analyzing samples May – August 2017.

Social Perceptions of Entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) in Rural Zambia

Better use of edible insects through ‘minilivestock’ cultivation may offer one means to combat nutritional deficiencies in Zambia by providing insects year-round and generating income. Little is known about modern practices and perceptions of entomophagy in rural Zambia, however; such information is needed to gauge local receptivity to future, year-round farming initiatives. Using semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observation MIGHTi is currently examining current perceptions of edible insects and related behaviors to unpack insect consumption and explore what might influence acceptability of future insect cultivation in one rural community.

Nutritional Value of Edible Mealworms Reared on Agriculture Byproducts

MIGHTi is working to understand the impact of a low-nutrient, agricultural byproduct feedstock on edible Tenebrio molitor (mealworm) larvae growth, nutritional composition [crude protein, total amino acid profile (TAAP) and iron], and ability to reproduce. This study aims to emulate possible minilivestock farming conditions in Southern Africa where agricultural byproducts from corn are an available feedstock. We are currently finalizing this study for publication.

Baseline Survey of Entomophagy Behavior, Lusaka Province, Zambia

This study aims to quantify current entomophagy practices across target communities in Lusaka Province, Zambia identifying differences across social, economic, and ethnic delineations. The study involves survey development, focus groups (for feedback on survey instrument), and survey enumeration. To-date, MIGHTi has surveyed ~120 community members about their entomophagy habits, traditions, and perceptions.

Effects of Insect Protein Supplementation on Malnutrition in Mice

Moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) affects 10% of children in developing countries and has serious consequences for health over the life course. Dietary supplements currently used to treat MAM have significant limitations, and insects have been proposed as a nutritious and environmentally sustainable alternative. However, empirical evidence regarding the health impacts of entomophagy is scarce. Using a mouse model, this study evaluates the impact of supplementing protein-deficient diets with cricket powder on metabolic, nutritional, and immune function biomarkers compared to peanut- and milk-based supplementation.