This project aims to develop a new, tasty, protein- and mineral-rich Swedish food based on the house cricket (Acheta domesticus). The project involves development of a feed production system providing ecosystem services, cricket rearing and creation of safe, tasty “Swedish” dishes. Production of this food is expected to increase biodiversity, reduce environmental impact, allow efficient use of land and water resources and give a rearing system with few ethical problems. The project will contribute to the UN Aichi biodiversity targets and to eight of the 17 UN sustainable development goals.
The modern agricultural landscape has low habitat diversity and has negative impact on biological diversity. A global challenge is to identify how to use agricultural land to support biodiversity and still provide enough food and other products. In Sweden, losses of flowering habitats have been high. Our main hypotheses are that the house cricket has efficient feed conversion (compared to conventional livestock) and that it can be fed red clover and other flowering plants and thereby increase biological diversity in the Swedish landscape. We will study how clover crops affect natural insect biodiversity and whether other flowering plants, with potential as food and habitats for native species but currently not commercially grown, are suitable as feed for house crickets. We will investigate how different plants and feed conservation methods affect growth, feed conversion, nutrient composition and taste of the crickets. We will also determine the drinking water requirement in house crickets and its relationship to feed water content. Together with a chef we will produce one “child-friendly” and one exclusive dish based on crickets. Knowledge on food safety in cricket rearing is limited and risk assessments are urgently needed. We will study microbiota development in rearing systems, thereby providing important baseline data for assessing potential food safety threats. Unfortunately, commercial house crickets are susceptible to densovirus, which affects cricket health. Its incidence in wild populations is unknown. We will investigate the incidence of this virus in wild Swedish populations.
Professor at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology