Mealworms an Excellent Source of Protein for Humans and Animals

Langara College Researchers Looking into the Benefits of this Accessible Protein Source that Tastes "Almond-y with a Crunch."


Reported by Nikitha Martins

Mealworms can be an excellent source of additional protein for the Western diet, according to former Langara students who are researching the beetle larvae.

Roshan Noronha, Maggie Stewart and their team have been deep in research since May 2017 and are hoping to answer the question: “Can we grow a protein source on scraps that came out of your kitchen?”

The researchers have been focused on researching the yellow mealworm beetle because of its ability to eat almost anything, including human food leftovers.

Recycling food scraps to grow more food

Folks can grow the mealworms by feeding them kitchen scraps and can later consume the worm for protein.

“Compost is not a bad thing, we’re just hoping to take it one step further,” Stewart said.

“So, instead of creating an indirect product, can you take this waste food and skip a step and convert it directly into livestock…[Mealworms are] a superfood nutritional already, however if we feed them on waste food they’re solving a problem.”

A smiling Maggie Stewart in her office at Langara College. Photo by Nikitha Martins.
From left to right: student lab assistant Prerna Bedi, Maggie Stewart, supervisor Mário Moniz de Sá, project lead Roshan Noronha, student lab assistant Jocelyn O’Brien. Photo submitted by Maggie Stewart.
Shock value of eating worms

However, Stewart said bringing insects into the Western diet would be a difficult task because of the shock value.

“If we were to put a whole pig on somebody’s table — but giving them a pork chop, that’s not shocking,” Stewart said, adding the same concept can be used when introducing the concept of mealworms into the Western diet —  by crushing them into a powder.

Langara photography student Kessa McGowan said eating mealworms sounds gross.

But, regarding Stewart’s approach, she said, “As long as the person who’s consuming it knows [it’s mealworm] it’ll be fine and might be better to digest.”

Grant-winning research

Noronha and Stewart have received a generous amount of money in the form of a funding grant from the Langara Research and Scholarly Activity Fund, Colleges and Institutes Canada and support from the Langara Chemistry and Biology Departments.

Roshan Noronha. Photo submitted by Maggie Stewart.

On Thursday March 29th Noronha and Stewart will be displaying their research at Langara’s Scholarship Café.

Margaret Heldman, an organizer of the event said she hopes that giving students the opportunity to take a look at what their peers are creating and researching will inspire them.

An excellent protein source that may not taste as bad as one may think

Both Heldman and Stewart have tried eating mealworms.

Stewart said they taste “Almond-y with a crunch.” Heldman said they were, “A little crunchy but we were fine, we all lived.”



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