Tech Blog: Repurposing Food Waste

Nov. 5, 2019

Off campus at the Entomology Farm, behind the trays and trays of mealworms and various insects native to Arizona, is Goggy Davidowitz, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who has created an innovative way to repurpose food waste to produce sustainable insect protein for food products.

Global population and standards of living continue to increase, which strains available resources, particularly with regard to costs of food production. However, alternative production methods can provide sustainable and healthy food with less impact.

Using leftover food and kitchen scraps on campus, Davidowitz has created an alternative solution that repurposes the food waste into a feed that can be fed to insects. These insects can then be processed into protein to be used as a food ingredient.

Mealworms currently being studied. Photo credit: Alison Mairena/Tech Launch Arizona

There is an increasing interest, and growing market, to use insects as an alternative source of protein. Insects are highly nutritious, rich in protein and minerals, and contain fiber. Insects are also a highly sustainable source of protein: they require very little water or land, are very efficient at converting feed into food, and are very amenable to urban farming- bringing the food close to the consumer.

This process also addresses the problem of food waste. Between 30 and 40 percent of all food produced, ends up in the landfill. Davidowitz is looking to repurpose this food waste to produce edible protein as food for humans and feed for fish and chickens.

“I am very excited about moving forward with this,” he said, “as it will solve both hunger and food waste simultaneously all the while taking the strain off of conventional food production. This is a win, win, win for everyone.”

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Paul Tumarkin