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Costa Rican students’ insect-based foods take top spots at international competition

Tico students took the two top spots in an international competition for their innovative ideas for fighting malnutrition with insect-based food.

Two teams from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) took first and second place Tuesday in the international category of the U.S. Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)’s  “Developing Solutions for Developing Countries Competition.” The annual awards recognize the top three best scientific projects proposing food solutions for developing countries.

Earlier this year, local teams from the UCR’s Food Technology School were selected among the top three semifinalists among 59 proposals from around the world. The teams presented their projects this week to a jury at IFT’s Annual Conference in Chicago, and debated in a panel with the judges and members of all participating teams. Along with the international finalists, there were three projects from U.S. universities.

The winning Tico team presented a product called “Cricketas” – cookies made from powdered crickets and sweet potatoes. The project aims to improve nutrition for children in rural communities in Costa Rica’s northern zone, including Los Chiles, La Cruz, Upala and Guatuso.

Second place went to the Tico team that produced “Molibannann,” patties made out of plantains and mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor). The students designed the product for feeding children with malnutrition problems in Haiti.

A team from the University Putra Malaysia took the third spot with a product called Coco-Wormy.

IFT competition winners receive $3,000 and the runner-up gets $1,000.

The Ticos attendance at the competition was a real challenge as organizers only paid for travel and accommodations for one person per project. But UCR authorities campaigned to raise funds to send all group members to Chicago.

Read about the winning projects: Costa Rican students turn larvae, crickets into nutritious meals to fight hunger

Larva patties could help feed malnourished children in Haiti, while cookies made from crickets could help children from impoverished communities in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone.

(Courtesy of Jessy Usaga/UCR)

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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