University of Wisconsin-Stout senior Krystal DeGree hopped on the idea of testing cricket flour in brownies versus traditional wheat flour.
The food science and technology major liked the taste of the flour, or powder, created from the insect, particularly when looking at the nutritional comparisons. For comparable amounts, cricket flour has less than one gram of carbohydrate and seven grams of protein compared to 12 grams of carbohydrate and 1.6 grams of protein in wheat flour.
Cricket flour also carries 17 percent of the daily value of vitamin B12, a nutrient that helps nerve and blood cells stay healthy, and 23 percent of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, essential for proper adrenal function and overall nerve health. Cricket flour is gluten free and lactose-free.
In a blind taste test, the cricket flour faired pretty well with volunteer testers this fall at Heritage Hall. “The biggest difference was an after-taste, an earthy taste,” DeGree said. “I would love to study the mixing of the flours to see when panelists can tell a difference or when adding more flavorings. Cricket flour does have a very distinct smell. It smells like dirt. But when it was in the brownies the panelists couldn’t smell a difference.”
Panelists did report a visual difference between the brownies because cricket flour is darker. Panelists mostly said they were neutral toward the cricket flour brownies. However, only about 19 percent of the panelists said they would buy the cricket flour brownies, compared to 63 percent for the wheat flour brownies.
Only the next day, after the taste test, did DeGree tell some of the panelists about the cricket flour. Many were surprised, and DeGree said she suspects had they known they likely wouldn’t have favored the cricket flour.
DeGree, of Oak Grove, Minn., did the research as part of an independent study class. She hit on the idea after Cynthia Rohrer, food and nutrition professor, went to the Minnesota State Fair and had tortilla chips made with cricket flour.
Advocates of cricket flour also point to the sustainability of cricket flour as a protein source. Crickets take one-tenth of the water and one-sixth of the food to get the same amount of quality protein as from beef, according to the website cricketflours.com.
DeGree was one of about 70 students presenting two dozen posters on Dec. 12 as part of the first College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences Research Day. Students from various programs in the college showcased their research.
“I think we really want the campus to see at the undergraduate level there are a lot of good things happening,” said Robin Muza, human development and family studies senior lecturer. “Research is not just a part of graduate courses. We want to showcase that research is happening and it is alive and well. Research can be about anything you want to research. A lot of sweat and tears go into these projects.”
Rohrer said Research Day gives students an opportunity to share and showcase their work with others.
Heidi Evanson, who graduated Dec. 15 with a degree in human development and family studies and is working at Brown County Child Protection as an ongoing unit social worker for families, researched at-risk youth with other students. “We spent a lot of time working on this,” Evanson said. “It’s awesome to see other people read it and get information about it. We’re hoping it can be a resource for others to help at-risk youth.”
Amy Lee and Aimee Vang, both human development and family studies seniors from Wausau, researched parental stressors of having an autistic child. The idea came up after Vang studied in Scotland this past summer and worked with an autistic child there. “I didn’t know how to interact with him, and it made me more aware how a child with autism interacts,” Vang said.
Their research determined that parents with autistic children do have stress. That stress can be both good and bad. “It can strengthen their relationship as a couple or weaken it,” Lee said.
Aarica Humke and Kristina Sojka researched self-esteem and perception of mistakes. Humke, a human development and family studies major from Greenwood, is graduating in May. Sojka graduated in human development and family studies Dec. 15. She is working at the Wisconsin Early Autism Project in Eau Claire as a behavioral treatment technician to help children with autism learn social and communication skills.
They decided to study how people react to mistakes because everyone makes them. They found that those with high self-esteem accepted their mistakes better. “They see it more as a learning experience, rather than a character flaw,” Sojka said.
The concern is that those with lower self-esteem may fear making mistakes and could develop atychiphobia, a fear of failure. “We need to be accepting as a culture of mistakes and to learn from them,” Humke said. “People who are really creative and innovation accept their mistakes. We don’t want people too afraid to take chances or try something new.”