DON’T THINK OF IT AS EATING BUG BABIES. THINK OF IT AS PROTEIN GARDENING.
As the population grows, so, too, will its hunger for meat. By 2050, meat production will need to surge by 50% to quell demand. The only problem is, producing so much (red) meat is already an environmental nightmare. And we simply might not have the resources to scale.
Meanwhile, Katharina Unger is planning to invite her friends over to a barbecue. (Really.) The University of Applied Arts Vienna grad has built a pretty impressive domestic insect-breeding concept called Farm 432. Over the course of 432 hours, with just a few food scraps, she can coax 1 gram of black soldier fly eggs into 2.4 kilograms of larvae protein. And if you listen to Unger long enough, her arguments are pretty convincing as to why we should all be growing fly larvae at home.
“Black soldier flies themselves do not eat, they just drink. And they do not transmit any disease to humans. Unlike normal house flies they usually do not sit on food and they do not sting or bite, either. They also fly very slowly, so in case one should escape it is easy to catch them.”
Over their eight-day lifecycle, soldier flies need space to fly around, mate, and lay eggs. In response, Farm 432 has a bulbous sphere at the end, connected to the "fly fun park" nozzles. These nozzles were designed after insect-attracting plants like the Rafflesia, and serve several functions. They waft in food waste from another chamber, convincing the flies that this will be a safe place for their offspring to thrive. And they provide a spot to lay eggs. Eventually, when the larvae hatch inside, they’ll fall through a hole to the food source below.
The flies use the bubble area to live. They lay their eggs in the blue funnels. The eggs hatch into larvae, which fall into food scraps. And eventually, the larvae climb their way out… (Click Image To Enlarge)
“There they feed on biowaste or whatever you feed them on and wriggle around for around 14 days. They then want to clean themselves and find a dry and secure place to pupate, that’s why they climb up the migration ramp. This is when they fall into the collection bucket for harvest.”
From here, it’s bon appetit. The larvae have a nutty, almost meaty flavor, Unger says, and her favorite dish is a tomato larvae risotto. But as tasty as it may be, and as well as Farm 432 may work, Unger admits that the design challenge is only part of making such an idea a success.
“With my design I am proposing a new lifestyle. It’s about a potential new Western culture of insect eating and breeding. It’s about making people aware that there is a great variety of food on our planet that we rarely consider.”
COMMENTARY: This sure looks yucky to me, but if you are into eating insects for the nutrition, I could easily see where you could buy a dozen of these Farm 432 units and grow different bugs to suit your individual taste buds. Nothig like bugs as a garnish for your favorite rice dish. Yuck!!
Courtesy of an article dated July 29, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design