As you might recall, this past spring the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization singled out insect farming as a low-maintenance and world hunger-combating alternative to resource-intensive meat production.
Beetles. It’s what’s for dinner.
Locusts: The other, other white meat.
Most of us were probably quick to dismiss the U.N.’s rather resolute entomophagy-pushing with a shudder, a cringe, or a restrained dry heave or two. After all, (non-accidental) insect consumption is strictly the stuff of state fairs, “Indiana Jones” movies, and “Fear Factor” reruns, right?
Eh, not really at all. Throughout the ages, cultures the world over have demonstrated a taste for insects and arachnids — crickets, cicadas, ants, scorpions, and the list goes on and on — prepared using various culinary techniques. It’s us squeamish Westerners that haven’t quite warmed up to the thought of dining on roasted chapulines, baked mealworms, and fried termites. Unless you've found yourself chowing down on pet store-purchased crickets in the privacy of your own home entomophagy remains taboo, a rather unappetizing epicurean novelty.
And then there’s Austrian industrial designer Katharina Unger. Marrying appliance design with entomophagy’s crucial role in the future of food security, this larvae-chomping Wiener — her past design concepts includ a souped-up accordion and a pasta-based vending machine — has created a humidifier-meets-ant-farm-esque tabletop fly incubator that yields a little over four (edible) pounds of protein-rich black solider fly larvae.
Quick, someone grab the A-1 Sauce.
Unger explains the basics of her domestic bug-breeding machine dubbed Farm 432:
By 2050 meat production will have to increase by 50%. Considering that we already use one third of croplands for the production of animal feed, we will have to look for alternative food sources and alternative ways of growing it. Farm 432 enables people to turn against the dysfunctional system of current meat production by growing their own protein source at home. After 432 hours, 1 gram of black soldier fly eggs turn into 2.4 kilogram of larvae protein, larvae that self-harvest and fall clean and ready to eat into a harvest bucket. This scenario creates not only a more sustainable future of food production, but suggests new lifestyles and food cultures.
Black soldier fly adults don´t eat, the larvae can be fed on bio waste, therefore the production almost costs no water or CO2. Black soldier fly larvae are one of the most efficient protein converters in insects, containing up to 42% of protein, a lot of calcium and amino acids.
Fascinating — there's more detail on how the machine operates in the below video — but inquiring minds want to know: What does one eat four pounds of black solider fly larvae with?
Speaking with Dezeen, Unger recommends a tomato risotto as pictured above. "I like to mix parboiled rice with wild rice together with the larvae, put a lot of tomato sauce in it and a bit of parmesan cheese. A bit of parsley or basil on top and you have a perfect meal." As for taste, Unger describes her home-grown larvae as being a “nutty and a bit meaty.”
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