Nutrition is a can of worms!
Only this time, it is a good thing
500 grams. This is the amount that everybody eats on average in insects per year. Yes, you do too! No, not while riding your bicycle with an open mouth or sleeping. Insects are in our everyday food- in frozen vegetables, juices, soups and even in chocolate! They get into the food chain by being in fruits and vegetables that get processed into different kinds of foods. There is even a governmental index on how many insect fragments are allowed in it.
Although you are currently eating them by accident, you should maybe consider making them part of your everyday diet.
There are over 1800 edible insect species in the world and they are eaten as a food source in 80% of countries worldwide including countries in Africa, Southern America and Asia in some fashion. It’s only in the West that we are not yet quite comfortable with the idea of eating insects.
Why consider eating insects?
Researchers have found out that insects are actually equally or more nutritious than other meats, while requiring only a fraction of the land and resources that it typically takes to produce traditional livestock products.
Growing sustainable food is one of the greatest challenges of our century. We need new methods and technologies to feed the world!
People do not know what they eat, but they should! The way meat and animal products are currently produced makes us and the environment sick. Livestock is a key factor for climate change. A large percentage of our diseases originate in animal production houses.
1/3 of valuable fertile croplands are currently used only to feed the grains harvested for animals and 80% of antibiotics worldwide flow into livestock production. While seeking alternatives to industrially produced foods, many of us would prefer to avoid GMOs or pumping animals full of hormones.
There is a need to find solutions that make the current model of producing meat obsolete. And insects will be one of these.
Starting this food revolution out of your kitchen
Austrian company “LivinFarms” took this as an opportunity for action and developed what they call the “Hive,” a tabletop insect farm that lets you grow edible insects (mealworms) in your home. With an automated controlled microclimate and closed lifecycle you can grow 3-4 mixed meals a week in the LivinFarms Hive™. This replaces about the same amount of protein that you would otherwise consume in 500g of meat, animal products or other protein foods.
This project started when founder Katharina Unger left her little home village on the border between Austria and Hungary to venture into the world as an industrial designer. She ended up in Hong Kong where she realized that most of the food there was imported and almost no one knew where it came from. That´s why she started to investigate the current food system and looked into alternatives. Insects were one of the future proteins that were very promising and perfect to create a solution for people to grow their food independently at home.
Her first project and design was called “Farm432” and was a design rearing the black soldier fly larvae. This took her all around the world, for example working on insect breeding in Africa and Hawaii. After more prototyping and a Beta manufacturing trial for a research institute in Malaysia earlier this year she founded a new company, Livin Farms, dedicated only to growing edible insects. Longtime friend and design partner Julia Kaisinger joined the team as a co-founder permanently and the redesign and development of the Hive followed. Now Livin Farms is excited to manufacture it and carry on with their mission to bring insects into everybody´s homes! They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to collect pre-orders in order to fund manufacturing.
How does it work?
Together with the Hive™ you receive a starter kit of their microfoods™ (mealworms to be grown in the Hive). You put them into your Hive™ and start growing and feeding your mealworms with vegetable scraps from your kitchen and some oats. No need to buy expensive feed for them additionally. The microclimate inside the Hive™ is controlled so that they have enough fresh air and the right temperature to grow well. The harvest is then activated by a button. In current breeding setups, the lifestages of the mealworm have to be laboriously separated from each other and from the food and frass. LivinFarms developed a technology that, with the help of mild vibration, separates them so that you can harvest only the fresh, pure product.
What is the mealworm?
The mealworm is the larval stage of the meal beetle (Tenebrio molitor). The adult beetles mate and lay eggs of which little mealworm babies hatch. These grow into a mealworm of the size you like to eat. Some of them will transform into pupae and be separated once you activate the harvest process. The pupae will become beetles again. That´s why you put them into the pupation chamber again to restart your lifecycle.
To learn more about the Hive™ mealworm farm and support the LivinFarms team in their Kickstarter campaign, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1468268424/l-i-v-i-n-hive
Katharina grew up raising chickens, cows and horses on the border of Austria and Hungary. Noticing the dramatic state of our food system while living in Hong Kong, she is now determined to “design nature for humans;” her first product that she is developing with her company Livin Farms is the world’s first tabletop device for edible insects. Katharina is a Fulbright alumna and an award winning industrial designer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.