(Credit: Katharina Unger)
An Austrian design graduate has created a tabletop breeding farm for flies that you can harvest for food.
Many people keep a small kitchen garden where they can grow their own herbs and vegetables. Some people are even lucky enough to have space for a few egg-laying chickens. Animal-based protein, however, is a little trickier to produce at home — unless, that is, you want to start eating bugs.
Farm 432 by Austrian design graduate Katharina Unger has created a home breeding farm for harvesting your very own edible insects. Called Farm 432, it consists of several chambers. Unger tested it with black soldier flies, commonly bred for use in composting or animal feed. Live larvae are dropped into a small chamber at the top called the "Birthday Box", where they mature into adult flies, moving into the large, clear chamber. As adults, the flies reproduce, and their eggs drop down into the bottom chamber to incubate. From there, the larvae crawl up into the collection pot, where they become trapped, ready to harvest and eat, with a few put back in the Birthday Box at the top to start the cycle all over again.
The larvae eat bio waste — anything you would normally throw in the compost bin — and the adult flies don't eat at all, meaning that the entire production system is low cost and low maintenance.
But Unger didn't create her system just because she likes the taste (a bit nutty and meaty, apparently). Experts have been pushing insects as an alternative source of protein, particularly since global meat production is expected to at least double by the year 2050.
Farm 432 enables people to turn against the dysfunctional system of current meat production by growing their own protein source at home," Unger said. "After 432 hours, one gram of black soldier fly eggs turn into 2.4 kilograms 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 larvae are one of the most efficient protein converters in insects, containing up to 42 per cent of protein, a lot of calcium and amino acids."
The farm produces around 500 grams of larvae each week; enough for two meals. And, according to Unger, black soldier flies are just one species out of a possible 1000 edible insects. Different breeding farms could be developed for different regions, depending on what's available.
It certainly seems like a pretty eco-friendly solution; however, we think Unger has her work cut out for her trying to convince the Western world to chow down on bugs. Maybeis a better way to go.