"Crispy texture." "Neutral taste." "Nutty flavor." These are all phrases used by the Livin Farms Hive Kickstarter project to describe the experience of eating mealworms. For people used to buying food in plastic-wrapped sanitized containers, it may sound a little gross. But mealworms are packed with protein, vitamins and fiber and they don't hog up land resources like cattle do.
Are you sold yet? Ready to nosh on some mealworms? Livin Farms would like to sell you a Hive worm ranch for your kitchen counter for a $599 (about £400, AU$840) pledge.
The Hive consists of a series of drawers. Mealworm pupae start off in the top. They hatch into beetles. Those beetles get it on and lay eggs that fall down into an egg drawer below. The eggs turn into mealworms. You harvest and eat some of the worms and let some turn into pupae to put back into the top to start the process over.
A ventilation system helps to prevent odors while a dirt bin collects the worm waste in a separate area. The worms live off kitchen scraps like carrot peels, lettuce and leftover bread. The harvested worms go into your freezer. After that, they can be cooked in boiling water and then fried, roasted, dried or ground up to add into other dishes.
The Hive can produce around 7 to 18 ounces (about 200 to 500 grams) of worms per week once it ramps up to full production.
Livin Farms has already developed some Hive prototypes, but needs to raise $100,000 through crowdfunding to put the insect farm into production. Keep in mind that not all Kickstarter projects deliver on time and as promised. The project has attracted over $43,000 with 56 days left to go.
The Hive, of course, must battle against "Fear Factor"-style perceptions of eating worms. It's also pretty pricey to buy if you're not positive you'll enjoy the worm-noshing experience. If you're ready to try out a very alternative form of meat, then the Hive might be for you. Better start planning your worm-burger toppings.