Grow-Your-Own Insects: The Latest Trend In Sustainable Eating

The latest innovation in the "grow your own food" movement is a kitchen appliance that can breed insects for your dinner.

After the Food and Agriculture Associations and the United Nations both decreed that we should be eating more bugs for various health, ecological, and economical reasons, eating insect-based protein has been all of the buzz, so to speak.

In a search for a sustainable alternative meat source, Austrian designer Katharina Unger has created a tabletop kitchen appliance called Farm 432, which "enables people to turn against the dysfunctional system of current meat production" by growing their own insect-based protein source at home.

How does it work? After 432 hours — hence the product's name —1 gram of black soldier fly eggs turns into 2.4 kilograms of larvae protein that self-harvest and fall into a harvest bucket, clean and ready to eat.

Because the black soldier fly adults don't need to eat, the larvae can be fed on bio-waste, therefore meaning that the production does not cost our environment any water or carbon dioxide, making the process very environmental friendly.

In terms of health, black soldier fly larvae are a low in fat and calories, and simultaneously are a great source of protein, calcium, and amino acids. While consuming protein-rich insects like the black soldier fly is commonplace in Mexico, Africa, China, and Southeast Asia, nutritionists and environmentalists have noted the difficulties involved in convincing Western countries to eat larvae for dinner.

The West is starting to catch up on the trend, however, with world-renowned Noma chef René Redzepi and Brazilian celebrity chef Alex Atala both exploring insect gastronomy on this seasons' menus.

In a world with a rapidly expanding population and similarly ever-increasing demand for meat, insect cuisine proposes a reasonable, albeit unfamiliar, solution.