Could homegrown larvae be the solution to food shortages in the future?
Food shortages are something that could eventually affect us all, which is why product designer Búi Bjarmar Aðalsteinsson has created a Fly Factory that breeds insect larvae for human consumption. To make the idea more appealing to our tastes, the designer has also created a selection of insect-infused dishes, which includes some delicious looking desserts.
The insect factory has been designed to not only produce zero waste, but also make use of materials that you would normally find in the trash. Food waste is used to feed the insects, a type of fly considered more sanitary because it has no mouth parts, while the nutrients they excrete are used to make fertilizer. Heat from the refrigerator that stores the larvae is also rerouted to keep the insects’ enclosure at a consistent temperature and humidity.
Aðalsteinsson was inspired by a United Nations report from 2013 that outlined how edible insects could become an important food source in the future. The report points out:
Edible insects have always been a part of human diets, but in some societies there is a degree of distaste for their consumption. Although the majority of edible insects are gathered from forest habitats, innovation in mass-rearing systems has begun in many countries. Insects offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in both developed and developing countries.
The fly factory was completed as part of Aðalsteinsson’s graduation project for the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. Before you write the idea off completely, just know that the designer assures everyone there is no distinct “bug” taste. It all depends on how you season them, which is really no different from most other foods we consume on a daily basis. Aware that most people won’t want a fly factory at home, Aðalsteinsson has aimed the concept at restaurants and the food processing industry.
Compared to other forms of meat, which require huge amounts of resources to produce, insect larva need five to 10 times less feed to produce the same amount of growth, and contain very similar amounts of protein, fat, and nutrients. There may come a point when meat is no longer an option, which could make the Fly Factory a particularly useful creation for the food industry of the future.
Images by Búi Bjarmar Aðalsteinsson