BY: ALEX BROWN
On the surface mealworms seem like a more appropriate dish for Fear Factor than the family dinner table—most people don’t give it the breadth of thought it deserves. After all, it’s tough to say what arouses more distaste: the name ‘mealworms’, or their definition, “the larva of a darkling beetle.” Might as well be eating baby cockroaches, right?
Yet the founder of The Edible Insect Desktop Hive, Katharina Unger, makes a sound argument in an interview with fastcoexist.com. “A large percentage of our diseases originate in animal production houses. Growing your own means knowing exactly what you eat.”
Are mealworms, then, really any more disgusting than the blended mixture of cow ass and pig feet one might find in a hot dog? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “The raw meat materials used for precooked-cooked products are lower-grade muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible slaughter by-products.” Given more thought, and putting aside the normalization of the livestock industry, mealworms don’t look too shabby compared to the realities of the meat that ends up on most dinner tables each night. Unger’s Edible Insect Desktop Hive actually starts to look like the less-disgusting option.
People seem to be agreeing with Unger’s logic, with the total earnings from the LIVIN Farms Hive Kickstarter page surpassing its $100,000 goal. According to the Kickstarter page, The LIVIN Farms Hive grows 200 to 500 grams of “protein-rich super food” every week. This would be enough protein to replace the traditional meat portion of about 5 meals. Aside from protein, mealworms also contain essential amino acids, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B5, more fibre than broccoli and more vitamin B12 than eggs. Not to mention that the mealworm, compared to beef, requires only one tenth of the land use.
The LIVIN Farms Hive operates as a series of trays, which filters the mealworms down through the compartments according to the maturing process. The mealworms are also cultivated by feeding them vegetable scraps you would otherwise discard in your kitchen, which is not only economical but allows you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body. As for their taste, according to the Kickstarter page, “Their taste is quite neutral with a bit of a nutty flavor.” The page also notes that they would fare well as a salad topper, alternative burger patty, or even plain as a snack.
Though it may take a few years for this concept to take hold, LIVIN Farms Hive offers a unique benefit—self-sufficiency. Much like the growing popularity of DIY products like home aquaponics systems, the Farms Hive gives families autonomy, and the hands-on experience of food production that so many are beginning to adopt into their lifestyles.
Image sources: fastcoexist.com