You might expect to see people eating bugs on some reality show competition, but certainly not in homes or restaurants… right? Think again – the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations promotes the idea, and foodies in the Western world are trying out a variety of edible insects. These little critters are chock-full of nutrition, and require little space, effort or expense for farming. Compare this to, say, growing a cow or a pig yourself, and you’ll understand why 2 billion people around the world already practice entomophagy (the fancy word for “eating bugs”).
But do you just go out into the yard and start picking up the bugs you find? No – that wouldn’t be very efficient. Insects do reproduce quickly, though, so a system for farming them could produce quite a bit of edible protein in a relatively short amount of time. That’s the idea underlying the Open Bug Farm, a open-source insect production system created by startup Tiny Farms. I’ll let them explain:
Growing Edible Insects at Home with the Help of a Global Community
The Open Bug Farm isn’t just a product for sale; it’s a platform for bringing bug farming into the developed world. So, while you can simply purchase a mealworm kit (their first, and so far only, product), Tiny Farms aims to not only make plans available for free to you DIYers, but to also gather information from users of the Farm to improve existing products, and create new ones. Currently, info sharing seems limited to a wiki; ultimately, the Farms will incorporate sensors that send data back to the company automatically. The founders of Tiny Farms want to take their own experience in the open-source software community, and apply it to edible insect farming… and, despite the obvious differences, it looks like they’re onto something.
So, ready to start to growing the ingredients for your own mealworm burgers? Or feed for the backyard chickens? If you’ve toyed around at all with farming insects for your own consumption, or that of other animals, let up know about it.
UPDATE: Here’s an account of one family’s experience with capturing and eating insects… thanks for sharing, Cheryl Magyar!
Image credit: sixintheworld via photopin cc