Chickens are an obvious option but what really stuck out to me was the opportunity for feeding farmed fish. Farmed fish need protein to grow (duh) and the protein they are fed is generally fishmeal made up of smaller "worthless" fish caught by commercial fishing vessels. The problem is that it takes 5 lbs of fishmeal to grow a pound of farmed fish. Not very sustainable if farmed fishing is supposed to protect wild fish populations. Fishmeal fetches a price between $1500 and $2000 per metric ton , so there is a market for a viable replacement.
In the end, I realized I was basically redesigning a company that a fraternity brother had started several years earlier - Grubbly Farms . All this is to say that I think insects as a protein source are very exciting and I look forward to seeing how the industry evolves.
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escamol
2 - https://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=fish-meal&...
3 - https://grubblyfarms.com/
Wanted to add that for a while I've toyed with the idea of using BSF larvae to feed trout in an aquaculture/aquaponics system. The biggest issue for me is that trout require a much lower stocking density than most other fish suitable for aquaculture. I'm just not into tilapia.
Any idea where to find this delicacy in California?
> what really stuck out to me was the opportunity for feeding farmed fish. Farmed fish need protein to grow (duh) and the protein they are fed is generally fishmeal made up of smaller "worthless" fish caught by commercial fishing vessels.
> Fishmeal fetches a price between $1500 and $2000 per metric ton , so there is a market for a viable replacement.
You want to replace $2,000 / ton fishmeal with $100,000 / ton escamoles? How are you planning to convince anyone to do that?
You make 2 assumptions here that don't really make sense in context of the comment:
1) That escamoles are 1:1 replaceable with fishmeal in terms of feeding fish.
2) That the price of escamoles would not go down if industrially farmed
Chicken are fed with soybeans. What would you feed ants so you can feed them to chicken in turn that would be more efficient?
The fish aspect seems more reasonable, if we can't figure out how to feed farmed fish with plant products.
What do they eat? Only the highest quality pre-consumer food waste will do. Rather than using animal by-products, we link up with juice bars, bakeries, breweries, and the likes to divert their food waste. While a mushy banana may not seem appetizing to you, our grubs would happily do the honors.
...why? I guarantee the ants don't care about this.
So if your food waste contains heavy metals (as another example) and you feed that to the ant larva and in turn feed the ant larva to fish, you're likely to end up with fish that have high levels of heavy metals.
Are you worried about chicken bones getting thrown away along with lead and mercury, and picking those metals up before being fed to the ants?
I grew up on a chicken and sheep farm. Between letting the chickens roam the vegetable part of the farm area and eat bugs (bonus: we didn't need pesticides) and feeding them our organic food waste, we basically spent nothing on chicken feed. I found out about chickens being zealous cannibals accidentally when I was a kid taking the trash out to feed them. We'd had fried chicken for dinner, and I wasn't thinking about it and just threw all the bones into the feeder like I always did with the food trash. They went berserk over those chicken bones. They absolutely loved them. It was a shark-style feeding frenzy. I was weirded out by that for a while.
It was a pretty small operation though. OP's idea for chickens might make sense in a factory farm situation where there's no space to let them roam for bugs. And maybe the logistics of getting them fresh trash don't make a ton of sense.
We used the chickens for eggs mostly and meat when they stopped laying. We used the sheep for meat every spring. We would trade with the neighbors in exchange for helping farm our vegetable crops or fresh milk from the small-ish dairy farm down the road. It wasn't the kind of thing where we were selling to a grocery conglomerate or anything.
Probably none of our farming practices would have been acceptable at scale. But that wasn't our point. It was mostly just for our family. Honestly, not the worst way to grow up. You farm your own food and slaughter your own meat. You learn a certain respect and appreciation for what sustains you.
But anyway, yeah, I don't know what the rules are if you're selling your livestock. Feeding them trash probably isn't allowed, even though it's efficient.
(edit) gender neutral
I would hazard a guess that for most western cultures, it's probably easier to convince people to replace meat with plant-based food than it is to replace meat with bugs. So if we want insect-based foods to take off, I feel like there's got to be some fundamental advantage over just switching to a vegetarian diet. Maybe that advantage exists; I just don't know what it might be.
The reason that I am currently (as in, right now) building a soldier fly breeding box to mass produce these larvae is that the exit ramp of the box goes directly into the chicken run.
The conversation that spurred this was a thought experiment wherein a friend and I wondered how we might keep our flocks going in the absence of chicken feed available for purchase.
It's easy for him: He lives on many acres of flat, tillable land in Minnesota - if he wants his chicken flock to be self-sufficient he can just grow and harvest corn.
Our ranch is in Marin County, however, and while I have more than double the amount of land he does, very, very little of it is flat and almost zero is tillable. We're not going to take the precious 2-3 acres of flat land we have and grow corn in rows on it.
Hence the soldier fly larvae breeding operation.
As for efficiency, we are converting food scraps to larvae to chicken eggs. So the original input is "free" but there are then two animal conversions involved to produce the chicken egg since we have no intention of eating the larvae themselves.
Realistically, using them as a food source for farmed fish and poultry is much more likely. Although obviously less efficient in a gram for gram basis.
1. Container full of food scraps, bio waste, and carbon scraps arrive from city, get spread over fallow land
2. Maggots are released, reproduce, ingest meat scraps
3. Chickens are introduced into environment, eat maggots and larger scraps, release compost as manure and scratched bedding
4. Remaining maggots and waste is collected, maybe dumped to tilapia or pigs
5. Replenished field is plowed for cash crop, nitrogen releasers, or untouched for a season to allow grasses to grow as grazing land
EDIT: Admission time - I wrote this article before reading the article about the maggot cultivating process. I'm just a little passionate about armchair-ecology. Maybe this process could be completed in a mobile facility that moves from acre to acre on a monthly basis?
> An acre of land used to raise soldier fly colonies can produce more than 60,000kg of protein per year, according to various peer-reviewed estimates. That’s several orders of magnitude greater than the per-acre protein yield of cattle (about 18kg), soybeans (430kg) or chickens (816kg).
At least from a land density POV, it wins hand over fist.
What if it's not 50% but only 10%? How do you feed the insects then?
What if different breweries output different quality waste? Some is too watery, some too thick. Is it now worth it to reprocess this waste to make it usable? Is the collection and processing of this waste cheaper than just growing food for the flies?
We need to acknowledge that the requirements of 'almost-perfection' required in our recycling stream is something we built into it. We had reusable systems that operated without issue for decades that we discarded in favor of modern co-mingled recycling (which is obviously failing us). There's no rule of recycling or reusing that says the parent material needs to be pristine in its condition to be recycled, thats a rule we introduced because of how 'we' thought to do recycling. We could build re-usability back into our systems, we are choosing not to do so.
“They’re generalists,” Tomberlin says, and eat just about anything. Pig manure? Check. Human waste? Check. Food scraps? Check. The only organic materials they haven’t had luck with are bones, hair and pineapple rinds, he says.
BSFs are going to create castings as well. In a large operation you probably get both.
20g of protein in a cup of cooked lentils sounds pretty adequate to me. At 180lbs, it's only recommended that I get 63g of protein. It's not a challenge. I get almost half that in a single lentil salad including any other plant matter I toss in there with its own amino acid profile.
After all the diet recommendations and panics about obesity, I still think most of us know what healthy eating is.
Are you sure that was the evidence you wanted?
Meanwhile there’s been a decades long marketing campaign to sell people on eating all the animal fat and protein they want with the dubious promise of weight loss and that always being healthy. Also decades long increases in cardiovascular diseases and death.
Plants, specifically, often have less leucine than animals, which is an important signalling molecule that feeds into mTOR as well as protein synthesis regulation.
This doesn't make plant protein 'bad', but it is something to consider, especially if using a plant-based diet.
Beans (and other non-animal) proteins are not "complete", meaning they lack certain things that the human body needs to be healthy.
Edit: For those saying it's untrue, the research has been done to prove it. Of course, you're free to deny any research and reach your own conclusions, but that doesn't make it untrue.
Edit 2: I just stated a fact in answer to a question. I did not provide any context, such as individual eating habits, beyond what was implied by the question. The fact is that bean proteins are not as good for us as animal proteins when compared directly.
On a related note, I came across Nixtamalization recently. It's one of those stories reminiscent how the Royal Navy managed to 'forget' the cure for scurvy. It had been practiced for thousands of years in South America but when the western countries discovered maize they didn't understand why. Turns out it's responsible for making maize a complete protein source.
You're basically suggesting that people need to vary their diet with at least two things instead of one thing. I don't know anyone who struggles with that except maybe poor uni kids where eating beans would likely be an upgrade to their normal cuisine.
The setting is on a train during an ice-age so they really need to make use of the space efficiently. They don't really go into what the cockroaches eat, I can only assume waste from the population.
My guess is that is how things would play out with insects as food for humans in the real world, too. The poor will have to eat grubs and crickets "for the environment" while the rich continue to eat as and what they please.
This is my guess based on my experience of how food works in the UK. If you can afford it, you can eat fresh fruit and vegetables, or the best cuts of meat. If you can't, then tough: it's kebabs, sliced bread that's high in trans fats, sugars and salts, and at best tinned veg and fruit, for you.
What? In continental Europe vegetables, fresh or tinned, are by far the cheapest option. Meat is always expensive.
In fact (AFAIK) in some countries outside of the US it's not even uncommon/surprising. That's what I thought was weird: the director was Korean. IIRC there's Asian cultures that eat scorpions or other similar stuff.
I learned a lot, and the peppers were delicious.
SFMHPP? (Soldier Fly Maggot High Protein Powder)
I suspect some variation of the latter is how this will get into the food chain. Identifiable insects get in the news, but it'll probably be as an additive where it sees most use. After all what percentage of chicken is sold as actual whole pieces of chicken rather than reformed, breaded, sauced, otherwise processed meat?
Micro-veal! Bam, now it's fancy.
Um, great marketing there folks.
Editing to say he did eat grubs on one episode and said something along the lines of it feeling like a massive pop of pus in his mouth. I swore then I would never follow suit.
(If you like British Isles trad music and are curious to check out Llan de Cubel, start with the tune set San Roque.)
Does anyone have experience getting over this?
When I saw a video of how sausages were made much later in my life, it didn't have the same queasy feeling since I have eaten and enjoyed sausages from childhood. My brain says that the way sausages are made is _far_ more disgusting than the way these larvae are produced, but my stomach doesn't feel the same way.
Let's help guide the next generation's stomachs in the right direction. In the meantime, I'll see if I can get used to eating some kind of ground-up bug meal.
Actually, I wonder why we find bugs disgusting (from an evolutionary perspective). I mean, presumably they're "dirty", but isn't that why we invented cooking?
I suppose you could argue the acceptability of it? people get on with their lives and diets though, it doesn't occupy the same space as eating maggots, can we agree on that.
Cooked maggots would seem like something adaptable to food, they have the appearance of rice after all.
It's just the fact that when you encounter maggots in a trash can or something, whatever they are eating is rotten and smells so putrid you associate them with that smell.
Not to mention Buddhist monks in some Asian countries were effectively vegan because dairy was just not part of their diet.
Besides that, though low in numbers, veganism has been active in the West for several generations.
So veganism has been tested alot more than, for example, the relatively new practice of eating meat and dairy contaminated with antibiotics and HGH.
and they do use the flies as chicken/fish feed.
We could try plant based diets for everyone, and if done correctly that would increase health, but it's possibly tricky to do.
Supplementing a plant based diet with entomophagy could feed the world at considerably lower carbon footprint than current meat based diets.