An Austrian designer has created a table-top insect breeding kitchen appliance that can produce 2.4 kilograms of larvae protein and serve as an alternative grow-your-own source of protein for families. Industrial designer Katharina Ungers Farm 432 has been getting a lot of media buzz for turning a UN recommendation -- eat insects -- into a household appliance which she hopes will one day become as useful and banal in kitchens as food processors and blenders.
Heres how it works: after 432 hours, one gram of black soldier fly eggs will multiply into 2.4 kg of larvae protein. The organic, self-harvest larvae drop into a small container and are ready to eat, be it as a crunchy topping on risotto or pan-fried as a meat substitute for stir-fries or snacks. One weeks worth of harvest (500 g) produces enough larvae for about two meals.
For years, meanwhile, the UNs Food and Agriculture Organization has been touting edible insects like beetles, caterpillars and wasps as alternative sources of protein to meat in light of current consumption rates around the world. A burgeoning middle class in China and an overall global population growth, for instance, are driving meat consumption to unsustainable rates.
Its estimated that by 2050, meat production will have to increase by 50 percent to meet the worlds protein needs. But while insects are common food staples in other parts of the world like Mexico, Africa, China and southeast Asia, experts acknowledge it may be a challenge to convince squeamish Western palates to tuck into a plate of larvae. Unless, that is, its being served up at one of the hottest dining destinations in the world.
Danish chef René Redzepi, whose Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named the worlds best restaurant three times, likewise shares Ungers philosophy, and is exploring insect gastronomy as part of his R & D center, the Nordic Food Lab. Brazilian celebrity chef Alex Atala of D.O.M. likewise features lemongrass-flavored Amazonian ants on his menu.
Not only do insects serve as rich sources of protein, theyre also low in calories. For example, 100g of insects is 72 percent protein and clock in at 96 calories and 16 per cent fat. The same weight in beef is 52 percent protein, and clocks in at 285 calories and 48 per cent fat.