Helping you grow and harvest edible mealworms right on your kitchen counter, the world’s first desktop-sized insect hive aims to aid a rebranding of an unpopular but nutrient-rich source of protein.
The Livin Farm by Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger is just a few two feet tall and contains eight shelves for housing mealworms at various stages of growth, from egg and pupae to beetle.
The pupae mature in the top drawer, turning into egg-laying beetles. The eggs in turn fall through holes in the floor and grow into worms.
The key to the whole operation is a customized micro-climate within the case as well as a fan, filter and ventilation system. The insects themselves can subsist on vegetable scraps and other kitchen waste.
A button on the box vibrates the operation, separating insects from waste automatically rather than the conventional and less appealing way: sorting by hand. These are chilled in the bottom drawer for storage or can be frozen before being minced and boiled into meals.
Each harvest yields a few hundred grams with protein amounts roughly equivalent to similar weights of meat. The inputs are where the real savings is: less space, water and energy are needed for this system to work.
If the ‘yuck factor’ seems tough to overcome, consider for a moment the foods that have become popular over time across cultures, including the rise of sushi (raw fish and seaweed) in the United States and elsewhere.