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Farm 432: The handy kitchen appliance that breeds fly larva for protein

Farm 432: The handy kitchen ap...
Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a renewable protein source for less squeamish diners
Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a renewable protein source for less squeamish diners
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Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a renewable protein source for less squeamish diners
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Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a renewable protein source for less squeamish diners
The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later
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The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later
In the future, Unger plans to develop her farm further to support a greater variety of edible insects and possibly mass produce it as a consumer product
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In the future, Unger plans to develop her farm further to support a greater variety of edible insects and possibly mass produce it as a consumer product
Unger revealed the larva smell like potatoes when cooking, but have a nutty taste to them and can be added to many different recipes
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Unger revealed the larva smell like potatoes when cooking, but have a nutty taste to them and can be added to many different recipes
The bottom of the chamber contains several holes which provide either food, water, or a space to lay eggs
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The bottom of the chamber contains several holes which provide either food, water, or a space to lay eggs
Once the larva have matured, the resulting flies will drop down into the large, clear plastic chamber so they can mate and produce more larva
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Once the larva have matured, the resulting flies will drop down into the large, clear plastic chamber so they can mate and produce more larva
The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later
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The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later
Just one gram of black soldier fly eggs can yield 2.4 kg of protein over a 432-hour period, which is where the device gets its name
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Just one gram of black soldier fly eggs can yield 2.4 kg of protein over a 432-hour period, which is where the device gets its name
The Farm 432 itself resembles an empty water cooler with a compartment on top for adding the initial batch of larva
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The Farm 432 itself resembles an empty water cooler with a compartment on top for adding the initial batch of larva
Unger says the larva smell like potatoes when cooking, but have a nutty taste to them and can be added to many different recipes
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Unger says the larva smell like potatoes when cooking, but have a nutty taste to them and can be added to many different recipes

Flies are usually considered unwelcome guests in the kitchen, but one industrial designer is aiming to turn them into a renewable food source. Katharina Unger's Farm 432 concept is a fly-breeding device for home use that continually collects fly larva as a protein source for less squeamish diners. As unappetizing as it may sound, the designer hopes that convincing the Western world to add insects to its diet could help increase the planet's overall food supply.

Unger, an industrial design student at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, devised her concept of a self-contained fly larva farm as an alternative to factory livestock. According to her research, meat production will need to rise by 50 percent before the year 2050 to accommodate the world's growing population, which could in turn put a strain on croplands and the Earth's climate. Since breeding insects consumes less resources while producing more protein and nutrients per gram, harvesting them for food could be a viable solution.

Out of all the potential insects that can be safely consumed, Unger settled on black soldier fly larva, since they contain 42 percent protein along with high amounts of calcium, amino acids, and other nutrients. Just one gram of black soldier fly eggs can yield 2.4 kg of protein over a 432-hour period, which is where the device gets its name.

The Farm 432 itself resembles an empty water cooler with a compartment on top for adding the initial batch of larva
The Farm 432 itself resembles an empty water cooler with a compartment on top for adding the initial batch of larva

The Farm 432 itself resembles an empty water cooler with a compartment on top for adding the initial batch of larva. After the larva have matured, the resulting flies migrate into the large, clear plastic chamber so they can mate and produce more larva. The bottom of the chamber contains several holes which provide either food, water, or a space to lay eggs. Any eggs that are laid in these spaces drop down into another chamber, where they hatch and grow. Once they're able to move, the larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later.

As long as some of the larva are set aside and put back in the main chamber, the cycle can continue indefinitely with just a little bit of food to sustain them. It's estimated that fly-breeding farm could yield 500 grams of edible protein each week, or enough for two meals. Speaking with Dezeen, Unger describes the larva as smelling like potatoes when cooking, with a nutty taste that can be added to many different recipes.

The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later
The larva instinctively climb up a short tunnel, where they are trapped in a collection bucket to be consumed later

In the future, Unger plans to develop her farm further to support a greater variety of edible insects and possibly mass produce it as a consumer product. Of course, the most obvious hurdle for her fly-breeding device is convincing more people to eat insect larva, regardless of taste. That's a difficult concept for most Westerners to swallow under ideal circumstances, but especially when 500 grams of protein requires about 10,000 larva. On the other hand, insects do contain less calories than most sources of protein, so that could be a selling point.

The animated video below illustrates each part of Farm 432's cycle, from the fly chamber to your dinner plate.

Source: Katharina Unger via

27 comments
Scion
Sure, eating maggots is fun, but not attractive yet. However chickens and fish love them. Many people already breed bugs / maggots to feed to their fish or chickens. This contraption would put that capability into more people's hands which means better fed chickens and fish. Oddly, farmed fish are often fed ground up caught fish along with food crops. The flies could be bred using waste food that is no good for us or fish/chickens and the maggots to the farmed fish and chickens. What a great idea until it becomes cool to eat maggots.
Rocky Stefano
Simply not eating maggots. Maybe third world countries where food shortages are bad or in certain diets where they are eating insects already but western diets? Not happening.
Threesixty
Why not directly eat the "little bit of food that sustains" the insects? They will not return more than they consume unless of course it's the food that flies love....our excrement...and there's the reason for our innate distaste! The real answer to feeding the growing population is the understanding that our bodies can synthesise protein from grains, fruits and vegetables better than cows, chickens, fish, and insects. Eating second-hand protein is cheap and easy as long as there are subsidies to support the second-hand protein industry.
thk
I rather wait for the day when a home machine for growing my own filet mignon becomes a reality and affordable.
limbodog
Scion nailed it. Most westerners won't get within 10' of eating maggots. But they are excellent fish/chicken feed! And the larvae will help reduce your own bio-waste. Win/Win.
andyt
Memo to anyone who thinks first work people don't eat insects. Check out cheese in France and Italy -- it's more expensive if it has maggots. Check out Japan, China, Singapore and other countries. In most areas, insects (usually larvae) are more expensive than beef. For Jews, locusts are specifically named as kosher. It's true that we can eat grain, but not until it's processed -- by cooking or fermenting. We can eat meat, including insects, raw. Which is our natural food?
Fairly Reasoner
Does it come in any colors other than white?
Chizzy
Scion is right, use it as a food source. This seems like it could be an important component of an aquaponics system. i.e. http://www.gizmag.com/globe-hedron-rooftop-fish-farm/22492/ I'd prefer to see it completely automated. Simply have a hopper where you drop your fish waste (the bits of fish you don't eat) that feeds into the larva machine, which feeds into the fish machine, which feeds into the hydroponic machine. Other than harvesting, the rest would be self sustaining, self powered (via solar), and self monitoring. I'm a lazy gardener, but I like my food fresh too.
StWils
This is an exceptionally disgusting idea that is just a few steps away from bringing Soylent Green to market.
Don Duncan
The two most nutritional foods are coconut and avocado. They can be eaten raw or with very little processing. And they combine well with other nutritional foods such as chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Boycott processed commercial cocoa (cacao) and eat raw cacao power or butter and enjoy a superfood that elevates mood (legally). Starving people eat maggots. We can join them or raise them out of poverty. Not with charity, but with knowledge. Poverty is caused by economic restrictions, i.e., government regulation. The USSA has been transformed from the richest economy to 16th worldwide by increased economic control. Wherever you see greater economic freedom, you see a higher standard of living. There can be no "balance" of freedom and control. Either we have a right to be free, or not.