Why in the World?
Why in the world is there this aversion to eating insects? I mean, after all, we eat terrestrial and
flying animal flesh, animal parts, fish parts, fish protein, snails, beef cheeks, pig's ears, eels, raw fish
and meat, turtle, alligator, and pretty much anything in between (not even considering that
man-made chemical roll up weirdness that is on the shelf ready for the school lunch box). So, why
in the world does the insect creep us out? I must say, I was somewhat included with this too.
Indeed, I was pretty arrogant while eating the chili powder dusted meal worm, and microwaved
black soldier fly larvae, and even the deep-fried cricket…delicious, crunchy, and a nice, savory flavor. But I grew less eager when presented with the less than notable insect community, and drew the line with the giant roach (who will outlive us all, by the way!)! So, you are definitely not alone!
So, okay-if we personally don’t eat them, then what do we do? As an intelligent, knowledgeable,
and resourceful population, we obviously acknowledge their nutritional value. We also acknowledge our responsibility in ensuring agricultural stability for our expanding global population. We are a
population of innovators and movers and shakers, and part of a global population who is dedicated
and really cares about imparting value and reason and innovative technologies to overcome these
superstitions and aversions. So, again-what do we do?
Well, we can feed those insects to our feedstocks. To our cattle, to our pigs, to our chickens, turkeys, guinea, and even to wildfowl. And we can feed them to our fish! The black soldier fly has been
approved by the American Association of Feed Control Officials for use as feed for salmon, trout, and other freshwater whitefish species. This is truly great because the US is the leading global importer of fisheries products, and we are increasing our local aquaculture production to meet some of the
demand. This increase in demand necessitates a sustainable fish feed of high nutritional value--and
this is where the black soldier flies come in. While this is a promising great start, we still need to
expand to many other fish species to help sustain the aquaculture industry, and offset the marine fisheries, who are near collapse.
But you know what else we do? We take a few colonies of these amazing efficient decomposers--
and we unleash them on the CAFO (those really large scale animal feeding
operations) manure waste. Do you know what that would mean? I certainly didn’t until I looked into the numbers. Livestock are responsible for roughly 18% of greenhouse emissions. And some really
large farms can produce as much as 50,000 kg waste/day! I was astounded. That is a lot of waste
that must be disposed of safely! But, black soldier fly larvae fill that need! They reduce nitrogen,
phosphorus, and dry matter of manure by about 50%, and converts that waste to proteins and lipids, and also potentially a high value fertilizer! AND it can reduce pathogens in the waste. As a
microbiologist, that was the first real grab. I was skeptical-because, well that is who I am. Skeptical. But they really do, and data has shown so. So, boom right there: Protein, potential for biofuel
development, waste management, converting waste to a high value commodity …AND holy cow-
nonmechanized harvesting! Low carbon footprint??!! WHAT??!!
MI N D B L O W I N G!
I never knew this existed. But now I do. I am so spellbound by the concept of a single insect-well
okay, along with a few helpful probiotic bacterial buddies along the way :), being able to do so much! I mean, the insect just does what it does naturally, and has little care to the enormous impact
potential it has on human and animal health and well-being!
I am excited to be able to witness the beauty of this all-natural system and to play a small part in
harnessing it for such innovative sustainable agriculture practices. But many more experiments need to be conducted towards understanding the processes leading to more efficient waste conversion,
increased proteins and lipids, biodiesel potential, nutritional quality and industrial/global specificity
and scale. And these are not things to be minimized. Each experiment will yield valuable data that
will lead to coalescence of methodology and products for humanitarian infiltration through all of
these systems. And of course, through all of this, I am particularly interested in how and where
microbes mediate these processes (definitely a whole other topic that I will be happy to get into
soon J)!! And we really need to get the word out! Educate people about insect farming and the
potential positive global effects! I am intrigued at the possibilities of the impact of one person,
a block, a neighborhood, a community, a city, a state, an area, a nation, a globe. I do not think I am
getting ahead of myself!
Heather R. Jordan
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Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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