Come on, admit it. When you come home from a long day’s work (or more likely when you already are home after a long day’s work), and you head to the kitchen looking to satisfy your hunger, what you most want to do is pop a few mealworms into your mouth. Right?
We didn’t think so. But while worms might not be the first thing you think of when you’re having a snack attack, Thomas Constant, the founder of Beobia is betting that enough people will, so he’s seeking funding on Kickstarter for a contraption known as Re_ (underscore included) that lets you grow and eat your own grub—make that grubs—at home.
To be fair, Constant isn’t betting that people are craving the taste of mealworms, which are supposed to be kind of nutty-tasting if that helps. He’s more concerned about global food shortages, lack of clean water across the world, and sustainable farming.
“We believe that we are living through a food-enlightening period, with consumers aiming to become more self-sufficient, reducing pressure on the global supply chain,” he said. “It’s all about what is available, sustainable, and affordable. Edible insects are well-placed to solve this global issue. Already, over two billion people around the world eat insects, and we expect to see the edible insect industry continue to grow in Western countries throughout the 2020s.”
As a source of protein, insects are much more efficient than larger animals such as cows. They can be raised in a small space (on your kitchen counter!), eat your food scraps, and deliver up to twice the protein in beef and 1.5 as much as chicken and fish. Compare that to cows that not only need large spaces to raise, but also drink up to 30 gallons of water per day and contribute to global warming thanks to their methane, um, off-gassing, and you can start to see the benefits of entomophagy—AKA bug-eating.
So how does the Re_ work?
It’s pretty simple. The device is nothing more than five stackable containers with one raised platform that sits in the middle. You have to start with some live mealworms, which aren’t included with the product but can be bought at a disturbingly large number of sites on the internet, including Amazon. You place your worms in a container and feed them your fruit and veggies scraps every 2-3 days. They will then turn into pupae (hungry yet?), at which time you move them to the platform. There they hatch into beetles, fall off the platform, and begin laying eggs in the container. Those eggs hatch into mealworms, and bam, you’re an insect farmer.
Harvesting requires you to sift the pupae from their poop, which is known as frass (yum!). Fortunately, a sieve is included for this purpose. The makers say the entire process takes about 10-15 weeks and yields 100-300 grams of mealworms.
While the whole thing might make you more queasy than hungry, it looks like there are enough people out there willing to give it a try. So far, Constant has pulled in close to USD 15,000 on the campaign, which is more than double his goal – and there are still a few weeks to go. If you want to get in on all the bug fun, you can get a single tray for GBP 35 or the whole kit for an early bird pledge of GBP 85.