Have you ever discovered a solution to a once vexing problem, only to have it seem obvious in hindsight? We may be there when it comes to finding a solution to food scarcity, the financial struggles of farmers, and climate change! And the hero in this story isn’t anyone new either. In fact, they’ve been around for about 250 million years.
Everyone, meet the Black Soldier Fly: they may change the world! With very little money, time, space, water, or really any other resource at all, this one insect can entirely change how we deal with our food and waste!
Prepare to be wowed by the efficiency of this tiny creature as we take a trip to see how they will find their way to our doorsteps, the impact they’ll have on agricultural models small and large, and how shockingly fast they can tear apart a burger.
Okay, so imagine one day you’re working on your farm, struggling to make ends meet, and then you see a tiny Black Soldier Fly all dressed up in a little suit coming up the lane holding a resume. It would read a little something like this:
- Only alive for a few weeks, but can repopulate quickly.
- Can eat tons of food waste. Literally, tons of waste.
- Don’t need water! No thank you!
- As an adult I have no mouth. (Can’t bite or spread disease!)
- Efficient in small cramped places.
- 40% protein, 40% fat
- Ducks love me
- Chickens love me
- Fish love me
- And my poo is a great fertilizer.
Would you hire them?
We’re going to hear from a few of their references in the following two short videos. They seem to have nothing but great things to say about these little workers!
The solutions to our problems aren’t in creating more. It’s in looking at what we have around us and finding new ways to harness the potential already here.
And our planet is absolutely crawling in bugs. They’re the building blocks of entire ecosystems and the all-natural built-in recycling system of the world. Every one of them is specialized for what they do—absolute masters at it—and the Black Soldier Fly just so happens to be great at eating.
In a world where food waste is an all too common accumulation (beer and alcohol production leftovers, produce from grocery stores that goes bad, restaurant scraps, and so on) the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly gladly tackles the problem.
And what’s left over after they tackle it is a rich, totally smell free, fertilizer!
Then, the larvae can be consumed; mostly turned into high protein feed for ducks, chickens, and fish, reducing the cost of feed for farmers!
It’s a closed loop, exceptionally efficient system that requires only a few square feet to complete. Really, any one of us could begin doing this!
Our first video brings us to a small farm in British Colombia, Canada that’s been radically changed by introducing Black Soldier Flies to their operation! Then, we get a look at Enterra; a larger, more industrial insect protein producer, that’s been working on creating more sustainable food for animals with insects since 2007.
The National from CBC brings us these stories and helps us learn more about these awesome little critters. Take a look:
A renewable resource with seemingly endless benefits? And it’s been hanging out doing these exact things for so long? Seems like a no-brainer in hindsight, doesn’t it?
Really, there are three main parts of Black Soldier Fly’s life: eating, growing, and reproducing. As larva, they are meant to eat food waste; they literally live for it. And as adults, they have no purpose except to reproduce wildly.
Why should we care?
They are able to complete their life cycle for countless generations with no downside, our planet gets healthier, and we save money and resources. Seems like a win-win for everyone!
“There are limited resources on this planet. There’s only so much arable land we have to grow crops and food for people; there’s only so much water we can utilize. And so I think it’s really important that the world is looking for more sustainable ways of growing our food.” — Victoria Leung, VP of Operations at Enterra
Enter: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automation, and the Black Soldier Fly.
You know that when technology enters the picture, things are about to pick up speed. And that’s what we’re seeing with Entocycle, the first automated insect protein farm in the UK. Let me introduce you to them first with a snippet from their mission:
“We’re developing the world’s most efficient and sustainable system to produce protein. We turn local food waste into protein-rich insects to feed animals. Protein from insects is a sustainable alternative to the significantly more land and water intensive soy or fishmeal. Our technology combines automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring world-leading efficiencies to protein production. We aim to help bring an end to the mindless destruction of the natural world, and hope to one day see much of the land currently dedicated to soy production returned to the wild.” 2
So there’s one more problem these insects are solving: the deforestation of swaths of land for large scale agriculture.
Did you catch in the first video that the insects in the duck’s food were replacing, or at least reducing the amount of the expensive soy feed needed? They’re coming at it two-fold, reducing both the amount of money the farmers need to spend on feeding their animals as well as the need for land to grow the soy on in the first place.
And Entocycle is helping to make this happen in a big way.
By combining nature with technology, they’ve been able to come up with a hyper-efficient, completely scalable insect protein operation that can be implemented virtually anywhere in the world.
There really doesn’t seem to be a limit to it. This video from Mashable brings us into Entocycle’s amazing operation with their founder and CEO, Keiran Whitaker!
“And the best thing is is that insects are just the natural food for animals. How do you catch a fish? You put an insect on the end of a hook. Chickens are free range, they’re always running around the field eating insects because that is the way nature feeds animals. It’s simple.” —Keiran Whitaker, Founder and CEO of Entocycle
And make sure you check out more great content from Mashable over on their channels!
There are so many ways to team up with nature!
Raptors can help us protect our food from pests, oysters, clams, and mussels can help us clean the ocean, fire ants show us the possibilities of stronger materials in our future, bees are producing our food, and bacteria can save our lives.
If our focus was on creating these relationships and connections, instead of on creating “new” products and systems, how much more do you think we’d get done? How many stressors would be smudged out?
There are solutions out there, and most of the time they’re in the form of the creatures living, breathing, and surviving right next to us.
You really have to hand it to this planet we’re on; its problem-solving skills are off the charts. We can almost always find a solution for every quandary we face if we look closer at the design of our world. And it seems we’re getting there!
As always, stay open to new possibilities!
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein
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- “How Farmers Are Breeding Flies in Order to Become Waste-Free | The Fix.” YouTube, CBC News: The National, 7 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-R37E1kiE4. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019. ↩
- “Mission.” Entocycle, www.entocycle.com/mission. Accessed 6 Mar. 2019. ↩
- “This London Farm Is Growing Millions of Soldier Fly Larvae for a Very Good Reason.” YouTube, Mashable, 15 Feb. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR99xebr_bs. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019. ↩