A Bug's Life: Trial and Error
It's been about a month and a half since I built my insect farm, so let's talk about some of the successes and failures so far!
My biggest issue has been the mesh bottoms on my containers. Ideally, in a self-sorting farm eggs can easily fall to the larvae tray, and frass from the larvae can be collected in a bottom container. I have found, however, that a lot of eggs have been going straight through to the bottom container. This has lead to a decent sized population of mealworms in the bottom layer and a small population in the middle layer, where they should be. This can likely be avoided by using mesh with smaller openings, or collecting frass manually instead of with the self-sorting method. I have also been trying out fruits with different moisture content and this has lead to some causalities. Mealworms are sensitive to moisture, and I made the mistake of trying out oranges. I have found that apples and sweet potatoes work much better! I think the farm's biggest success so far is frass production. It is an excellent fertilizer and I have been using it to test out growth rates of basil seedlings and tomato plants.
Food for Thought: A Vegetarian's Case for Eating Insects
This month marks my 5 year anniversary of being vegetarian, so this week I want to talk about why insects as a food source intrigue me.
People cut meat out of their diets for countless reasons; from compassion for animals to solely wanting the health benefits, about 3% of the United States' population follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Personally, I went vegetarian after learning about the environmental impact of factory farming and watching documentaries such as Food, Inc. and Vegucated. Factory farming accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but this is only part of the problem. Cattle farming is responsible for 80% of the deforestation rate of the Amazon rainforest and uses a vastly unsustainable amount of water. Check out the charts below to learn more about how factory farming impacts the environment.
Insects are an overall more sustainable alternative to farming traditional livestock. It takes just 2 pounds of feed to produce one pound of insect meat, whereas beef takes 8 pounds of feed. Water and land consumption is also drastically lower. Insects have complete proteins and are more protein dense than common meat substitutes such as soy. As a vegetarian, I would make an exception for insects because they can be farmed ethically and sustainably.
Sustainability Spotlight: Masks
As Covid-19 cases in the United States continue to rise, it's important to wear masks to protect those around you. I've compiled some articles below with instructions on how to upcycle old clothing and materials into masks!