The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Insect farming information

scorpion snack on a stick

I've been researching insect farming on and off for over a year now since I posted about the possibility of feeding meal worms to our chickens instead of the laying pellets we buy at the feed store.

worm chartWe've since settled on a black soldier fly direction, but I'm still interested in finding other easy to cultivate bugs. It turns out there's over 1400 insects that are known to be eaten by people all over the world.

Some experts predict a world population of over 9 billion by the year 2050. This prompted the United Nations to hold a meeting in Thailand back in 2008 on the subject of insect farming and how it might help to mitigate greenhouse gases and offer a substitute for meat in some countries. A world congress on the subject is being planned for 2013.

I'll bet a person could travel to a few Asian countries and learn a thing or two about insect cultivation with the right translator and an iron stomach.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I have been wondering what it would take to convince people in our Western culture to consider insects as an acceptable food source.
Comment by Trevor Sun Oct 3 23:33:59 2010

Maybe if they started serving them in the place of chicken nuggets at McDonalds?

More seriously, for me personally, I'd want to taste them in a tasty dish that someone else had made, sort of the way I got turned on to mushrooms and other things. Do you eat insects? What do you eat them in?

(Which is not to say I don't eat insects. Those cabbage worms on the broccoli sometimes make it into our diet... :-) )

Comment by anna Mon Oct 4 08:00:24 2010
I've definitely been thinking about this one! It was not too long ago that I thought... if people raise crickets for lizards and other pets, why not for themselves? I wouldn't mind raising them (insects) for the chickens, and if need be, for us. I can't say I've ever intentionally eaten insects (but I have eaten lots of seafood!) but I'd be willing to try. I would definitely rather have them prepared in a tasty dish, I think.
Comment by Sara Mon Oct 4 10:05:56 2010

Clearly we need to put together an insect recipe book. :-)

Or maybe talk local Chinese restaurants into adding insects to their buffets?

Comment by anna Mon Oct 4 12:14:58 2010

Count me out! :-/

Wat de boer niet kent dat vreet ie niet.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Oct 4 12:35:30 2010

I keep hoping that I'll be able to find the article I read sometime in the last few months about the vegan Buddhist monks who suddenly started getting sick when they stopped growing and started buying their vegetables. It turned out they were unwittingly consuming enough insects when growing their own food that they got some essential nutrients now missing from their diets.

Which is all to say --- if you don't know you're eating it, why yech? Think of it as a value-added product. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Oct 4 13:17:56 2010

Because there's a difference between unwittingly eating a bug in your greens and eating fried-scorpion-on-a-stick. :-)

Of course when you go down to bacteria &c, everyone is probably eating millions or billions of them a day on every kind of food. But since they're to small to see, nobody minds.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Oct 4 14:08:30 2010

I don't eat insects intentionally. I understand that they are the most efficient method of producing the nutritional value in terms of resource input.

I would think that it would be difficult to overcome the discomfort that people in general have with the concept of eating insects. I am keen on the idea in theory but am not sure myself if I could actually follow through.

Perhaps if we started with using them as nutritional supplements in current products?

Comment by Trevor Mon Oct 4 23:54:41 2010
I think that, realistically, feeding them to animals would be a very good start. Chickens are obvious candidates, but I wonder if our carnivorous pets could get some of that necessary animal protein from insects?
Comment by anna Tue Oct 5 08:07:51 2010


I can say that I am addicted to insects here in HCM City Viet Nam and have to eat them at least once a month in a well hidden but very popular restaurant. At first, I was just looking for something different to try, then after the first time, I keep coming back.

Comment by Minh Nguyen Tue Oct 5 10:57:19 2010
If you check back, please tell me more! What kind of insects are they? How were they prepared?
Comment by anna Tue Oct 5 14:26:03 2010
It's true that edible insects are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein but we should feed them to chickens, turkeys, pigs and other insectivorous farm animals who can then be slaughtered for their meat. This makes a lot more sense than telling humans to eat bugs.
Comment by Sustainable Agriculture Fri Apr 4 16:53:35 2014

I agree that probably the best way to go is to feed the bugs to animals and then harvest the animals, but I have just seen a couple of firms in the USA selling cricket flour and mealworm flour for human consumption. This is being said to be better protein than beef protein. I don't know how true this is, but I would like to find out more about breeding bugs for food, but can't seem to find much, especially not here in the UK. Gray

Comment by Gray Thu Jan 14 16:30:42 2016

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