Over two billion people eat insects as part of their traditional diet, meanwhile Western cultures have long forgotten about this nutritious and, YES, flavourful source of food.
Olympia Yarger is an Australian insect farmer determined to change this narrative. She is the founder and managing director of Goterra, one of just seven Insect-for-Food farmers in the country. It is no backyard operation either – Olympia has developed a fully automated farming system that produces over 250 kg of mealworms each month.
Her mealworms are farmed in shallow boxes that are stacked neatly into shelving units in a dark warm shed. A large robotic arm monitors their conditions and dispenses their food, although they are still checked daily by a small team of farmers.
At six weeks the mealworms are at their peak development stage and it is time to harvest. Carbon dioxide (dry ice) is used to rapidly and compassionately remove oxygen from the tubs2 after which the bugs are fresh frozen or dehydrated, depending on how they are going to be prepared. A small number of mealworms are set aside from each batch to develop into beetles and, in another month, each will have laid 200 to 300 eggs to renew the cycle.