Universal Basic Nutrition using Insects
Or how to feed the world with insects
Resource efficient basic nutrition to feed everyone in the world, that’s what Team UBN builds on the Odyssey Hackathon in Groningen by creating autonomous systems for sustainable food.
Big words, almost unimaginable, unless you “image you’re a single parent, your children lack basic nutrition and aid organizations try to help you, but the process is unreliable and corrupt.”
The words spoken by the UBN-team are in preparation of the pitch they have to hold later on Sunday afternoon, April the 14th. The day the jury gives its final verdict on the final results on who wins the Nature 2.0-track.
The problem the team tackles is feeding people in areas where food is not around in abundance. They want to do this by introducing autonomous farms where they can make the greatest impact, namely post crisis zones, like refugee camps, where people suffer from malnutrition.
When the lack of basic nutrition is dealt with, people have time to spend on other problems, like building a new future with their local community, where ‘peace and abundance are the defining features’. Or, in other words, when there is Universal Basic Nutrition.
The system UBN came up with, is one where nutrition is produced by the use of insects using autonomous and ownerless farms, the latter meaning no human owns the farm. The farms just are.
How does the system work? The team identified all stages of the insect life cycle, from insect larvae to insect manure, which can be used as fertilizer. Food waste from other sources acts as food for the insects, so everything is part of a local circular ecosystem.
So, they came up with the following stages: containers with insect eggs which turn into larvae you can use for human consumption. Not all larvae of course, otherwise you can’t grow new colonies of insects. The estimates are two percent of the larvae need to survive to keep a sustainable amount of insects in the loop.
It’s important the eggs and the larvae are not in the same space, as they might eat or harm the eggs in other ways. The larvae which evolve into the insects themselves, are for breeding and later the byproduct, as the beetles are not edible.
1800 times less emissions
Monitoring of the system happens by using a basic dashboard, even though the system should be self-sustainable in the first place.
In some cases humans have to feed the insects garden waste and other, for insects edible, waste products.
The insect farms are not only a good basis for nutritious protein, they produce more than 1800 times less emissions per kilogram than beef produce. It might even be much less in terms of emissions, as transportation is still part of the equation.
Now, imagine a future where we have self sustaining, autonomous, symbiotic systems producing synthetic nutrition using larvae as basic building block. Imagine well protected commons and protected natural ecosystems, we as humans will also thrive as we need less time looking for food and have more time helping for good.