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Make your own protein snacks at home with this tabletop insect farm

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Farm 432 fly larva harvesting device
Farm 432 fly larva harvesting device

Industrial designer Katharina Unger has created a sustainable system that will allow people to add protein to their diet by breeding and harvesting fly larvae at home. The sleek project is called Farm 432, and calls to mind iconic designs like the original iMac — if Jony Ive created insect-harvesting stations, that is. It consists of a large chamber; fly larvae are placed inside a small holding pen at the top. After they transform into flies, they exit the holding pen for the larger chamber where they mate and produce new larvae. Those fall down into a hidden chamber dubbed "kindergarten," where they grow and eventually climb up through a tube — Unger calls the process "self-harvesting" — and then fall into a removable cup.

There the larvae can be taken out, cooked, and eaten — with a few choice candidates placed back into the holding pen at the top to start the process again. Over an 18-day period, the designer says, one gram of black soldier fly eggs will result in 2.4 kilograms of larvae protein. "Black soldier fly adults don't eat, the larvae can be fed on bio waste, therefore the production almost costs no water or CO2," she writes. "Black soldier fly larvae are one of the most efficient protein converters in insects, containing up to 42 percent of protein, a lot of calcium, and amino acids."

"When you cook them, they smell a bit like cooked potatoes."

Of course, Farm 432 isn't a shipping product at this time, and the solution is most definitely not for the sqeamish — though Unger insists it's not an unpleasant culinary experience. "The larvae I bred have a very distinctive taste," she told Dezeen. "When you cook them, they smell a bit like cooked potatoes."