Whether it’s traditional turkey or meatless roasted nuts, there’s a lot going on in making a great Christmas meal.
But while competition from supermarkets or local butchers is always fierce in the run-up to the festival, this year it quieted down against the backdrop of: Warning of impending food supply crisis in UK.
Farmers say the egg shortage may be just the beginning – so while your long-awaited Christmas meal may survive the rest of the day, Easter lunch may not be so lucky.
Thankfully, there’s a potential solution all around us — some crawling beneath our feet, others buzzing above us.
Before you say “Yah, liar,” I’m not suggesting that you replace your well-prepared roast with insects.
Cambridge-based Better Origin wants to make food waste part of the supply chain. Given that the United Nations estimates that 17 percent of the food produced globally is thrown away, there’s a lot of food available.
That’s where the insects come in: Feeding them with waste can turn them into a nutrient-dense alternative to the carbon-intensive soy and grains typically used to feed livestock.
“Look at it through the lens of insect protein,” said Fotis Fotiadis, CEO of Better Origin.
“It’s tasty and nutritious because their amino acid profile is very similar to meat. This can replace any form of animal protein in other parts of the food supply chain.”
How does this new supply chain work?
The ethos of the supply chain is to use technology to mimic nature and turn waste into food.
While you probably wouldn’t dream of eating a rotten apple, in nature, it might re-enter the food chain—either eaten as is or broken down and regenerated by bacteria.
“The system is not sustainable or safe – as the pandemic and Russian invasion’, said Mr Fotiadis.
“we want […] Convert from linear to circular. If waste becomes part of the input, you become more independent. “
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Better Origin has developed what it describes as an “automated factory in a container,” with waste and insects stored at one end for them to eat. Once established, they can be fed to animals.
There is already a real-world example of this, with Morrisons launching a line of “carbon-neutral eggs” to feed hens on his farm with dung-fed blackwater fly larvae.
“It’s a win-win for everyone in the supply chain,” said Mr Fotiadis, with artificial intelligence-driven algorithms used to fully automate the in-vessel feeding process.
Morrisons has secured 10 ‘insect mini-farms’ which are estimated to reduce food waste by 3,000 tonnes and CO2 emissions by 2,810 tonnes per year.
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How will it go beyond the egg?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your insect-powered Christmas dinner (unless you only eat bugs and not roasts, I guess).
Better Origin is working with regulators to expand the number of food types they can feed insects on top of their existing fruit, vegetable and bakery waste.
Its ambition is to replicate the “insect protein” feeding strategy for other animals, and the company’s plans are backed by the University of Cambridge.
So while you probably never want “all the frills” to include Crickets, flies and mealwormsand it may not be long before they play an important role in bringing your usual favorites to the table.