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The Re_ insect harvesting pod is the sustainable protein revolution » Gadget Flow


If you shake your head at factory farming and just can’t fathom how our food production system is estimated to increase by 70% by 2050, you don’t have to sit and take it. And, actually, the solution might be easier than you ever thought. Insects could be the sustainable protein we’re looking for. That’s right, although they’re kinda crawly, bugs are chock-full of nutrients and have sustained primates for millennia. Will insect-fortified cuisine be the next food trend? The inventors of Re_ are betting on it.

You know we produce a lot of waste and greenhouse gases just by the way we raise our livestock. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, knowing that the food that sustains us, or at least, the amount of it, is so harmful to the planet. But, according to the makers of the Re_ insect harvesting pod, the story doesn’t have to end there. You can raise sustainable protein at home, and it’s easier than you’d think. There are no Petri dishes involved here—no funny mixes. Just pure protein the way prehistoric humans enjoyed it. And this protein is already all around us: it’s bugs!

They say crispy foods are innately appealing to humans because, across all cultures, people like food with a crunch. And the reason we like it may stem from the fact that surviving on the exoskeletons of insects was a way of life for our primate ancestors. But whatever the reason we enjoy a bowl of potato chips while we binge on Netflix, the truth remains that bugs are a great natural source of protein that causes no environmental harm. It’s these attributes that the makers of Re_ insect harvesting pods hope will woo customers and revolutionize eating habits.

The Re_ insect harvesting pods come in a series of stackable cases that look a little like bento boxes. Only instead of a Japanese lunch, these boxes grow mealworms—not exactly the crispy insects I mentioned above, but protein nonetheless. The Re_ boxes feature durable recycled bioplastics, and their design is a simple, elegant hexagonal shape that pays homage to honeycombs. You can set your Re_ pod anywhere in your house since it’s compact and wireless. It also makes a great educational tool for kids.

Our planet is suffering

It’s plain to see that our current method for procuring protein, by raising millions of tons of livestock for consumption, isn’t sustainable. According to the Re_ Kickstarter page, a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock and 80% of the world’s deforestation is due to agriculture. Also, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have emerged due to the overuse of antibiotics in farming.

Re_ insect harvesting pods

Re_ insect harvesting pods with mealworms

By 2050, we’ll need a 70% increase in food production to meet rising global demand. One solution is to get protein from another source. And a great one with no environmental impact are mealworms or the larvae that hatch from beetle eggs.

Typical harvests produce 100–300 grams of mealworms

In an average mealworm harvest, you’ll produce between 100 and 300 grams of mealworms. And since mealworms are over 54% protein, they’re a satisfying addition to a healthy diet. They also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. With Re_ insect harvester, the logical question isn’t why don’t we eat insects, it’s why did we ever stop?

Re_ insect harvesting pods

Re_ insect harvesting pods on a table

Your mealworm farm will work all the time

Ready to set up your own insect-growing experiment box in your home? To harvest successfully, it’s helpful to understand the lifecycle of a mealworm. Mealworms go through four stages: egg, larva (mealworms), pupae, then adult beetles.

You’ll place your first batch of mealworms in the first tray and feed them fruit and vegetable waste every two to three days—it’s a great way to put your food scraps to use. A few weeks later, the mealworms will turn into pupae. You’ll then move the pupae onto the raised platform, where they will turn into beetles and fall into the tray underneath. There, they’ll lay eggs and start the cycle again. Eventually, all of the trays will be full of eggs that turn into mealworms.

Re_ insect harvesting pods

Re_ insect harvesting pods design

This protein additive works in all sorts of recipes

The company says you should place the mealworms in your freezer for 30 minutes to prepare them for cooking. Then you can fry them or bake them in the oven on high heat. You can also grind them up or eat them whole. Finally, they make an excellent protein additive to baked goods, smoothies, and protein shakes.

Re_ insect harvesting pods

Re_ insect harvesting pods in white

They offer a flavor that’s familiar

So what do mealworms actually taste like? That’s the question on everyone’s mind when they think of eating insects for the first time. Comments on the company’s Kickstarter page say that the mealworms have a light, nutty flavor similar to almonds or dry-roasted nuts. These are flavors that most of us already enjoy. And since the insects are packed with protein and vitamins, they could be a healthy, tasty addition to your diet.

For my part, I never thought I could be convinced to try mealworms. I’m not that adventurous. However, Re_ has made a pretty good case for integrating the little buggers into your daily routine. And if you can blitz them into a tasty protein shake, brownie, or smoothie, why not? At the end of the day, it’s just protein. And highly sustainable protein at that.

Re_ costs $107, and you can preorder yours on Kickstarter.

Lauren has been writing and editing since 2008. She loves working with text and helping writers find their voice. When she’s not typing away at her computer, she cooks and travels with her husband and two daughters.

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