Are Insect Farms The Urban Farms We Need To Feed Cities?

Insects like crickets and grasshoppers are high protein, low in harmful fat, and full of beneficial minerals. They feed on human and animal food waste, produce little in the way of greenhouse gases (unlike cows that belch and fart), and they need almost no land or water.

Given these benefits, it’s little wonder that insects have been held up as a protein solution. After all, 2 billion people already eat them regularly. It’s only people in the developed world who gag at the sight of six legs.

Still, it takes a certain imagination to imagine a whole city running on insects. But that’s what Belatchew Labs, a studio in Stockholm, does with abandon. The renderings here are for a concept called InsectCity–which is a city completely self-sufficient on insect protein.

Designer Rahel Belatchew Lerdell proposes building nine insect farms on traffic circles throughout the city. Each BuzzBuilding, as she calls them, would cultivate insects from eggs to end-of-life and continually reproduce. The insects would feed on waste from Stockholm homes.

“The main structure is a steel exoskeleton, an outer skeleton, inspired by the structure of insects. On the ground floor, there is a restaurant where insects are prepared and sold,” says Belatchew Lerdell. “The goal is to make the production public. In contrast to the hidden meat production, it invites the public to observe and participate, and offers accessible knowledge about where our food comes from.”

It’s a great idea and might be workable. But it may be a struggle to persuade Stockholmers to give up elk and reindeer for dinner. The biggest barrier to insect-eating isn’t really production, even at scale. It’s how to get beyond the yuck-factor. Europeans eat plenty of weird food. But crickets aren’t currently one of them.