MEAL-WORM as MEAL-NORM
Our current way of producing and consuming food causes a great many of serious problems with drastic ecological consequences. We urgently need to rethink our food production and integrate new ingredients into our daily menus.
Mealworms are a viable alternative to this damaging food system. They are eco-friendly, resource- and place-saving, nutritious and above all extremely delicious. However, humans are very reluctant to change their eating habits. As insects are still unfamiliar in many food-cultures the foreign food must first of all be integrated in peoples’ everyday life in order to overcome their reluctance of the new ingredient.
Against this background, I designed a mobile foodtruck for public space, in which mealworms can be both breeded as well as cooked and distributed to passerby. The localization of the mealworm consumption directly on the city streets goes inevitably along with taking notice of other people in interaction with the unusual food. This observations motivate and facilitate the step to try it out for oneself. The result: A chain reaction with a normalization at its end.
In addition, the foodtruck concept also enhances the relationship between humans and the insects and their appreciation as a valuable food resource since the breeding does not take place hidden behind the doors of giant factory halls, but transparent in immediate proximity. The places where we consume food and the places where we produce it grow closer together again and merge in one object.
After an intensive experimentation phase in order to study the rearing of the insects and their metamorphosis from eggs to larva and pupal stage to full-grown meal beetles, I tried to optimize and simplify this breeding process with different tools and prototypes.
To save space and facilitate an easy breeding, the development stages of the mealworms are separated in different boxes, accordingly adjusted to their respective needs and feeding habits. Once a week the bottoms of this boxes can be opened in order to segregate the different stages and to harvest fresh mealworms. Therefore, the full-grown insects fall down in special containers where the feed substrate is getting filtered away by taking advantage of the natural movement of the animals. The containers can be removed and placed in a freezer in order to euthanize the insects in a humanly way — it feels just like going into hibernation. Below the boxes a particular tray collects the excrements of the insects, which is filtered out all the time in every box through nylon-meshes and can be used as an effective fertilizer.
concept and design: Tobias Trübenbacher
photography: Nikolai Marcinowski, Tobias Trübenbacher