New York Times
When Keiran Whitaker was working as a scuba diving instructor, witnessing the destruction of tropical rain forests, often because of industrial food production, he decided he needed to put his environmental design degree to good use.
In central London, Entocycle’s insect farm is making progress on breeding millions of black soldier flies with a view to changing the way animals – and humans – get their protein.
A third of all food produced globally every year is wasted - meaning wasted resources and higher greenhouse gas emissions. The FT's Daniel Garrahan reports on the tech start-ups fighting the problem, from food sharing apps to smart fishing nets and insect farms.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Keiran Whitaker is building the world's first fully automated insect farm right in the heart of London using food waste as its only input. Graduate from the prestigious Y-Combinator accelerator programme, his startup Entocycle produces insect animal feed as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to soymeal and fishmeal. Is this the future of food?
After Keiran Whitaker completed his masters in environmental design at the University of Manchester, he decided to take some time out and become a scuba-diving instructor. He spent five years travelling the world and witnessed first-hand the damage that intensive farming was wreaking on ocean coral reefs. “I saw underwater deserts when I was scuba diving,” Mr Whitaker says. “Our corals are dying at a horrendous rate.”
Keiran Olivares Whitaker is the founder and CEO of Entocycle, UK's first automated insect protein farm. Whitaker is firmly committed to producing the most efficient, sustainable protein on the planet, at scale. For the more curious ones – black soldier fly larvae taste like peanuts.
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The world doesn't have enough food. “We will have to normalise eating insect protein in the next two to three years – we cannot keep destroying the developing world to feed our luxury diet,” says Keiran Olivares Whitaker, founder of Entocycle.
From the former scuba instructor using insects to turn organic waste into livestock feed, to the founder of a social enterprise that trains homeless people as baristas, when it comes to good business, sometimes it’s doing good that counts
No matter how many tears are shed watching “Okja,” people are still going to eat meat—and the raising of meat is hard on the planet. Even feeding livestock and fish has an ecological cost. Soybean farming can lead to soil erosion and farmed fish still contribute to overfishing if their food is caught from the ocean. Entocycle, which is currently participating in Y Combinator, wants to solve the food chain conundrum with another source of protein: black soldier flies.
MassChallenge styles itself as the world’s most start-up friendly accelerator, running three-to-four month programmes in five different countries and claiming a series of successes. The accelerator points to a study from MIT which found participation in MassChallenge doubles the chances of a start-up business raising significant funding and growing to the stage where it has at least 15 employees.
There's big money to be made if you're game enough to look in the places no-one else is looking. Especially if that place is trash cans, wastelands or other areas most entrepreneurs choose to avoid. But there is a gold mine waiting to be found in the gutter. And not only is it better for the planet and infinitely sustainable, it's also scalable. Not to mention, consumers care about strong environmental practices with more intensity than ever before. Here are some of the businesses, big and small, that are finding clever ways to cash in on our waste.
Last night I attended the MassChallenge fundraiser and awards night, where some of the 100 MassChallenge finalists' achievements were celebrated and rewarded. Yet again I was reminded how amazing some of these young entrepreneurs are, such as startups Entocycle, which is converting food waste into protein for animal feed with insects, and Big Couch, which is enabling independent film makers to crew and fund films.
Maggots raised on animal manure could provide a sustainable alternative to much of the feed given to farmed pigs, chickens and fish. That’s the preliminary conclusion of PROteINSECT, a three-year study of whether feed based on fly larvae could help mitigate environmental problems caused by the rapidly growing global demand for meat and fish.