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How Bug Ranching Can Fix the Food System

How a nonprofit focused on protecting salmon and a Washington bug farm are trying something new.

September 28, 2018

Every year millions of tons of fish are scooped out of the ocean, ground up and fed to the fish that we eat. It’s a massive waste of dwindling natural resources. But a nonprofit focused on protecting salmon and a Washington bug farm are trying something new. Through her company Beta Hatch, bug rancher Virginia Emery raises mealworms as an alternative feed to fish meal — a zero-waste option that even reduces waste from other agricultural industries. The bugs survive on a diet of agricultural byproducts like peanut shells, bakery waste and spent brewers grains. The mealworm poop (called frass) is turned into organic fertilizer. Best of all, mealworms mimic fish’s natural prey, which could lead to healthier fish for us to eat. Join Katie Herzog as she wrangles wiggling worms and dons a snorkel to check out the future of underwater ranching. Yee-haw!

Top image: Katie Herzog holds a scoop of mealworms on Thursday, Sept. 6 at Long Live the Kings in Lilliwaup, WA. Fish in a trial at Long Live the Kings nonprofit are fed mealworms instead of traditional fish meal. (Photos by Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)



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Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman is a science and environment producer for Crosscut and KCTS 9.

More stories by Sarah Hoffman