Superfood or super ew? Hong Kong-based startup wants mealworms to become the next health food fad

Put down the quinoa and step away from the dinosaur kale – this Hong Kong startup wants the next health food craze to be mealworms.

Katharina Unger, founder of “fashionable mealworm harvesting startup” Livin Farms, wants to change the perception of mealworms as food fit only for your pets (fun fact: hedgehogs love them) through The Hive, a tabletop mealworm farm where the strong-stomached can watch their own food mature, become attached, then slaughter it… but on a microcosmic scale.

Unger and fellow creepy crawly enthusiast Julia Kaisinger, who co-designed The Hive, espouse the nutritional benefits of eating mealworms, claiming that they contain the same amount of protein as beef, more vitamin B12 than eggs, and more fibre than broccoli.

In their bid to open the can of worms (so to speak) on insect consumption, Livin Farms have designed a sleek and compartmental tower to house the oh-so-healthy worms, as well as a cookbook wriggling with impeccably styled photos of mealworm dishes. 

Mealworms feasting on some carrots in The Hive. Photo: Livin Farms

The mealworms themselves can be fed on food scraps like fruit and veg while they mature, and once killed (humanely, in the freezer), they reportedly take on a mild, “nutty” taste.

Inspired by the long history of insects in Chinese medicine and cuisine, Unger believes The Hive will appeal to Chinese consumers. Speaking to Jing Daily, Unger says she was heartened by The Hive’s reception in Hong Kong, saying that people were unfazed as they had previously consumed insects, or were comforted by the worms’ resemblance to seafood (and we know how HKers feel about seafood).

The Hive, which just surpassed its funding goal with USD145,000 last week, costs USD649 and comes with a starter kit of mealworms (depending on where you live), a manual, and a recipe book, but won’t be shipped until November. That gives us ages to get familiar with some of Livin Farms’ recipes – namely, Greek salads with toasted mealworms, quinoa-and-worm meatballs and chocolate worm cake.

Mm. We’d like to humbly request a recipe for Ross Geller’s banana cake with mealworms please. If we’re going to get down with some larvae, we want to do it right.


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