Edible Innovations: Farming Edible Insects at Home with Don Bugito

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Edible Innovations: Farming Edible Insects at Home with Don Bugito

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

Monica Martinez was born and raised in Mexico City. She studied Industrial Design and received a MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. She has always been a maker.

In 2009, she designed a large scale edible insect farm as a utopian proposal for urban farming. The following year, this led to the founding of “Don Bugito,” an edible insect entrepreneurial food project. “I saw a problem in industrial food production (cattle, poultry and hogs). It was generating an incredible amount of waste, green gasses, and a tremendous negative foot print in the planet,” she says. “I want to offer a more sustainable and ecological form of protein. At the same time, I want to rescue ancient food practices from pre-Columbian times and bring them to the rest of the American continent.”

Edible insects are not only rich on protein and Omega 3, but they do not contain cholesterol. They also taste good and, because they are genetically further removed from humans than most mammals and birds, have less risk of cross contamination seen in other types of protein (such as mad cow disease or bird flu). 80% of insects are protein. When eating a cow, only people usually only get pieces that are 40% protein. The rest either enters the body and is used for something else or it is simply disposed of. Insects are smaller and can be farmed for a fraction of the space. They also do not need water so waste production is minimum. What waste is there can be used for composting.

Now, with Don Bugito, Monica is incubated by the non-profit Food Incubator, La Cocina. She is interested in promoting edible insects as a sustainable and alternative protein rich foods. In bringing this product to market we tell the history of this ancient and healthy food source, its significance in many of the world’s cultures, and educate people on the surprisingly delicious qualities of this locally grown delicacy. Don Bugito has worked in the past with designers, artists and chefs to create dishes that convey information about the ingredients they contain, and understands that the aesthetic experience of food is just as important as its taste.

And what about next steps? Don Bugito’s next step is to create partnerships with organizations and institutions that are cultivating sustainable foods for the future, and to capitalize on the brand recognition and market leadership that has been forged in this emerging cross-over market.

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Chiara is fascinated by food as a means to impact bodies, minds, and environment. She has studied international business in three different countries, and is an alumni of the Food Innovation Program and US Director at the Future Food Institute.

Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, working on building the first comprehensive Internet of Food to enable food care through food systems semantics. She is a selected member of Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future, Board Member at Maker Faire and selected member of the Global Shapers, a young global network of innovators promoted by the World Economic Forum.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and aims to leave her mark on society.

View more articles by Chiara Cecchini
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