Brad Marchant is a farmer of sorts. What he farms is neither cute nor fuzzy nor delicious, at least by most people’s standards.
“We keep about six million flies at any one time here in our hatchery,” said Marchant of the Enterra Feed Corporation.
The flies aren’t the actual product; their larvae are. They produce 110 million of them every day.
At Enterra, neonates are given feed stock consisting of pre-consumer fruits and vegetables that would otherwise head to the landfill.
The larvae devour 100 tonnes of it a day, which results in two products.
“The larvae as they’re eating the waste food, they produce their own manure product and that’s Mother Nature’s natural source of fertilizer,” Marchant said.
The other product is themselves. Larvae are a source of protein and fat, perfect for a use dreamed up during a fishing trip several years ago with famed environmentalist David Suzuki.
“He was talking about the unsustainability of fish farming, from the point of view that a lot of those little pellets that are fed to fish on aquaculture farms are made up of unsustainable, small, oily fish,” Marchant said.
“I worked as a geneticist for 30 years with an insect, so to me it was kind of, duh, if you don’t want to feed fish to fish why not feed them insects?” said Suzuki.
That was six years ago. Today, Enterra is preparing to expand from its sole facility in Langley to Toronto, California and Switzerland. While sales are growing in the U.S., the company is not allowed to sell its products in Canada.
“We have been under application as a novel feed ingredient for about three-and-a-half years now with CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency),” Marchant said. “They’re working on it.”
In the meantime, fish farms in Canada must continue to use unsustainable feed, putting additional stress on our marine ecosystem even though the solution is in our own backyard.
“As the world depends more and more on aquaculture for our protein sources, where is the food going to come from? We have to feed the fish with something and insects are the perfect answer.”
-With files from Linda Aylesworth