UWA Three Minute Thesis: Katarina Doughty

UWA Three Minute Thesis: Katarina Doughty


How many times have you brought groceries home and ended up throwing them out before you even had a chance to eat them? You are unknowingly contributing to one of
the least addressed global polluters – global food waste. 1/3 of all food that we produce for human consumption is wasted. So for every three McDonalds burgers made, one goes directly into the trash. If you look at how much land we devote to growing food we throw out every year, it is equivalent to
one and a half Australias And if it was a country, it’d be the third-largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.
And yet we are not addressing this issue with the severity that it needs to be addressed.
In my thesis I will look at taking global food waste and turning it into global food product through insect
farming of the black soldier fly. These amazing insects will eat any organic
material, and they eat a lot. Our current experimental set-up, which is only the size of a walk
in refrigerator, can eat up to 500kg of food waste every day.
Imagine scaling that up to an industrial scale! Once harvested, these bugs are 40% protein and
30% fat, making them an extremely high value food product.
But what do we do with these insect protein balls once we’ve harvested them?
I plan to incorporate them into the fish farming industry. Now this is because aquaculture is currently the world’s fastest-growing food production sector and accounts for 50% of
all seafood consumed by humans. If you compare it to pig or cattle farming,
it can have a lower environmental impact if done responsibly and sustainably.
But the largest sustainability issue we still face today is that we still rely on massive amounts of wild-caught fish to produce the fish-meal we use to make their diets. Interestingly, we found that when these insects are fed certain
waste products, they actually have a nutritional profile very similar to that of fishmeal.
In my thesis, I’ll be looking at physiology and diet manipulation of these insects, to try to produce a product that better mimics fishmeal, so that I can replace 100% of the fishmeal the diets in diets for rainbow trout.
This will create a closed waste cycle, where humans create food waste that feeds our insects, these insects will feed farmed fish fish could feed us, and we’ll create more waste again. With the human population projected to hit
10 billion people in the next 70 years, we need to better manage how we sustainably produce food
and limit food waste if we want to live on a planet which can carry us into the future. Thank you.

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