Worm meat, human food?
At present, worm meat, with 70-80 percent of proteins, amino acids, trace elements and vitamins, among other compounds, is only used as food for animals, especially birds and fish.
However, its nutritional characteristics resemble those of insects that many cultures include in their daily diet and are even appreciated as a real delicacy.
A United Nations report has already advocated the consumption of insects to improve nutrition in the world, instead of increasing the area dedicated to agriculture in order to meet the food demand of more than 9,000 million people expected by 2030.
Luis Fernández Brugos raises 350 million earthworms in an area of one and a half hectares located in a livestock farm, where he produces worm humus as an ecological fertilizer "for all types of crops, plants and trees."
But he himself admits that the worm "can be eaten", in fact in some countries what they call worm flour is used as a dietary supplement or ingredient in some recipes, because "it improves muscle mass, relieves fatigue and enriches tissues."
Humus as a natural compost is obtained from the digestion of organic matter by worms; "It is the best fertilizer that exists, it does not contain chemical substances and generates life in the soil, to which it contributes millions of bacteria that make it more fertile and healthy".
For something - remembers Luis - in ancient Rome it was already used in agriculture and the Egyptians considered the earthworm a sacred animal, to which they attributed the fertility of the Nile valley.
But “not all hummus is the same, it depends on what you feed them”, Luis has recognized; "In our case, traceability is guaranteed, because we always use manure from livestock farms".
He assures that some farms feed their worms with sewage sludge or with the leftovers from the crushed pellets, which is discouraging many farmers - who are already reluctant to the unknown - to switch composting.
Energy for the plant
But Luis never tires of explaining that worm humus not only feeds the plant, it also strengthens it and protects it against pests, frost and diseases; "Harvests are increased by at least 50 percent."
Furthermore, “it regulates the pH of the soil, decontaminates it, does not smell and does not host harmful parasites, but millions of beneficial bacteria for the soil, zinc, iron, lead, boron, magnesium, manganese, seven times more nitrogen than manure, six more of potassium and five more of phosphorus ”.
On the other hand, a truck of humus is equivalent to ten trucks of manure for the field and “it is used for everything” -cerezo, tobacco, pepper, ornamental plants- with the particularity that “no matter how much is thrown, the plant".
The 350 million earthworms on his farm in Peraleda de la Mata (Cáceres) are capable of transforming five to six million kilos of manure a year into humus in cycles of three or four months; "They digest their own weight in manure daily and deposit half as humus."
This avoids the deposit of a large amount of polluting substances -such as methane- that emit CO2 and that when it rains they filter into the groundwater, he explained.
Their worms reproduce "exponentially", and as long as they have food they do not escape, they live almost fifteen years, after two and a half they begin to reproduce - preferably with a humidity of 70 or 80 percent and at temperatures that oscillate between 12 and 28 degrees- and they lay an egg every week.
For this expert in vermiculture, it is a technique with "a lot of future" that has yet to overcome "some myths", such as that worms are harmful to living plants. Ecoportal.net