Image for A swarm of solutions: insect food experiment lands top photography prize

A swarm of solutions: insect food experiment lands top photography prize

This prize-winning shot captures the powerful potential of a balletic swarm of tiny insects

This prize-winning shot captures the powerful potential of a balletic swarm of tiny insects

It may appear at first a nightmarish scene, but this photo of an insect food experiment at the University of Turin could actually represent a much-needed solution to food scarcity.

It won Italian photographer Maurizio di Pietro the top prize in the most recent Environmental Photographer of the Year competition, in which snappers ranging in age from 17 to 70 put forward shots to inspire climate action.

Led by Prof Laura Gasco, the research project that captured the attention of di Pietro’s lens looks at incorporating insect flour into the diets of rainbow trout and chickens to determine its potential as a nutrition source. The Hermetia illucens, or soldier fly, is rich in proteins and a highly sustainable food source, thanks to its minimal water and soil consumption needs. By feeding on food waste, these insects also contribute to a circular economy.

The image forms part of di Pietro’s Zero Hunger series, which documents worldwide food insecurity and how insects could be part of the solution. “My home country of Italy is experiencing a frightening reality: 22% now face food insecurity, and this number is only set to increase as climate change intensifies,” he said. “Through my photographs, however, I don’t just want to document the problem, but also offer a way forward.

“Only then can we inspire people to abandon a doom-drenched view of the world and fight for a better one,” he said.

Main image: Maurizio di Pietro

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