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Insects are on the menu and they’re better for the planet (Nov21)

Our puppy

Let’s start with pet food.  If you want to feed your dog insects – and you should – there’s lots of choice – see list at the bottom of this page. I started over 2 years ago giving my dog Yora insect feed.  Recently, I’ve managed to add my cat and puppy to this delicious grub diet. 

Why is this such a great thing?  It’s better for the planet – many of the companies demonstrate how it significantly reduces the carbon ‘pawprint’.  But some readers may be surprised to learn that it’s apparently an incredibly healthy option too – good for digestion, blood circulation and the immune system of your pet, thereby preventing diseases.  If your pet is hypoallergenic this could be the right choice for you.

The key eco-benefit is that insects are a high protein meat alternative but growing them uses a lot less water, land and Co2.  Yora have compared the CO2 saved in a dog’s lifetime compared to meat-based pet food.  Feeding a medium-sized dog chicken and soya food the switch to insects would save between 5-10 tonnes of CO2 in their lifetime.  But if you compared the insect feed to beef-based dog food, you would save a whopping 71.4 tonnes of CO2.  Gosh.

Cricket flour has more than double the protein by weight compared to chicken breast or sirloin steak. Furthermore, the crickets need 1000 times less food and water than cows for the same amount of protein. 

Bugs are on the menu for humans too.  Fancy some Cricket Crackers, Crunchy Roasted Crickets, Bean Chilli Mealworm Burrito or Worm beans.  They’re all available and many other tasty dishes.  I gave some to my sons for Christmas and they must have liked them as they’re on the waiting list for more. Of course, insects are commonly eaten around the world, but in the UK insect menus are less common.  I haven’t yet been to a restaurant offering insect menus, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for an opportunity to do so.  Fudge topped with wood ants offered by Eat Native in London sounds appealing! Or perhaps some home-prepared potted woodlice, which Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall described as ‘land shrimp’ in one of his early TV shows.

My real bug-bear however is that I want to give my chickens an insect diet.  Our newly built hen house is waiting for a colourful array of hens in a few weeks time.  I’ve started trying to find the best chicken feed for when they arrive.  

My first excitement was discovering exactly what I wanted – dried black soldier fly grub promoted as a healthy snack that chickens love.  The benefits extolled included stronger eggshells, healthier feathers and food that chickens love. Not forgetting the eco advantages with the bugs being fed food waste that would otherwise end up in landfills. But then the disappointment. Grubbly Farms which offers a variety of chicken feed is a US-based company and there’s nothing equivalent in the UK. What a pity.

I did come across Entocycle, the UK’s first automated insect protein farm.  They say that black soldier fly ants taste like peanuts and are beginning to grow them at scale. But, from what I could tell they will be destined for commercial chicken farmers – and they’re certainly not available for me to order for my small flock. 

At the moment, I’m stuck on the chicken feed. Of course, I’ll be giving them some kitchen leftovers, but let me know if you have any other ideas. I’d like to give them the best sustainable diet possible.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to finish to left-over non-insect dog food that my husband kept buying – and he’s promised to buy any more! 

LIST OF INSECT OFFERING COMPANIES

For Pets

Bug Bakes: Eco food for Happy dogs

Insect Dog: Designed for hypoallergenic dogs.

Percuro: Dogs and puppy food promoted as healthy for body, mind and planet

Petto: Uses cricket powders for dog feed but not yet for cats or puppies.

Yora: For dogs, puppies and now cats too. Uses larvae from black soldier flies.

BBC Article: Insect food is better for pets than top steak

For Humans

Bug Recipes: Cook delicious insect meals at home.

Bugsolutely: Offering Cricket Pasta.

Earth + Me: Offer Crunchy Cricket bites, Eat Grub, Small Giants and other insect snacks.

Eat Grub: Cricket Crackers, Crunchy Roasted Crickets, Worms beans and peas etc.

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