Jimminy Cricket! Would You Eat Bugs?
Admittedly, a stupid question. Most cats eat bugs all the time. I think flies make up half of Reno’s caloric intake.
But when it comes to buying pet food, few people would purchase food with bugs in it. And that’s going to change.
This week I was the guest of Purina at their annual Better with Pets symposium. They bring together their top scientists, vets and behaviorists and share with us the latest and greatest in the world of pet care.
In their last panel of the day, The Science of Innovative Nutrition for Pets, we explored how nutrition has the power to help treat nutrition responsive conditions to enable better lives and secure a better future for our pets. Purina has 500 scientists on staff working to develop nutritional solutions for age- and illness- related issues in our pets.
Looking to the future, Purina scientists are investigating alternative protein sources, including insects. They explained that it’s hard enough now to convince consumers that offal and byproducts are acceptable ingredients, even though scientific research proves that they are often superior to the choice cuts first world citizens are accustomed to eating. Adding insects to the mix will require a fundamental cultural change in perception.
5 reasons your pet should eat bugs
- Bugs trump livestock in nutritional value according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Crickets, palm weevils (beetles), honeybees and larvae score much higher than chicken and beef when measured for vitamins and minerals. Caterpillars contain 280g of protein per 1 kg. That’s 20g more than salmon, 30g more than pork, and 263g more than tofu.
- Reducing the number of lifestock raised can make a significant impact on reducing global warming. Industrial food and farming systems are the major cause of man-made global warming. In 2004, data from a special methane-sniffing satellite helped Harvard University researchers determine that livestock emitted more methane than oil and gas. Switching to alternative protein sources is not just humane; it will save the planet.
- Crickets and weaver ants have a high feed conversion efficiency compared with traditional livestock. Specifically, crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and half as much as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. That translates into significantly lower production costs, and less food that has to be produced to feed them.
- Currently, 2 billion people eat insects around the world, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where the practice has a thousand-year precedent, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Worldwide, beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants are the most widely consumed species. Resistance to including insects as a food source is culturally based, vs. science based. Your cat has no such bias.
- Humans, on average, already unintentionally ingest an estimated 1 pound of insects a year, mixed in with other foods. You’re already doing it, why not your cat? Wait! Your cat is already eating insects. What cat doesn’t spend part of her day hunting flies?
There was a time when lobsters were considered disgusting, a food only paupers would eat. We can change our perceptions of alternative protein sources, but as with lobsters, it will take a generation or two… or ten… to take that leap. In 100 years we may not have a choice. You might not be ready to pop some deep fried crickets into your mouth, but your cat is ready–even eager–to do so. So why not add crickets to her food?
THE FINE PRINT: Purina Pet Care sponsored my attendance at the Better with Pets Symposium so that I could have a better understanding of what Purina is doing to make our lives Better with Pets and share that understanding with my readers. Mousebreath respects its readers and does not promote any brand that we and our cats don’t adore. #spons