And you thought cicada recipes were edgy: One grocery category has taken a rather peculiar turn, as some food manufacturers are incorporating insects—and flour made of insects—into their formulas for consumers. Could these creepy crawlers ever make it into your family's bowls? Here's the buzz… literally.
As many families are turning to more plant-based grocery lists, one consumer category is taking a turn for the exotic: An increasing number of pet food brands are making insect-based food for cats. Some of these brands argue that insects like mealworm and the black soldier fly are a good source of nutrients pets need, like protein and healthy oils, and that insects are a sustainable ingredient: Easy to breed, without much residual waste.
If this makes your skin crawl a little, some of these brands are offering a slightly less anthropod-forward version of insect plant food—that is, pet food made of insect flour. That's not much more appealing, perhaps, but one sample of U.S. shoppers said they'd be more comfortable feeding this to their pets than serving them dried whole insects.
One of the manufacturers, the U.K.'s Mars Pet Care which makes Lovebug, the world's first insect-based cat food, has insisted that they raise, treat, and process the insects humanely. No matter where you stand on plant-based living for the wellbeing of animals and the health of the planet, Pet Food Industry reports that in comparing the same serving size of crickets to beef, crickets have 10% fewer calories than beef, nearly the exact same protein content, and less fat than beef by almost half.
But before you scoop up that bowl of worms, there is one concern that some biologists say we should be cautious of, if the insect pet food trend catches on: If these insects are non-natives to the area in which they're raised and made into pet food, they can become invasive and even lead to an infestation.
The less queasy news? Right now, the U.S. government is making it tough for brands to import insect-based pet foods into the U.S… but, these critters are moving closer. As Pet Food Industry reports, in April, Darling Ingredients—a food-sustainability company that works to repurpose food waste for use—announced plans to develop a research and development office in North Carolina slated to open early next year. Yes, it's happening: The company has already established its first manufacturing plant in Kentucky.
Sounds crunchy. (Hey, if you're like some of us, maybe your pet's eaten way worse..?)
If you're catching up on food trends, don't miss One Major Side Effect Your Weight Gain Has on Your Dog's Health, New Data Says, and: