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Purina wants you to feed your dog bugs – here’s why

Published Nov 6th, 2020 12:31AM EST
eating bugs
Image: zinkevych/Adobe

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  • Purina is making a move to test out a sustainable source of insect-based protein for some of its dog and cat food.
  • The company’s Beyond Naturals foods will soon include a product that sources protein from fly larvae.
  • Scientists have long suggested that insect proteins may save us from food shortages in the future.

The world’s population is booming. That’s been the case since, well, pretty much forever — aside from some particularly deadly ancient pandemics that would make the coronavirus look like nothing by comparison — and it needs food. Food shortages have existed in many nations for decades, and they’re beginning to pop up in more and more countries as global warming puts a strain on crops that are increasingly in demand.

So, where are we going to get all our food from in the coming decades and centuries (assuming we make it that long)? Bugs! That’s right. You better have one heck of an appetite because scientists have long seen bugs as the answer to all of the world’s food woes. Bugs can be sustainably harvested rapidly and provide an excellent source of protein, which is why Nestle’s Purina pet food brand is readying a new lineup of pet food offerings that lean on bugs for protein.

The pet food will be sold under a new label in the Purina Beyond Nature line. Purina Beyond Nature Protein will be sold in two varieties, one of which includes insect protein. One of the variations is based on ingredients including chicken and pig liver while the other will source its protein from black soldier fly larvae. The food is sold in both cat and dog varieties.

Using insects as a food source isn’t new, but we tend to turn our noses up at it because ew, bugs, right? However, people have been eating bugs since the dawn of humanity — really, whatever keeps you from starving and doesn’t make you sick works as a food source — and insects are actually incredibly nutrient-dense for their size.

In recent years, companies have been toying with ways of introducing bug-based foods to consumers while not grossing them out in the process. Meanwhile, scientists have been increasingly adamant that eating bugs may ultimately be the only way we’ll be able to sustain an out-of-control worldwide population boom. Things will begin slowly, with bugs being used as feed for livestock, but it might not be long before we’ll be eating them ourselves.

“Human populations are continuing to increase, and the stress on protein production is increasing at an unsustainable rate, not even considering climate change,” Christine Picard, author of a paper that focused on mealworms as a food source, said in a statement. “Mealworms, being insects, are a part of the natural diet of many organisms. Fish enjoy mealworms, for example. They could also be really useful in the pet food industry as an alternative protein source, chickens like insects — and maybe one day humans, too, because it’s an alternative source of protein.”

The new Purina pet foods will be made available in Switzerland first before rolling out to other countries, depending on how things go.

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