Crickets Instead of Meat...What's In These Dog Treats
Photo: Entobento

We’ve all heard the rumors that insects are full of protein. If you accidentally swallow a bug while out for a hike with your friends, someone will undoubtedly tell you, “No worries. It’s just a little extra protein.” Survivalists of television always point out the nutritional content of bugs. I know I speak for many people when I say that the only time you’d ever catch me eating a bug is if I was lost in the woods and starving.

But it’s true. Insects are high in protein and they offer a lot of other nutritional benefits as well. Not to mention, they are much more eco-friendly than traditional sources of protein like chicken, pork and beef. In some cultures around the world it isn’t uncommon to snack on insects, but in America people still aren’t quite as willing to swap their steak for cricket powder.

Crickets Instead of Meat...What's In These Dog Treats

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One new startup has decided to get their start with a market that is a little less squeamish: canines. Entobento is a San Diego based company that makes dog treats with healthy, human-grade ingredients like honey, eggs and peanut butter. The key to their recipes isn’t what you’d think – it is crickets.

Kaison Tanabe, one of the founders of Entobento, says that the company’s goal is to push entomophagy (the eating of insects) forward. They’ve decided to focus on dogs first to help move the trend along. Tanabe and the other five co-founders of the company met at a Startup Weekend competition last year. They were inspired by a U.N. report from 2013 that described a laundry list of benefits of shifting agriculture to insects.

Think of the life cycle of beef cattle. It takes about 2,000 times more water to raise a pound of beef than a pound of crickets. You also need to factor in the amount of land and energy it would take to raise beef cattle compared to raising crickets. Producing a pound of beef also emits a large amount of methane gas into the environment – about 100 times more than producing a pound of crickets.

Tanabe and his co-founders believe that as the global population grows, replacing some of the more traditional protein sources with insects could be a great way to provide a larger amount of sustainable nutrition to countries around the world. Ideally, Entobento would like to work with pet food regulators to begin using cricket flour in dog food, but until they can manage that, they are focused on dog treats.

The team has spent the last year creating a recipe for their treats, and now they’ve begun a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. With five days to go, their campaign has already exceeded its $15,000 goal by more than $600. Entobento dog treats can be pre-ordered online. They are human-grade and made in the USA.

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Crickets Instead of Meat...What's In These Dog Treats
Photo: All Things Bugs LLC

The dog treats are grain free and high in nutritional value. They consist of a whopping 23% protein, and cricket powder offers 28 times more omega 3’s than beef. These treats do not use any artificial preservatives. Their ingredients include: peanut butter, sweet potato, egg, potato flour, cricket powder, honey and coconut oil.

Sustainability is an important thing to consider in the pet industry. In fact, I wrote a column about it just a couple of months ago. Pet food is made with many of the same ingredients that human food is made with.

With the pet population growing at an unbelievable rate and the human population continuously growing as well, eventually there won’t be enough food sources for everyone. It’s important for manufacturers to find sustainable ingredients, and it seems like cricket powder may be something that we’ll be hearing a lot about in the near future.