INSECT PROTEIN – NUTRITION COUPLED WITH SUSTAINABILITY
Insect protein is gaining popularity for its potential to feed people, pets and animals raised in traditional agriculture settings. It’s exciting for many reasons.
- Great Nutrition – Insects are superfoods delivering a complete protein coupled with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- A Sustainable Food Source – Less land, less water and fewer greenhouse gases are just part of the story.
- Humane – A natural protein source that
The insect species that are currently used in pet food include crickets and black soldier fly larva (aka BSFL or Grubs). Mealworm farms are also being developed and we anticipate seeing pet products made with mealworm in the next 2-3 years.
While both crickets and grubs are sustainable, there are a couple of areas that set the grubs apart from a sustainability perspective. In this post, we’ll explore what makes these proteins so sustainable and then focus in on the areas that take the grub to the next level!
WHAT MAKES SOMETHING SUSTAINABLE? 🌱
The most often quoted definition of sustainability comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development:
“sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The goal with insect farming is to generate protein while avoiding the problems that we have with traditional livestock. Those problems include high levels of carbon emissions & ammonia, inefficient land use, deforestation, high water usage coupled with water degradation, etc.
While not perfect, insect farming is exponentially better than traditional livestock farming.
WHAT MAKES INSECT FARMING SUSTAINABLE?
There is a long list of reasons why insect protein is sustainable. Our shorthand is to say less land, less water and fewer greenhouse gases but there is much more to it than that! Here are the key reasons why insects are sustainable, and these reasons are consistent across both cricket and grub farming.
LESS LAND NEEDED - On an insect farm, there is no need for acres of grassland. These farms are indoors, and the latest farms are designed so that they can add additional capacity vertically – incredibly space-efficient!
FARMED INDOORS – Everything is contained in a “barn”. This is important because it means that there is no waste water run off or manure to dispose of.
NO WASTE – The entire animal is edible and used. Even the bedding and excrement is collected and used as a fertilizer called FRASS (see below for more on FRASS!)
SHORT LIFE CYCLE – Insects mature quickly (measured in weeks) and that means that many generations of insects can be reared throughout the course of a year. Compare to a cow that takes over a year to grow to maturity.
GROW QUICKLY – Not only do they mature quickly but their rate of growth is astounding. Grubs grow 1000x their size in 3 short weeks.
NATURALLY SWARMING – Insects prefer to live together – crickets and grubs are a naturally swarming species. They prefer to live in close proximity to each other, so, you can humanely raise them in tight quarters.
LAY MANY EGGS – Insects reproduce at a high rate. Take the grub as an example – the mature fly can lay up to 500 eggs easily in one go (compare to a single calf for a cow with a gestation period of ~280 days).
COLD BLOODED - Insects are cold-blooded, they are highly efficient in converting low-grade feed to high quality protein. Cold-blooded animals need less energy than warm-blooded animals who need more power to produce heat and regulate their constant body temperature. That’s what makes them more efficient in converting food!
BETTER FEED CONVERSION – Feed conversion ratio is something that livestock farmers focus on. A better feed conversion ratio means that you need less feed to grow a pound of protein. Insects have excellent feed conversion ratios (this is related to the fact that they are cold blooded).
LESS WATER 💧 Crickets and grubs require a fraction of the water that traditional livestock require. Grubs can get most of the water that they require from their food source.
FEWER GREENHOUSE GASES - With insects there’s almost no methane produced (a far worse greenhouse gas than CO2). This is where you really see us fighting climate change with this solution.
FRASS MAKES PLANTS STRONGER – Frass is an all-natural agricultural product composed of insect frass (manure), exoskeletons, and residual plant-based insect feed. It makes soil better and plants stronger! This is one of the reasons why you see insects referred to in circular agriculture.
GRUBS ARE EVEN MORE SUSTAINABLE THAN CRICKETS 🐛
Insect protein it such a great solution, it’s hard to believe that there are even more benefits possible, but it’s true! Here’s a few areas where grubs deliver even more sustainability!
MORE PER ACRE – Grubs can yield one to two million pounds of protein per acre of production per year due to breeding and growth efficiency of the black soldier fly, as well as the enhanced ability to vertically farm this species.
Yield per acre of land:
CIRCULAR AGRICULTURE – One of the many reasons that the grub or BSFL is moving to the forefront of insect protein is their ability to utilize virtually any feed source. Grubs can not only accelerate the breakdown of waste but can also use that waste as a feed source for themselves, thus limiting what we put into landfills. The grubs that are used for pet food utilize pre-consumer food by-products such as brewer’s grains and cookie meal, which could otherwise end up in the landfill. The difference between pre- and post-consumer food waste is who last handled the food before it’s considered a “waste” product. Pre-consumer food by-products (also known as pre-consumer food waste) are last handled by any entity (person or company) responsible for food production. Post-consumer food waste is last handled by the consumer.
OFFERING A VARIETY OF INSECT PROTEINS
At Jiminy’s, we’re thrilled to be able to offer a variety of insect proteins to our customers. We believe it is beneficial to the dog – we love rotation diets (see our blog post explaining rotation diet) – each of the insect proteins offer slightly different taste and nutritional benefit.
Happy pets, healthy planet!! 🐾