While dogs’ ancient ancestors were wolves, for the last 10,000 years or so their ancestors likely scarfed down human refuse and handouts during domestication. While nutritionally balanced dog diets have replaced trash middens and leftovers, modern canines can still fulfill their primeval passion for making sure no food goes to waste. Shameless Pets uses unwanted fruits, vegetables and other ingredients to make upcycled dog treats. Upcycling refers to the process of finding and using otherwise wasted materials to create new products, in this case saving food scraps from the scrap heap.
James Bello, founder of Shameless Pets, finds farmers and food processors with products that, while perfectly healthy, have cosmetic or similar problems that knock them out of the running for human chow. Bello upcycles these misfit edibles into dog treats with functional benefits. The treats contain at least 20% upcycled ingredients.
“More than 60 million tons of food are thrown away in the United States each year,” he said.
Bello aims to rescue, as he says, those otherwise lost ingredients. Saving agricultural products means the greenhouse gases released during their cultivation were not spewed in vain. Likewise, wildlife habitat lost to farmland and water diverted to irrigation was not for naught. Upcycled pet food ingredients may reduce competition between human and pet food producers for raw materials.
“We put a spin on it with unique combinations and functional benefits, such as lobsters’ shells ground down to use in hip and joint formulations or using pumpkin for digestive health,” Bello said.
Examples of upcycled dog treat ingredients
Speaking of lobster shells, those and egg shells are the only upcycled ingredients Shameless uses that aren’t technically the same fruits and veggies humans eat. While upcycled blueberries may be oddly shaped, they still received the same cultivation techniques and food safety measures as aesthetically excellent fruit. So, many of these upcycled ingredients are GMO-free and human-grade, though Shameless can’t use these terms in marketing materials, Bello said.
Upcycled pet food ingredient: source
- Egg shell powder: liquid egg production
- Minced lobster and shell: tail/claw processing
- Apple Pomace, Blueberry, Cranberry: residuals after juicing
- Pumpkin: post-processing leftovers
- Cheese powder: Ends and irregulars rescued during cheese production
- Brussel sprouts: Leaves and off-sized pieces
That list isn’t all that’s available to upcycle. Bello hasn’t had trouble finding ingredients he needed through upcycling.
“You can go to almost any ingredient from human food and find the upcycled version,” he said.