Grubbly Farms co-founders Sean Warner, left, and Patrick Pittaluga.

Grubbly Farms is a growing business that started with chicken feed — literally. 

Cousins Patrick Pittaluga and Sean Warner, the co-founders of Grubbly Farms, became fascinated with the insect industry and the positive impact it could have on the environment. They began growing grubs in their college laundry room at Georgia Tech, and “the more we learned about these insects, the more we realized how much of a powerhouse protein grubs are –  for our pets and planet,” Warner said.

He explained that, unlike conventional meat, black soldier fly grubs can be sustainably grown in close quarters with very few resources. Just one pound of grubs can recycle 10 pounds of food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Grubs also are packed with nutrients. One pound of oven-dried grubs has more protein than one pound of prime rib – while using 90% fewer resources to harvest the meat.

“By sourcing our protein from sustainable grub farms, we can help combat our nation’s massive food waste issue – all while replacing common protein for pets with clean, nutrient-rich meat,” Warner said. “No hormones. No funky byproducts. No additives.”

Start of a start-up

Pittaluga and Warner began Grubbly Farms in 2015 as a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand that provides healthy and sustainable pet food, delivered directly, and shipped free.

“We started serving backyard flocks first, bringing our feathered friends back to their original diet with sustainably harvested insect protein and vegetables – healthier foods for them with a fraction of the environmental footprint as traditional chicken feed,” Warner said.

More than 10 million U.S. households have chickens in their backyards as pets. To meet customer demand, Grubbly Farms has partnered with sustainable farms in the United States, Canada, and around the world. 

Warner noted that Grubbly pet food has recycled over 11 million pounds of food waste to date, and they have picked up some great partnerships along the way, like Coop Dreams TV and Fresh Eggs Daily.

Grubbly Farms also receives a lot of social content from customers of their pets running as soon as they shake the bag. “We started calling it #GrubblyHappyHour as we saw how quickly Grubbly pet food unites the whole family – fluffy ones and their humans, too!” Warner said.

Continuing to grow

In March, Grubbly Farms entered the dog food market with sustainable snacks for dogs. “Made with grub protein and other sustainable superfoods, our soft and chewy snacks are as healthy for dogs as they are for the planet,” Warner said. “Unlike your typical dog treat, our snacks are made a novel protein to which dogs have not developed allergies – perfect for dogs with food sensitivities.”

He added that one benefit of grub protein is it can be used in a wide range of pet foods for fish, cats, dogs, exotic pets and farm animals. “Like us, all types of pets naturally enjoy a variety of meats – including insects,” Warner explained. “This offers a large opportunity to expand horizontally across multiple markets while offering highly nutritious food that promote a greener, brighter future for our pets and planet.” 

Over the past two years, the Grubbly Farms team has tripled, and this year, they plan to expand the team further. Anyone with a passion for pets and a belief in the power of grubs, is encouraged to contact them.

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Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.