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Wild Earth Treats Feature Tasty Koji

Off the Shelf

Mmm, koji. Who knew dogs would be fans of Aspergillus oryzae? Wild Earth Inc. of Berkeley did, or at least is banking on dogs and their humans liking its new line of no-meat “Good Protein Dog Snacks” with koji, fungi used to ferment foods.

Koji supposedly tastes good, but it also contains all 10 essential amino acids dogs require to thrive, and Wild Earth has come up with two types of koji-rich treats — banana and cinnamon flavor and peanut butter flavor. A 5-ounce package sells for $14.99, and the snacks are popping up in San Francisco Bay Area pet stores (and in curated boxes of independent sellers).

Bay Woof test dog Wiley gobbles up both types with equal enthusiasm. Small and square-shaped, they can easily be broken down for tiny nibbles as rewards. Wiley is still quite anxious in urban settings, and not even these goodies can get her off high-alert, tail lowered or tucked, when she’s walking mid-morning or mid-day in the busy Jack London warehouse district of Oakland. But in the office, at home, in the car, or at the barn, she eats these treats with gusto.

Wild Earth bills itself as startup reinventing pet food with biotech. Its product is a high-protein treat with a veterinarian-developed formula that offers omega fatty acids, digestion-boosting enzymes, and prebiotics to support gastrointestinal microbiomes in pets. The treats contain no animal ingredients, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, additives, fillers, or “mystery” ingredients.

“As the first commercially available pet product made via cellular agriculture, our koji treats break entirely new ground for our dogs, our planet, and our industry,” said Ryan Bethencourt, CEO of Wild Earth, in a press release.

Bethencourt, a vegan who has fostered dogs for Rocket Dog Rescue and is a biotech entrepreneur, was appalled to learn dogs and cats are responsible for 25 percent to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States and set out to find a better way to create a nutritional treat from an economically friendly and sustainable source, which turned out to be koji.

Wild Earth prides itself on “developing clean high-protein pet foods that are healthier, better for the environment, and more humane than conventional products.” Its team also includes chief science officer Ron Shigeta, Ph.D., and Dr. Ernie Ward, “America’s Pet Advocate.” For more information visit WildEarth.com.

Meanwhile, find the snacks in the Bay Area at Animal Place’s Vegan Republic and Holistic Hound in Berkeley; Farmer Joe’s Marketplace, Jack London Pet Store, Leading the Pack, and Temescal Brewing in Oakland; Fog City Pet Supply in Pacifia; Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods in San Francisco; and Jewels of the Forest in Sebastopol.

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Main article photo by: Photos courtesy Wild Earth