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How Two Chicagoans Are Turning Jumping Asian Carp Into Pet Food

By Justin Breen | April 18, 2016 6:17am | Updated on May 6, 2016 10:54am
 Logan Honeycutt (l.) and Mike Cody at the Chicago Innovation Awards.
Logan Honeycutt (l.) and Mike Cody at the Chicago Innovation Awards.
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Logan Honeycutt

CHICAGO — Logan Honeycutt believes he's found the solution to the invasive Asian carp problem: Pet food.

Honeycutt and fellow Lakeview resident Mike Cody last year launched BareItAll Petfoods, which contains Asian carp as its main protein source and includes other foods like dried sweet potatoes, flax seed and mangos. The products — currently in three different sizes sold in about 45 retail stores throughout Chicago and the suburbs — are offered only as dog treats, but Honeycutt said the company is expanded to the cat market this summer.

Sr. Editor Justin Breen talks about Asian Carp reduction through dog treats.

"I thought I was taking crazy pills when I looked it up and saw no one else was doing this," said Honeycutt, who wrote his senior thesis at College of Charleston on the environmental impact of Asian carp. "All of the efforts have been focused on creating a human market, which has had very, very little success. Right away, we saw enormous potential with the pet market. Options are endless when you view it from a market-based perspective as food for other animals."

Honeycutt and Cody's goal is to have the Downstate fishermen they employ catch hundreds of thousands of pounds of the Asian carp every month and "really impact the population," Honeycutt said.

"We are very excited to help create a sustainable solution to this ecological issue, that is not only good for the environment, but is also beneficial for pet's health," Cody said.

The algae- and plankton-eating Asian carp are believed to have been introduced to the United States in the early 1970s from China to help clean fish farms in the south. But they escaped into waterways and eventually made it to the Mississippi River and began moving north and into the Illinois River and other waterways. They haven't shown up in big numbers in Chicago, yet, but one was found in the Humboldt Park lagoon in 2012.

 

Asian carp species are voracious eaters — and can jump out of the water in and at boats — consuming much of the food that native fish would normally eat. Because of these large appetites, they can be the most harmful to native aquatic environments.

"When I was doing my thesis, I was blown away by how terrible they are," Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt and Cody have known each other since college, and Cody was the best man at Honeycutt's wedding. After conceiving the pet food idea, they started testing the treats on their dogs in late 2014: Cody has a blue pit bull named Mustache; Honeycutt has two rescue dogs — a beagle-bulldog mix named Lily, and a pit bull-bulldog mix named Dahlia.

"On our own dogs at home, and some of our friends' dogs, they went crazy for these treats," Honeycutt said. "That's when we thought we really had something to take to market."

The Asian carp are caught Downstate and manufactured with the other ingredients at a Schaumburg warehouse. Cody and Honeycutt's operation runs out of an office at Irving Park and Ravenswood, just east of the Brown Line stop.

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