Sextiped Valley column: Real foods for your pet – why not?
August 17, 2018
Last month, I wrote (again) about why pet food companies are not to be trusted. I got a lot of feedback, mostly along the lines of, "well, what are we supposed to feed them, then?" It's a fair question. But I have been repeatedly asked it for 11 years, now (dating from the disastrous epidemic of sick and dead animals caused by the Menu Foods melamine contamination of 2007) and my answer, although in details is more complete and nuanced today than then, is the same in essence: learn the basics of what your pet's species requires and provide it the best you can, as whole and unprocessed as possible. It's simple and we know it to be true for ourselves, too. Yet we somehow do not act on it.
So this month, I'm going to share what seem to me to be the best motivators for stepping out of our comfort zones and acting on what we know. At the end, I'll recommend a couple of sources to guide newbies in implementing this — the "how" of the proposition. But first, the "why." It only takes one compelling purpose to inspire a change of habit. I'm going to give you six. Use any or all!
1. The first of these is love. Love for your loving companions. When you make food for your family, you want to provide wholesome and delicious meals. If you lived next door to a McDonald's, would you let your kids eat three meals a day there? If someone tried to tell you some manufactured product — an energy bar, say — could give them more "complete and balanced nutrition" than fresh, homemade meals, would you believe it? If your child got hooked on fast food at camp and refused to eat healthy meals, would you give in? Of course not.
2. Then there is caring, in a more expansive sense. Care for the lives and deaths of the animals raised to be eaten. Care for the farmers who raise them, the land, water and air quality their rearing impacts. Care for the workers in slaughterhouses who do the hard, dangerous work to provide meat for us — humans, and our carnivorous pets. Caring that inspires us to pay a little more, take a bit more time, if it will ease the burden our needs place on the planet.
3. How about the joy and satisfaction of learning a practical skill, acquiring useful knowledge? With the little extra thrill of knowing there are bad companies out there betting against you: that you won't take the trouble, and will keep their shareholders rolling in dough.
4. A little less benevolently, there is the undeniable pleasure of anticipated schadenfreude as you picture their shrinking coffers and the dismay of cynical corporate titans as they realize that their dupes are wising up.
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5. If you're a person who takes pride in thriftiness and quality, in fully and gratefully making use of things, avoiding excess and waste, you're sure to be pleased by knowing that even the less prime parts of the foods you buy or raise are providing wholesome nutrition to your pets instead of rotting in the garbage and making you feel guilty. (Picture those broccoli stalks that account for half the weight you paid for.)
6. For me, buying good food (or growing it), locally when I can, organic when I can, turning it into delicious meals for my furry family, my friends and myself, realizing that I'm actually doing something to actively resist the damaging systems I am enmeshed in, is a pretty effective antidepressant. I'm being neighborly and generous when I buy from, share with, and give back to people in my community who are also, in the ways they can, resisting the Machine. It just feels good. To use an over-used word, it's empowering.
Whatever gets you into it, the rewards come every time you feed your pet and get to see the way he relishes each nourishing, delicious love offering from you. Are you ready for the "how?" It's really not that difficult or time consuming. Two books I recommend are Canine Nutrigenomics, by Jean Dodds, DVM, and Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet by Steve Brown. I'll happily provide coaching and encouragement, too. Just email me at email@example.com. What are you waiting for?
Laurie Raymond owns High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters in Glenwood Springs.