Thursday, May 27, 2010

Delta Society (aka Purina) Bans Raw-Fed Dogs from Pet Therapy Program

Dogs are not only man's best friend, they also help sick people get well and dying people feel happier.  Pets that are trained to remain calm and behave in a friendly fashion with hospitalized children and older adults in nursing homes and hospices have become commonplace.  Benefits to patients and to therapy dog owners are easily observable in smiles and laughs.

The largest therapy dog training organization is the Delta Society, which operates out of Bellingham, WA.  This month Delta told its pet therapy trainers and Pet Partners, the thousands of volunteers who own therapy dogs, that dogs fed raw meats will be excluded from their programs, beginning in June.  Delta's communication is posted on their web site.

Reason given for excluding raw-fed dogs is potential bacterial transmission from dogs to vulnerable patients.  Delta Society alleges its Medical Advisory Group recommended to the Board the exclusion of raw-fed dogs based on overwhelming research data.  What data?  They don't say. They do proclaim that no pet food company influenced their decision.

Let's get real.  The Delta Society is sponsored by Nestle-Purina.  An officer of the Board is the Marketing Director for Purina.  On the Home page of their web site, Delta  posts the following:

Thank you to our incredible partner, the passionate pet lovers at Purina.

Your Pet, Our Passion -- don't you just love it?

The directive excluding raw-fed dogs asserts there is no scientific information to favor raw or home-cooked diets over commercial pet food.  Raw-fed pets, they say, may appear to be healthy, but....  I am sure Purina would not recognize any evidence favoring raw-diets over kibbles and canned mush, even if they allowed such evidence to exist.

Further, they assert, there is copious evidence that raw-fed dogs can be hazards to people with compromised immune systems.  The hazards of raw meats they cite apply to anyone who handles raw meat -- clean your  hands and surfaces that meats touch thoroughly.  Oh, yes, don't eat dog poop and wash your hands after cleaning up dog poop.  Are they suggesting that patients in hospitals and nursing homes would eat dog poop?  Clean up poop?  How many come into contact with raw meat -- aren't their meals prepared in the hospital kitchen and delivered cooked to their bedsides?

The real question is whether visiting dogs, carefully bathed and groomed by Delta's devoted Pet Partners, pose a bacterial threat to hospitalized patients.   Here's the best evidence they have.  A study from the University of Guelph Veterinary School followed 200 raw-fed and kibble-fed therapy dogs for a year, analyzing stool samples every 2 months.  One question was whether therapy dogs carry bacteria commonly found in healthcare facilities (that is, are dogs getting bacteria from visiting hospitals?)

Question:  What are the incidence rates of specific pathogens in therapy dogs and do these rates vary by level of exposure to healthcare facilities?
Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA)
Extend-spectrum b-lactamase (ESBL) E. coli
Clostridium difficile
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)
Salmonella spp

Three of the bacteria are common in hospitals:  MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and VRE.  These hospital-bacteria are  dangerously resistant to antibiotic treatment.  Non-specific Salmonella and E. coli are found on raw meats, vegetables, eggs -- everywhere.

A higher percentage of kibble-fed therapy dogs were found to carry the dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria!  The implication is that kibble-fed dogs are more susceptible to bacteria acquired from visiting hospitals. These dogs then carry these bacteria back to other hospital sites they visit.  Author did not discuss the implications of this result.

More raw-fed dogs carry Salmonella spp, and various E. coli, which are usually benign and commonly found in intestinal tracts of healthy animals and people.  Overwhelming amounts of normal intestinal bacteria can make animals and people ill.  Patients with compromised immune systems are probably more prone to develop illnesses from these bacteria.  No quantitative assessment was done, so we don't know if small or large amounts of bacteria were present in the stools of these otherwise healthy animals.

What does the author recommend?  First, please note that Royal Canin Pet Food Company (owned by Mars) endowed the small animal nutrition program at the University of Guelph Veterinary School in 2009.  Second, please note that Royal Canin influences (can withdraw funding, if not pleased) the professor who is chosen as the chaired professor and determines the small-animal iresearch program.  What will this Ph.D. student in small animal nutrition conclude about the safety of dogs on raw versus kibble diets as therapy animals?

Dogs that consume raw diets are considerably more likely to carry Salmonella than dogs that do not
These dogs also appear to be considerably more likely to carry ESBL E. coli
Just because dogs are shedding doesn’t mean people are going to get sick…
Therapy dogs that consume raw diets should be barred from interacting with people in healthcare setting.
 Nary a word is said about the dangerous bacteria carried by more kibble-fed dogs.  She does note that just because dogs shed bacteria in their feces does not mean people will get sick, unless they eat poop or clean up poop.  

Internet groups that discuss pet foods condemn the Delta Society's exclusion of raw-fed dogs, even if they don't support raw-feeding.  Susan Thixton says:
This is one of the most ridiculous moves I’ve seen yet from a national charity; right up there with the Humane Society of the United States making a pet food in Uruguay.  The Delta Society is kicking out any pet owner that has made the educated decision to feed their pet raw food.
I don’t feed my pets raw, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve dealt with verbal abuse from steadfast raw feeders; one even demanded my website “condemn all pet owners that feed anything but raw”.  Demanded! No kidding.  But, I support any pet owner that makes an educated decision to feed raw.

Christie Keith says:
 I’ve been trying to pretend the Delta Society, the nation’s leading therapy dog organization, hadn’t just issued a ban on participation by dogs fed a raw diet. Because honestly, after 24 years of feeding raw meat, eggs and dairy products to my dogs and cats with not a single food-borne illness or nutritional problem, I’m just plain tired of this debate.
Do they honestly believe a living creature, let alone one that regularly licks its own butt, is ever going to be sterile?
Others call for action against the Delta Society.  Supporters of raw pet diets can write to the Delta Society to express their views on exclusion of raw-fed dogs from Pet Partners.  Pet Partner volunteers who feed raw diets can resign under protest.
Pass this on to all the raw feeders you can find.  I hope there is mass resignation from Delta Society.
Lucy Rasmussen, ScD
For me, the Delta Society is another example of the pernicious impact of pet-food funding on veterinary and animal welfare organizations.  Here, their long arm extends to a human-focused nonprofit organization that uses pets as therapy for sick and dying people.  It's disturbing and disgusting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adventures in a Raw Pet Food Co-op

Wes's experience with his first order of raw-meaty-bones reminds me of all the vagaries I encountered when Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op began.

Wes started Oahu Raw, our counterpart on the main Hawaiian island, with heavily populated Honolulu as its center.  He looked all over Oahu for a local beef producer that could provide grass-fed beef, raised without hormones and antibiotics.  He found NONE.  The last ranch on Oahu is going out of business this month, another victim of high land prices.  All the beef on Oahu will come either from mainland feedlots (loaded with growth hormones and antibiotics) or from the Big Island or Maui, which still have grass-fed beef operations.

Cattle ranches are not the only local meat producers that are threatened with extinction.  Hawaii Island had three chicken farms as recently as 5 years ago.  Now we have NONE, because the price of chicken feed, imported from the mainland, made local chicken farms uncompetitive with mainland chicken factories.  Tyson and Perdue can buy taxpayer-subsidized feed and crowd birds into darkened coops to become marketable in 6 to 8 weeks. These pathetic birds are genetically selected to have big breasts and are almost unable to stand or walk.  They are fed antibiotics and growth hormones to hasten their growth to market weight.

Free-range chickens, raised in more natural environments without growth hormones and antibiotics, take much longer to reach marketable weights, and they cost far more to raise.  Until consumers are willing to pay twice or three times more for free-range chickens, mass producers of poisoned birds will dominate the chicken market.  Evidently, Hawaii does not have enough discriminating consumers to keep local chicken farms in business.  For pets, most owners take a deep breath and feed factory-raised chickens, because they can't afford to make a healthier choice.

Pork?  Forget it.  There are no pig farms left in Hawaii.  Pork factory-farms on the mainland are notorious for producing methane-gas and enormous quantities of aquifer-threatening waste.  Although other countries have developed less offensive pig-farming methods, the cost of humane, healthy farming techniques makes healthy pork uncompetitive with factory-farmed meat -- a familiar and depressing story.

Unable to find any local source of grass-fed beef or healthy-raised chickens, Wes placed his first order with Hawaii Beef Producers, which processes local grass-fed beef and can supply mainland chickens, pork, and other meats.  His first order arrived by barge from Hawaii Island yesterday.  He picked up 6 large brown cartons with about 200 pounds of frozen meats and meaty bones.

First question is what is it?  Meats came packaged in 5- to 15-pound plastic pouches, many of which look alike.  With frozen meat, it's difficult to tell what's in the package.  Is is cheek meat, skirt meat, liver, what?  He could identify chickens, beef tracheas, ribs, hearts, and neck bones, but what was in the other dozen frozen blocks?

Second question is how to divide frozen 10-pound packages into individual orders for 1- 2-, or 4-pounds?  Thawing large packages of frozen meat is not a simple or quick process.  I put some frozen packages in the sink in cold water to hasten thawing.  I have not used a microwave yet to thaw meats, but that's another option.  In any case, it is far easier to fill smaller orders with chilled than frozen meats.

Third question is how to store all that meat he cannot distribute immediately.  Wes bought a chest freezer for his own Great Danes that is large enough to hold his first order.  Simply putting all the large packages of frozen meats in his own freezer, however, does not address how to divide and fill members' orders.

It takes some mental adjustments and creative thinking to figure out how to organize and run a raw-meaty-bones co-op.  Wes plans to ask HBP to send chilled, rather than frozen, meats and maybe to label packages.  That will be a good start toward resolving some of the issues.

Raw-meaty-bones are becoming so popular at Kona Raw, and prospectively much more popular at Oahu Raw, we may outstrip the local beef supply.  On several occasions, Hawaii Beef Producers has had to delay delivery of beef hearts and kidneys, which are very popular pet-food items, because they simply did not slaughter enough cattle to meet Kona Raw's demand.  Mature beef cattle have only one heart and two kidneys, amidst a thousand pounds of other meats and organs. We need to expand members' preferences for parts of the cow.  Some members order spleens and lungs.  My dogs like tracheas (again, there's only one per cow).  I need to explore again what parts of the cow the USDA inspector will approve for sale as pet food.

Pet owners provide a new market for Hawaii Beef Producers.   Before Kona Raw, HBP had to pay fees to put meats that pets eat into the landfill.  HBP is thrilled and amazed at the growth and potential of the pet-food market.  The other, smaller meat packer on this island, Kaumana, claims they sell all their pet food to Hilo customers, who come to their plant to pick up their orders.  I have to conclude that far more pet owners are quietly feeding their pets raw-meaty-bones than anyone suspects.

Is something like this happening in other communities around the world?   Are pet owners wising up to the commercial pet-food fraud and voting with their pocketbooks to switch to raw-meaty-bones?  It would be great to know.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Engage in Controversies?

It takes a special constitution to engage in, and even enjoy, controversies.  Most people do not enjoy standing on principle, while opponents throw rocks at them.  It is more comfortable to turn away from the fray and find a less disturbing diversion.  Engaging in intellectual and political battles takes energy, time, and exacts an emotional toll.  It can even be dangerous.  So, why do it?

One reason to engage in controversies is because one cares deeply about an issue.  If one cares enough about the consequences or the principle at stake, it's worth fighting for.  For some people, patritotism in time of national threat is worth their personal sacrifice.  For others, threatened civil liberties are worth a stand.  Many principles evoke strong commitments that lead some people to fight for them.  Not all principles have overwhelming public approval, like nationalism in time of war.  Some principles, such as equal rights for blacks or gays, had less than majority approval when advocates stood and died for these causes. 

Intellectual battles are usually less dangerous to one's physical being but still costly to one's personal security and often to one's professional career.  I have to admit that my academic career and my retirement years are fraught with controversies.  For 35 years, I fought "naive environmentalism" in the behavioral sciences.  Naive environmentalism is the belief that all behavioral differences among people arise from differences in their environments.  Psychological studies were, and many still are, based on this false assumption. 

My research focused on genetic differences among people that proved to be very important to understanding why each of us is unique.  Behavior genetic studies showed that intellectual and personality differences among people are mostly due to genetic differences among them, not to differences in opportunities or exposures to environments.  "How people make their own environments" became a classic paper, written with Kathleen McCartney, now Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  I was honored by professional and academic societies for my research.  These intellectual controversies cost me emotional grief, but I was fortunate to be exonerated and even honored in the end.

Since retiring to Hawaii, I have learned to grow Kona coffee and to pursue a lifelong interest in breeding and raising purebred dogs.  It's odd that each arena provides its own controversies.  In Kona coffee, the huge, emotional issue is that 10% Kona blends (90% foreign coffees) are legally permitted to use the famous Kona name.  Even coffee experts cannot taste 10% Kona coffee in a 90% foreign blend.  The name Kona sells fraudulently labeled blends. 

We, Kona coffee farmers, are understandably outraged at a state Legislature that permits such a tourist rip-off and desecration of Kona coffee's reputation.  We protest, write letters to editors of magazines and newspapers,  fly to Honolulu to testify at the Legislature -- year after year -- with no results.  The coffee blends are owned by huge food companies, with local representatives that know how to keep state legislators in line.  I served on the board and was president of one Kona coffee organization that was taken over by the blenders.  Farmers founded a new organization, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, and I served two terms on the board.  Not one to shy away from controversies, I have done my share of  protesting and suffering for Kona coffee.

Breeding and raising Labrador retrievers taught me a great deal I did not know about feeding carnivorous pets.  Like most pet owners in the Western world, I thought dogs eat kibble and maybe some canned dog food from time to time.  Certainly, I knew better than to feed them human foods or leftovers.  Some months into raising Lab puppies on premium dog chow, I noticed some had itchiness, hot sports, inflamed ears, and one had sore joints.  The regular vet prescribed antihistamines and steroids.  I was dissatisfied that my well-bred puppies were having so many problems, so he referred me to a holistic vet.  She changed my life.

Long story made short: I learned that cooked starches are not suitable foods for carnivorous dogs. Dog chows cause all manner of minor allergies and much more serious systemic disorders in the long run.  After several years of making the BARF diet of cooked brown rice, minced veggies, and raw-meaty-bones, I realized what dogs need is simply raw-meaty-bones.  My dogs have thrived ever since. 

Why, I asked, do most veterinarians recommend and sell kibbles and canned mush, when dogs and cats need raw-meaty-bones?  That question led me into the current controversy that occupies a great deal of my time -- the pet-food conspiracy.  Here it is in a nutshell:  Global food companies produce pet foods from human food waste, a very profitable business.  Global food companies support veterinary education, research, and practice, and animal welfare organizations, thereby insuring their professional endorsement of species-inappropriate foods.  How can this damaging conspiracy be allowed to go unchallenged?

In the process of investigating raw-meaty-bones, I contacted the author of the book, Raw Meaty Bones, Tom Lonsdale, DVM in Australia.  He and I became frequent correspondents.  I heard his sad tale of controversies with veterinary authorities over pet diets that eventually led to his leaving veterinary practice.  Not only were the authorities unwilling to consider his evidence against starchy diets and the cures that can be had with raw meats and meaty bones, they forbade him to criticize the veterinary profession for its endorsement of cooked starches for carnivorous pets.  Dr. Lonsdale has suffered enormously for standing up for the truth about pet foods.

I have joined with Dr. Lonsdale and a few other intrepid vets to battle pet food giants and corruption in the veterinary profession.  Stakes are enormous.  Commercial pet food is a $50 billion/ year global business.  Vets in the US reap an estimated $4 billion/ year from pet food sales.  Pets are being sickened and killed by the millions.  Unwitting pet owners are being bilked out of $ billions/year in unnecessary vet bills.  Yes, the stakes are enormous.  This is a controversy I cannot turn away from, for love of my own dogs and cat, and for all the millions of pets who can live healthier, longer lives on diets of raw-meaty-bones. 

I also want to be counted among those who stand up for FOOD, when global food companies threaten the health of all of us, not only our pets, with highly processed, corn- and soy-based concoctions they pass off as food.  The food supply is in crisis.  It is not safe.  It is not wholesome.  It is worth fighting for.

I am fortunate to have low blood pressure and to be surrounded with friends who understand my commitments.   All the principles and truths I have stood up for in my life have been worth the time, emotional pain, and energy required.  I seem to be constitutionally suited for a life of controversies.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Can Pet Owners Fight Global Pet Food Giants?

Pet food battles are a David-Goliath tale:  Tens of millions of  pet owners allied against multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Mars, Nestle-Purina, Colgate-Palmolive, Proctor & Gamble, Heinz, Del Monte, and a few other international giants.

Pet owners vote with their pocketbooks, of course.  Owners who feed their cats and dogs raw-meaty-bones and BARF diets do not buy pet-food companies' kibbles and canned mush.  But hundreds of millions of other pet owners buy their pet foods, yielding them enormous profits, which are used to perpetuate the myth that cooked starches are a good diet for carnivorous pets.

Just for fun, I added up the memberships in leading Yahoo groups that are devoted to feeding dogs (mostly) and cats raw diets, instead of commercial junk foods.  I quit adding when the list included 44,892 members, and there were 10 more pages of Yahoo groups to go.  Some people have multiple memberships in raw-feeding groups, so is impossible to know how many individuals any total represents.  Most groups number members in the hundreds, but there are hundreds of groups.

There are unique raw-food groups by location (for example, 1,676 members of the Finnish language site, 987 in the Phoenix AZ raw-pet-food co-op), by species (e.g., 3937 in RawCat), by dog breed (e.g., 390 in RawAussies for Australian shepherds, 886 in NaturalGrey for greyhounds ), and type of raw diet (e.g., 17,819 in rawfeeding for the whole prey/RMB diet). 

Most raw pet-feeders do not join or participate in Yahoo groups.  They just quietly feed their pets the raw diet they think is appropriate.  There are likely tens of millions of pet owners worldwide who feed their pets exclusively or primarily raw-meaty-bones or BARF diets.  They may have experienced pets' illnesses and/or deaths from preventable diseases created by commercial pet foods, and they simply switched to raw-feeding.  Among my Lab puppy buyers are many people with this experience

People who join Yahoo groups are looking for, and offering, feeding advice or information on how to locate sources of raw pet foods or just sharing their bad experiences with commercial pet foods and local veterinarians, most of whom adamantly oppose raw-feeding.  Yahoo groups are the epitome of self-help groups.  Members share their experiences to help others with similar problems.  When a member, especially a new member, posts a question or asks for help, the deluge of helpful responses is amazing.

Even the 100,000 pet owners, let's guess, who participate in one or more Yahoo groups are an unorganized mass, unlikely to be mobilized against giant pet-food companies.  Each one has had a epiphany that led him/her to abandon commercial pet foods and to adopt a raw diet, but they have not joined a crusade against the makers of junk pet foods.  They just opted out of kibbles and canned mush, not into a revolution.

Advertising budgets of leading pet-food companies sum to $ hundreds of millions.  They pay for global media attention.  Why not capture Internet attention as well?  Pet-food manufacturers are very busy trying to co-opt  Internet groups into supporting their products.  They found their own groups and offer incentives for people to join -- discount coupons on junk foods, free veterinary advice, and the like.  They post favorable comments about their commercial pet foods on Facebook and Twitter. They engage veterinary nutritionists to endorse their foods on seemingly neutral, Internet sites for pet owners.

When you visit one of these vet-advice sites, because your pet has allergies or infected gums, they advise you feed the same commercial pet foods that created the problem in the first place.  It's rather like stumbling into a pro-life office, when you wanted to find an abortion clinic.  They appeared to offer help for your problem, but they are just a front for pet-food companies.

Despite pet-food companies' $ hundreds of millions in advertising and their increasing presence on the Internet, tens of millions of pet owners have found their way to raw diets.  Raw-feeding pet owners have friends and relatives with pets.  Word of mouth and examples of healthy pets are spreading the raw-diet revolution, slowly and quietly.

One local example: A Canine Vice Squad officer adopted raw-meaty-bones for her service dog, after she read research on the dulling effect of bad teeth on olfactory sensitivity.  Dogs with bad teeth don't smell well, and odor discrimination is the basis for narcotic-sniffing dogs' work.  After she switched her dog to rmb, his teeth became white and his gums lost their inflammation.  Other officers noticed his shiny coat and increased vitality.  The police canine unit has a contract with a local veterinarian to purchase Hill's Science Diet for their dogs.  They plan to switch all their dogs to rmb and to purchase their meaty bones from the local pet-food co-op.  These same officers have pets at home and lots of friends and relatives with pets.  And so the message spreads....

So, how will the pet-food revolution happen?  One can imagine fiery court battles over the harm done to pets by high-starch diets, but court battles are unlikely. In the US, Goliath can bury David in legal paperwork, and the case would never be heard in a court. The expense of responding to an avalanche of pretrial motions and discovery would defeat any volunteer group.  If such a case ever got to court, Goliath could line up its supporting cast of veterinarians and animal welfare groups, which depend on pet-food largesse for their very existence, to testify to the healthiness of commercial pet foods..  Pet-food lackeys would certify the scientific (sic) virtue of cooked starches and artificial nutrients for pets.  What evidence could be marshalled by raw-feeding groups to attack commercial junk foods ?  Evolutionary theory, anecdotes, and common sense, which are unlikely to win in court.

A raw-food coalition with enough legal assistance might unearth pet-food company documents admitting they know raw pet-diets are superior and acknowledging their starchy foods cause health problems.  That kind of discovery would be very helpful.  What do you think are the chances that, once challenged to a court battle, these very savvy companies will retain any damaging evidence?  The vision of shredding masses of documents and erasing computer hard-drives comes quickly to mind.  It is very unlikely, in my opinion, that much damaging evidence could be found, although I am confident it exists now.

I think a Quiet Revolution is far more likely than a court-room confrontation.  More and more pet owners, simply going about their daily business of choosing a diet for their pets, choose raw diets.  These millions of individual choices change the marketplace.  Global food companies are in the business of shaping and meeting customer demands.  If marketing cooked starches as pet foods is no longer as profitable as mincing up raw meats and bones, they will change their product line.

Consumers will be seduced into buying branded, minced rmb, instead of less expensive and far-superior raw-meaty-bones.  But 80% of the battle will be won, if starchy foods are simply replaced in pets' diets with raw animal proteins and fats.  The next pet-food frontier will be how to keep your pet's teeth clean and mouth healthy with raw-meaty-bones that you buy at the meat counter, for less money than minced goop.  One cannot be too impatient to see the Quiet Revolution take place.  It's happening slowly.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Epigen, the First Starch-Free Kibble

For the past decade, the Wysong Corporation has been working to invent a process by which to manufacture starch-free kibble.  Remember that lots of starches are required to extrude kibble from machines and to have kibble hold its shape. Wysong says it has invented a process to manufacture kibble without starches.  This could be a revolution in dry pet foods.

Dr. Wysong says repeatedly, in his 100 Truths About Pet Food, that starchy pet foods are not only inappropriate for carnivorous cats and dogs, these starchy foods are the cause of pets' chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancers, digestive, kidney, and liver disorders.  Pet owners are told not to feed kibbles and canned mush exclusively, and certainly not to feed the same starchy food daily for years.

To his credit, Dr. Wysong advocates feeding pets raw-meaty-bones.  He laments that not many pet owners will go to the trouble to buy, store, and feed raw meats and bones.   When I have queried the company about their advocacy of raw meats and meaty bones for pets, and their sales of starchy, dry pet foods, their reply is that very few pet owners are educated enough to feed rmb.  They blame veterinarians and giant pet -food companies for deceiving the public about what pets need to eat.

As second best to raw- meaty-bones, Dr. Wysong recommends raw-dehydrated meats.  Last year, the company launched an aggressive campaign to promote their raw-dehydrated foods, which do not require refrigeration.  Not many pet owners can afford to feed a lot of Archetype dehydrated meats at $10.00/ lb. My dogs love raw-dehydrated Dream Treats, which not only taste good but are great food.  Wysong also produces a line of canned meats -- all chicken, beef, or venison, with added minerals and vitamins,-- but these products are cooked and mushy.  They do not clean pets' teeth.  Wysong raw and all-meat products are far better nutrition for pets than other commercial pet foods, but they do not make a dent in worldwide kibble sales.

To his discredit, for 30 years Dr.Wysong has produced, and continues to sell, starchy kibbles for cats and dogs.  Dr.Wysong says his educational program,  to get pet owners to feed more raw meats and bones, is funded by sales of conventional pet foods (which is rather like a drug pusher justifying his sales of illegal drugs by saying he uses them to fund drug rehab programs).

Next month Wysong will launch Epigen , a starch-free dry, bagged, kibble.  Epigen will be made available to distributors in June.  I have not seen the list of ingredients or the price, but they say it is 60% protein (more than 60% meats and organs) and 30% fat.  It will be marketed for both dogs and cats (and ferrets, I suppose).  Free samples will be distributed widely. Do request a sample.

Take a minute to look at the previews and videos.  Look at what Wysong is saying about the terrible health effects of feeding a monotonous diet of starchy pet foods and the benefits of feeding diets pets evolved to eat.  Their educational message is congruent with raw-meaty-bones, even if their corporate practices are not -- yet.

The test of Dr. Wysong's sincerity will be if the company retires its own starchy pet foods in favor of their established line of dehydrated raw meats and Epigen.  He is correct that educating most pet owners to feed fresh raw meats and meaty bones is slow progress, because the convenience of having a pet food that can be stored without freezing or refrigeration will always be more appealing than fresh foods, as long as pet owners are duped by vets and pet-food companies into thinking starchy kibbles are good foods for their pets.

Wysong is helping to unseat conventional kibbles by slamming their high-starch content and offering an equally convenient way to feed better food.  It will be interesting to see how Epigen does in the marketplace.  Price will be an issue for many pet owners.  If Epigen is priced above premium kibbles, sales will be limited.  If Epigen's price is comparable to premium kibbles, they have an opportunity to blow away the competition.  I  don't know yet what the price will be.

I see this attack on conventional, high-starch diets as helping advance the cause of raw-meaty-bones.  Dr. Lonsdale does not agree.  I think the small raw-minced-meat providers are also chipping away at the giant pet-food companies' markets.  They know this is happening, which is why they are trying to market their cooked starches as "meaty" and "natural" and "fresh'.  Albeit, Epigen and minced raw products are less than half-way toward feeding pets the diet they evolved to eat -- whole prey -- they do offer more appropriate nutrition than starchy kibbles and canned mush.  Keeping pets' mouths healthy with meaty bones is not addressed by these products, however.  Pets need raw-meaty-bones.

In the next decade, I expect global pet-food companies to revise radically their pet food products, as pet owners wise up to the high starch/ chronic diseases connection.  The enormous financial cost of pets' illnesses,  and the pain and suffering endured by pets, should be laid firmly at the doorsteps of Mars, Nestle-Purina, Colgate-Palmolive (Hill's) and their veterinary co-conspirators.  To avoid such nasty confrontations, I predict they will evolve their products toward less starch, without taking responsibility, of course, for the enormous damages they have caused.

If Wysong and other small companies can make the connection in pet owners' minds between starchy foods and chronic pet illnesses, the global pet food companies can either fight back, with solid backing from brain-washed veterinarians, and claim fraudulent healthiness for their high-starch diets, or they can change their foods.   What do you think will happen?  And what will veterinarians say about their "100% complete and balanced" support of cooked starches for carnivorous pets?

CATS: Largely Ignored in Raw Feeding

I know this message will annoy passionate cat advocates, but 90% of discussions about pet feeding and raw-meaty-bones concerns dogs.   Cats are seldom mentioned.  Irony is dogs are less severely affected by inappropriate, starchy, commercial pet-food diets than cats are.

Even veterinarians and pet-food companies acknowledge that cats are "obligate carnivores", while dogs are called "opportunistic carnivores".  The distinction between "obligate" and "opportunistic" is important.  Cats MUST have animal proteins and fats in their diets to develop well and live healthy lives.  Dogs need diets that consist primarily of animal proteins and fats, but they can digest and use more carbohydrates as food than cats can.

One interpretation of cat-neglect in rmb discussions is that outdoor cats catch enough mice and birds to supplement their own diets.  Domestic cats are highly effective predators.  Even if their owners are misled into providing dry starches as cat food, free-ranging cats can fend for themselves, as they have for tens of thousands of years.  Indoor cats, however, are captives of their owners' misguided feeding,

A less favorable interpretation of cat-neglect is that pet owners do not know that cats can live for more than 20 years on natural diets.  Pet owners are told that 15-year-old cats are seniors who can be expected to die any minute.  The fact that many teen-age cats have serious chronic diseases, caused by inappropriate diets, has come to seem normal.  Indeed, aging cats' with diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic renal failure have become the norm.

Domestic cats are close relatives of desert cats.  Desert animals evolved in water-scarce areas.  Desert cats do not have access to copious water supplies. Prey provide a large percentage of fluids in wild cats' diets. Domestic cats often do not drink enough water to compensate for a diet of dry kibble, and they become chronically dehydrated.  Canned, water-laden foods are not as damaging to cats' health as dry foods are, but veterinarians recommend and sell tons of commercial dry food for cats.  Dry foods are convenient for owners but deadly for cats.

Discussions of cats bring back painful memories of my own Burmese cats, from 30 years ago.  I didn't know that feeding dry cat chow was deadly.  One beautiful male died of urinary tract stones, and a couple of others were put on special diets to address other digestive disorders.  I look back in shame and dismay that my lovely cats suffered and died from my ignorance.

Today I have a beautiful Maine coon cat, just 18 months old, who has been fed raw-meaty-bones from early kittenhood.  Daisy eats her rmb with Ben the Papillon and three Poodle puppies -- away from bigger dogs.  She chews chicken legs, beef cheek meat, and loves heart and liver.  I don't worry about Daisy getting a feline-appropriate diet.

Pet owners can buy meats and meaty bones at affordable prices though co-operatives in many parts of the country, including our Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op.  Although Kona Raw gets orders for hundreds of pounds of  meat per week, virtually none of it is ordered for cats.  I asked members if they have cats and if they feed them raw.

Perhaps, half of the members have cats as well as dogs, and a few feed cats some rmb, but not exclusively.  Several members said their outdoor cats are accomplished mousers, so they don't feel they have to feed them rmb.  Others report their cats are so fixed on a specific food, they will not even try raw meats.  I send these owners to Tom Lonsdale's web site to read his advice on switching cats' diets to rmb.

Experts generally advise owners of pedigreed cats to keep them indoors for safety reasons.  These poor cats, and other urban cats, are captives of their owners' feeding practices.  When veterinarians tell these owners to feed "a complete and balanced" commercial food, I hope they will remember that cats are "obligate carnivores", which means their natural diet is raw meats and meaty bones, not cooked grains with artificial nutrients sprayed on..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pet Diet Books is awash in books that advise pet owners on how to feed dogs and cats. Advice varies from apologias for commercial pet foods to home-cookbooks to guides on how to feed a balanced diet of raw meaty bones.

Books that promote commercial kibbles and canned mush are often written by veterinarians who are employed by, or supported by, pet-food companies. The rationale for commercial pet foods depends on mis-classifying dogs as omnivores that can be fed grains and vegetables, instead of meats and meaty bones. Commercial dog food advertise they are "complete and balanced" nutrition for your pet.  Actually, commercial pet foods are cooked grains with manufactured nutrients to try to simulate real food.  Relying on manufactured "food" to keep your pets healthy is the same as relying on processed cereals to supply all the nutrients your children need. 

Cats are acknowledged as "obligate carnivores" (that is, they must have a meat-based diet), but clever pet-food nutritionists have concocted "foods" from grains and isolated nutrients that are sprayed on cooked starches.Dry cat foods have more proteins than dog foods, but they are far from a healthy diet for cats.

Believing in commercial pet foods is the same as believing that Twinkies, sprayed with synthetic vitamins and minerals, would be a good diet for your children. A moments' thought will tell you this can't be true.

Actually, giant, global food companies commit dietary atrocities throughout the food chain -- feed for herbivore cattle contains rendered meat meals to promote rapid weight gain, and pet foods are based on grains that carnivores did not evolve to digest. These inappropriate diets effectively and profitably dispose of global companies' food wastes, at a high health cost to animals that are fed inappropriate diets.

Feeding food animals a wrong-diet has short-term consequences for the animals, because they will be slaughtered in 12 to 18 months. Food animals would be far healthier for people to eat if they had been grass-fed and free-range, but giving food animals their appropriate diet in a natural environment is less profitable than crowding them in disease-ridden feed lots and darkened chicken factories and stuffing them with unnatural foods. 

Feeding pets a wrong-diet has bad health consequences for the 10 to 20 years of pets' lifetimes. Imagine being fed the same wrong-diet daily for 15 years. Make no mistake: Commercial pet foods damage pets' health and are simply atrocious.

Books that advise owners to feed the BARF diet (Biologically Available Raw Food, or Bones and Raw Foods, or vomit, as you wish) promote an omnivore diet for carnivorous pets. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian veterinarian, is founder of the widespread BARF diet.   He promotes raw-feeding, including meaty bones and his own line of pet foods.   BARF meals contain minced meats, cooked grains and vegetables, and ground bone. He recommends feeding raw meats and meaty bones, but in minced forms that do not keep pets mouths free of periodontal disease.

Hundreds of thousands of pet owners -- probably millions -- subscribe to the BARF diet. Feeding pets the same kind of diet people eat "makes sense" to pet owners who do not know their pet companions are not omnivores like themselves. In my opinion, BARF is a step above commercial dog-food junk. Dogs get better nutrition from more digestible ingredients, but BARF falls far short of being the best diet for carnivorous dogs.

I fed a home-made BARF diet of cooked brown rice, minced veggies, and raw eggs and meats to my dogs for several years. The dogs also had raw meaty bones to keep their teeth clean.  When I fed kibble, my dogs had allergies, ear problems and joint issues. The BARF diet removed the grains that caused the dogs' allergies, so it proved to be a better diet for them than commercially fabricated junk.

Cats pose a special problem for BARFers, because cats clearly don't need to eat grains or vegetables and are harmed by their inclusion in a feline diet.   BARFers do not talk much about cats. The Honest Kitchen, which markets dehydrated meat-and-vegetable BARF foods for dogs has a big problem with feline diets. Cats just don't fit the BARF profile.  Dogs don't fit the BARF profile either, but dogs can subsist on a "starvation" diet better than cats can.

Books that promote raw-meaty-bones take a stand on the carnivorous nature of dogs, cats, and ferrets. Pets are carnivores that require a different diet from their owners. Dogs and cats today are most often considered family members. Many pet owners want to feed pets the same, or similar, diet that they eat. How can 4-legged family members require a different diet?

RMB tells pet owners not to feed grains and vegetables except as occasional leftovers. Pets' diets must be based on the whole prey that they evolved to eat, or its convenient form -- raw meats, and raw meaty bones. Feeding rmb is actually quite easy, but it takes a change in mind-set to adopt it.  If owners understand the evolution of wolves/dogs and wild cats, they are more likely to feel comfortable with the rmb diet. 

What do wolves and wild cats eat?  Whole prey is the well-understood reply.  What should domestic wolves and cats eat?  The answer is obvious and easy to implement, once pet-food company and veterinary propaganda is dismissed. 

Pet owners are bombarded with conflicting advice on how to feed their pets.  A survey of books on pet diets indicates that a few offer good advice on feeding pets raw-meaty-bones.   Some present rmb as an option but no better than kibble or BARF foods.  Informed pet owners can see the commercial venality and mis-information behind that advice. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

False Assumptions, Bad Advice About Pet Food

Marion Nestle is a human nutritionist, who endorses fresh, whole foods for people and criticizes processed junk foods.  Her advice to people is to eat less and to eat a wide variety of minimally processed foods.
Her advice to pet owners is much less healthy and helpful.   For this book, Nestle teamed up with Malden Nesheim, a veterinary nutritionist by training.  He seems to have lead Nestle woefully astray.  They endorse starchy kibbles and canned mush as pet food – the commercial pet foods that cause rampant periodontal disease, stress pets’ immune systems, and leave them victims of myriad chronic diseases.   It is puzzling that an advocate of fresh whole foods for people would not make similar, species-appropriate recommendations for their pets.
The vast misinformation in this book is based on a false assumption: That dogs, like humans, are omnivores.  No references are provided to support this erroneous belief, because there aren’t any.  All the scholarship of the last 10 years shows that dogs are carnivores. 
To back up their false assumption, they assert that dogs’ intestinal track is long like human omnivores.  This is factually incorrect.  Both dogs’ and cats’ small intestines are 2.5 times as long as their bodies.  Humans’ small intestines are 10 times as long as their height.  Long intestines digest vegetables and cereals slowly and well.  Carnivores’ short and highly acidic intestinal tracks digest meats and bones fast and pass remaining matter out as poop – great piles of malodorous poop from grain-fed dogs and cats.
The authors assert that dogs “descended” recently (in evolutionary time) from wolves.  They fail to acknowledge that dogs are currently classified as a sub-species of wolf.  Dogs are wolves, not a separate species.  They fail to cite the last decade of genetic research that demonstrates the wolf-identity of domestic dogs.  Despite the many human-designed changes in dogs’ sizes and shapes, their digestive and immune systems are species wolf. 
As we all know, wolves are carnivores, whose natural diet consists of whole prey.  Dogs’/wolves’ natural diet is whole prey, as demonstrated repeatedly in studies of feral dogs  Domestic canines, that are abandoned and live in wild packs all over the world, prey on small animals.  Feral dogs never graze in fields of corn or eat vegetables or garbage, unless no animal prey is available.  Dogs and wolves evolved to eat raw meats and bones, not grains and vegetables.   Wolves/dogs do not cook their meat and meaty bones.  Cooking alters the nutritional value of foods and causes bones to splinter.  Raw bones do not splinter.   Dogs and wolves evolved to eat whole prey -- or its convenient form, raw-meaty-bones.
In times of famine, wolves and dogs can subsist briefly on carbohydrates, a convenient fact the authors use to endorse cooked grains and vegetable diets for domestic carnivores.  Most pet owners do not aim to feed their beloved pets a starvation diet.  If pet owners were told the truth about carnivorous pets, many would choose to feed their pets raw meats and meaty bones.  The authors’ false assumption about the very nature of dogs renders their dietary advice misleading at best. 
Cats do not fare much better than dogs in this book.  Although the authors realize that cats are carnivores, that in the wild feed entirely on whole prey, they accept the pet-food industry line that cats can be fed on grains and artificial nutrients.  That carnivorous cats can subsist on a totally inappropriate diet of cooked grains and vegetables is a view endorsed by veterinarians, whose livelihood depends materially on pet-food sales.  Cats fed high-carbohydrate diets often develop urinary tract stones, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and other chronic disorders from stressed digestive and immune systems. 
One interesting chapter is an attack on corruption in veterinary training, nutritional research, and practice.   Global pet-food companies, notably Mars, Nestle-Purina, Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Del Monte, fund and control small animal nutrition in the veterinary profession.  By supporting student training, providing employees to teach nutrition courses, funding “nutrition research”, and contributing substantial income to practicing vets, these giant food companies buy veterinary endorsement of their junk foods that do irreparable harm to pets’ health. 
Nestle and Nesheim call for reform of the veterinary profession and establishment of independent teaching, research, and practice.  Unlike medicine, there seems to be little concern among veterinary schools or professional associations about undue commercial influence on their profession.  Whereas revelations of drug-company influence on medical education, research, and practice provoked some reforms in medicine, little unrest is evidenced among vets, who know how dependent they are on pet-food company largesse.

The authors' recognition that nutritional information about pets is tightly controlled by pet-food companies, to their enormous profit, does not jar them sufficiently to reject the lies they were fed about appropriate diets for dogs and cats.  For scholars, who cite many references to trivial details, their blindness to their most basic (and false) assumption about pets' digestive systems is startling.  
Although the authors conclude that home-cooked and raw diets can be safe and nutritionally appropriate, they do not favor species-appropriate diets over commercial junk foods.   Neither dogs nor cats can safely eat cooked starches daily year in and year out.  The authors express faith in AAFCO’s brief feeding trials on a few animals to endorse feeding a monotonous, commercial diet for pets’ lifetimes.  Six months of feeding a concocted diet to 8 animals, 2 of which may die during the feeding trial, support an AAFCO recommendation of “complete and balanced” food for pets’ lifetimes.  How illogical and unscientific is that?
 In a few chapters, Nestle’s familiar theme of diet variety is voiced.  Variety of foods assures people’s nutritional needs are met.  Variety of meats and meaty bones, and occasional leftovers, also assures that pets’ nutritional needs are met.    I agree that variety of foods is both healthy and pleasant for both people and pets, with one major caveat:  Dogs and cats are not omnivores.  They do not need a variety of grains and vegetables in their diet, as humans do.
Two other Nestle themes are safety and the interconnectedness of human and animal food supplies.   On these topics, Nestle is an expert with valuable and disturbing information.  Her earlier book on pet food safety reviewed the massive 2007 pet food recall for deliberate melamine adulteration.  The same contaminated wheat gluten was fed to farmed fish and poultry intended for US human consumption and put into baby formula in China, with disastrous results.  She points to frequent recalls of both human and pet foods for dangerous contamination and the FDA’s inability to prevent or respond effectively to safety issues in the food supply. 
Most of the later book deals with pet diets, however.  This is a deeply disappointing book.  I admire Marion Nestle’s approach to human food.  She was badly misled about the diet carnivorous pets need to thrive. One wonders if the authors are otherwise motivated to keep the peace with food-industry giants, the same global companies that make pet foods from human food wastes?  Both authors are professors of nutrition at universities.  Their careers are based on food.  Global food production, processing, and distribution are controlled by the same companies that make pet foods.  Getting on the wrong side of Mars and Nestle (the company) by rejecting their junk pet foods is probably not a wise career move.  Truth is another matter.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is Packaged Pet Food FOOD?

Are extruded kibbles and canned pet foods really FOOD?  To determine whether kibbles and canned mush are FOOD, depends on how one defines FOOD.

Most nutritionists believe that food is a simple sum of it's ingredients or known nutrients.  That perspective was roundly rejected by Michael Pollan in his book, In Defense of Food.  For Pollan and other whole-food advocates, FOOD is biologically impossible to replicate in a laboratory or manufacturing plant.  Many important constituents of real FOOD are currently unknown, and the complex interplay of  elements in real FOOD adds up to more than the sum of known parts.

For me, an old-fashioned grandmother, a definition of  FOOD begins with where and how it grows. FOOD is what grows in croplands and in green pastures.  FOOD is plants and animals in their unprocessed states.  FOOD is alive, or recently so.  Humans cook some FOOD to make it safer and more digestible.  Carnivores do not cook their FOOD to make it safer or more digestible -- it comes safe and digestible on the hoof. 

FOOD is not manufactured mixtures of ingredients or nutrients that are supposed to add up to adequate nutriiton, -- a constantly changing set of criteria.   What nutritionist believed was adequate nutrition in 1980 or 1990 has been revised and rewitten many times. A big problem with processed human and pet foods is they are based on what is know at that time about nutritional requirements of the species for which they are intended.  What is believed to be complete nutrition in one decade changes to the next and will change again by 2020.

People are advised to eat a variety of foods -- mostly fresh FOODS -- to cover all their nutritional needs.  Pet owners, on the other hand, are advised to feed only one kind of food for the lifetime of the pet.  Pet-food manufacturers are allowed to say their products are AFFCO-approved as a sole source of nutrition for the lifetimes of dogs and cats.  This statement is absurd on its face and very damaging to pets, whose owners depend on government agencies to protect their own and their pet's health.

Actually, most pet foods are not tested on animals to see if they sustain life or kill pets.  A few are tested for up to 6 months on 8 dogs or 8 cats.  Based on that brief trial, in which 2 animals are allowed to die, the food is declared to provide adequate nutrition for pets' 10- to 20-year lifetimes.  What is not wrong with this picture?

FOOD, for me, is not cococtions of 99 ingredients, half of them synthesized  from chemicals in a manufacturing plant.  Pet foods are.  

Can pet-food bags and cans be classified as FOOD?  Rarely.  Most kibbles and canned mush have many highly-processed ingredients and preservatives that extend shelf-life but may harm pets.  Reading the labels on most pet foods is not only (deliberately) confusing, but the list of ingredients contains many chemical compounds that are unfamiliar to nearly all buyers.  I challenge you to explain to me what is in a bag of Purina dog chow or Iams premium whatever.

A few canned pet foods, such as Wysong's all-meat line can be considered FOOD -- cooked, but FOOD nonetheless.  Also, dehydrated meats and vegetables, although processed, are essentially raw meats and vegetables with moisture removed and some biological preservatives added.  Not as good as unprocessed FOOD, but falls under my definition of FOOD.

 FOOD for dogs and cats is meat and meaty bones.  Carnivores eat meat, not cereals or raw vegetables.  Human omnivores can eat a variety of meats, vegetables and grains for complete nutrition.  We don't need to know -- indeed no one knows -- which edibles contribute what to a complete diet.  We just need to eat a variety of FOODS.

Similarly, carnivorous dogs get complete nutiriton from a variety of  muscle and organ meats and meaty bones, with occasional additions of cooked vegetables or green tripe.  For cats, forget the vegetables -- they get along best on just raw-meaty-bones.  Neither cats nor dogs need to eat grains, which are major ingredients in commercial cat and dog foods. Cats are sickened more quickly by grain-based diets, which kill dogs more slowly.

No, commercial pet foods are not FOOD by my definition or by defintions offered by whole-food advocates.  When it is so easy to feed pets real FOOD, why rob them of the benefits of the diet they evolved to eat?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Passionate Advocacy for Raw-Meaty-Bones

Every now and again, I receive a letter that makes me realize how passionately people feel about their pets' well-being and how grateful they are to have found a source of raw-meaty-bones they can afford to feed beloved pets.

Quite by chance, a fellow called me to see if one of my dogs could offer stud service for his yellow Labrador retriever.  From wandering around the Aloha Labradors web site, he found a link to the Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op.  Here is his letter:
Dear Sandra,

Certainly enjoyed our informative chat yesterday re breeding our precious yellow lab. Haven't seen any new spotting since "onset" Friday, so it was probably a false start, and she won't have her season until her old usual time in the fall. When will your yellow stud arrive?

Would like to feed her optimally to prepare ....

Thank God for Sandra and her Raw Co-op. I've been struggling with the processed raw dog food [no raw meaty bones] market in CA for years with mixed success. You've started a revolution in pet nutrition. 

The same concept could certainly fly on the Mainland in spite of Big Agri & Big Pharma. Best of luck in spreading the good tidings. I'll do my best to help pass the word, as I strongly believe a raw, living foods diet is also optimal for human health.

CHEERS,   Dave
Now that's a letter to warm one's dark moments.  Of course, credit goes to Tom Lonsdale, DVM, who has struggled for 20 years to spread the word about appropriate foods for carnivorous pets -- the raw-meaty-bones diet.  His goals are not just to feed pets better but to expose the evil conspiracy between pet-food companies and those who serve their financial interests -- veterinarians and so-called animal welfare groups.

The financial power of global food processors, who dominate both human and pet-food processing (and you know who they are), distorts veterinary training and supports vet practices.  Gobs of pet-food money are also spent to keep animal welfare advocates quiet about the damage commercial pet-food diets wreak on the health of carnivorous pets.

Dr. Lonsdale wants scientific recognition of his cybernetic theory about carnivores and ecological balance.  In today's world, it is difficult to recognize the natural balance of herbivore prey (such as deer, elk, moose) and  predators (such as wolves, lions, hyenas) that existed throughout evolution.  His theory focuses on the role of periodontal disease in curbing predator populations and maintaining ecological balance.  Most ecologists focus on food supplies and competition for resources.  To read more about cybernetics and predator/prey relations, look at his book, Raw Meaty Bones, available on his web site.

It is encouraging to know that compete strangers flock to the idea and practicality of a raw-meaty-bones co-op.  Wes is working on the Oahu co-op.  He has many dozens (one fears, hundreds) of potential co-op members just waiting for him to set up shop.  Oahu could probably have 5 or 10 viable co-ops set up in local areas, if only SOMEONE would volunteer to organize them.   Meanwhile, Kona Raw thrives on weekly deliveries of 300 to 400 pounds of meat and meaty bones in little Kona.  Welcome All!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Defending FOOD

Food is what grows in gardens and grassy pastures.  Food is biologically alive, or recently so.  It is amazing that food companies can advertise their dead, manufactured concoctions as food, and people eat it and feed it to their pets.

I just read  Michael Pollan's, In Defense of Food.  He offers good advice for feeding yourself and, indirectly, your pets.  Rules are simple:
  1. Don't eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food. 
  2. Avoid products that contain ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable, (c) more than five in number, and (d) contain high-fructose corn syrup.  This rule eliminates all processed "foods".
  3. Avoid food products that make health claims; they are guaranteed to be less healthy than fresh produce and meats that make no health claims.
  4. Shop the peripheries of supermarkets, where the produce, dairy and meat coolers are.  Stay out of the middle aisles where processed foods are shelved.
  5. Get out of supermarkets and into farmers' markets whenever possible.
  6. Eat mostly plant leaves, not seeds.  Corn, wheat, and soy make up most processed foods -- all seeds -- that make you fat and hungry.
  7. Eat less, savor food more, and make eating meals social-cultural events, not solitary, rushed, eat-till-it's-gone episodes in a day filled with snacks and sodas.
Pollan's excellent advice is to avoid the Western processed food diet that is making millions of people sick and to return to more traditional diets of fresh, local foods you prepare and serve yourself.

THE SAME ADVICE APPLIES TO PET FOODS.  Here's a rendering of Pollan's food advice for pets:
  1. Don't feed anything that your grandmother would not have fed her pets (which was raw meaty bones and table scraps).
  2. Avoid pet foods that contain ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable, (c) more than five in number, and (d) contain high-fructose corn syrup.  This rule eliminates all manufactured pet foods.
  3. Avoid pet-food products that make health claims; they are guaranteed to be less healthy than fresh meats and meaty bones that make no health claims.
  4. Shop the peripheries of supermarkets, where the meat coolers are.  Stay out of the middle aisles where processed pet-foods are shelved.
  5. Get out of supermarkets and into meat wholesalers and raw-pet-food co-ops whenever possible.
  6. Feed mostly meats and bones, not seeds.  Corn, wheat, and soy make up most processed pet foods -- all seeds -- that make pets fat and hungry.
  7. Feed once a day, help your pet savor food more by giving him large-enough chunks of raw-meaty-bones to chew and gnaw, and  do not provide bowls filled with junk foods for him to snack on all day.
Serious critics of our food supply, such as Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, are unanimous in condemning processed foods that distort eating habits, create an epidemic of obesity and the chronic diseases that ensue from overweight, such as diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney disorders.  Food manufacturers and fast food chains are sickening and killing millions of people worldwide.  Similarly, pet food manufacturers (same companies) are sickening and killing millions of pets with processed nutrients they call food.

How did this very sad state of affairs happen?  To get the whole story, read Pollan's In Defense of Food and Nestle's Food Politics.  First, quantity over quality of food became the US Government's priority after World War II.  Starvation could be eliminated if farmers could produce enough calories.  Grains and seeds (soy) became the staple US agricultural crops to feed a hungry world.   Today, the same government-subsidized, staple crops are making people around the world  fat and malnourished.

Second, nutritional pseudoscience claimed to know all the essential nutrients that people need to ingest to be healthy.  Nutritionists speak of nutrients, not food.   The list of "essential nutrients" changed many times over decades of this nonsense, as new "essentials" were found and some were eliminated as harmful.  Nutritionists worked closely with manufacturers to add nutrients to cheap processed grains to simulate food.  Pollan reviews the dismal history and arrogant failures of "nutritionism" and processed "food".

Third, food is more than the sum of its nutrients (including many yet to be defined or simulated).   Food is biologically alive.  Foods, such as vegetables and meats, act on our bodies in far more complex ways than nutritionists can find in studies of isolated nutrients.  People do not need to know how isolated nutrients affect their bodies.  They need only to eat a variety of fresh foods to supply themselves with all essential nutrients.

As I said in an earlier blog. animal flesh and bones cannot be replicated in a laboratory.  Many of their constituents are unknown, and the complex whole of living matter is impossible to replicate  The living mystery of flesh and bones makes manufacturing healthy pet foods from isolated "nutrients" impossible.  But pet owners do not need to know the nutritional constituents of  meat and bones.  They need only to feed their pets a variety of meats and meaty bones to assure proper nutrition.

Many voices are being raised today to defend FOOD against nutritionists and processed food manufacturers, whose advice and products are responsible for enormous health-care costs in the overweight and malnourished human population.  Obesity brings with it huge increases in chronic health disorders.  Pets' situation is identical.  Processed grains fed to carnivorous cats and dogs are making pets fat and sick, incurring enormous vet bills for their owners, and causing huge, unnecessary suffering for pets. 

So, raise your voice for Raw-Meaty-Bones -- the only FOOD for carnivorous pets!