By Tom Spina
Dogs have always been considered Man’s (and Woman’s!) best friend. No matter their size, color, or breed, they offer companionship and friendship and ask nothing in return.
When you consider how much love and joy those sweet pups bring into our lives, it’s only natural that you’d want to care for them in the best ways possible, whether this means buying the highest quality toys or ensuring they get as much playtime as they can handle.
Since food plays a major role in their health, you may also seek out what you consider to be the healthiest dog food option. However, there are many things to think about when choosing a dog food brand; in our environmentally-conscious era, it’s not just the lack of pesticides and all-natural quality of the ingredients that matter, although many brands emblazon buzzwords like organic or sustainably-sourced on their packaging in a bid to convince buyers they are the safest and healthiest choice. Let’s chow down on the truth behind just what those words mean — and the impact each have on our delicate environment.
The term organic is frightfully deceptive. Though the general public has come to associate it with green, healthy products that are as good for the land as they are for us, that isn’t always the case. There are strict rules and regulations set in place by our government that ensure organic food really is organic — that is, free of conventional chemical pesticides, hormones, and that it follows organic practices from production to shipping. This guarantees that the food itself is much more nutritious and less harmful than its non-organic neighbors.
However, nowhere does the federal government state that organic farmers must follow eco-friendly practices. Since sustainability is closer to a philosophy describing planet-protective actions able to be continued indefinitely — without causing damage to the environment — the difference is significant. Although it cannot be directly measured and controlled in a way that organic production can, the effects of sustainable farming are positive and far-reaching. This includes practices like owning less land and growing more diverse crops to help enhance the soil and conserve land resources; using reclaimed water for some crops; relying on wind or solar energy to power your farm; or using upcycled materials in your packaging.
Sustainability At Work
Organic pet food may be free of harmful chemicals, but they can still have a negative influence on our environment. Locally-sourced, sustainable foods, however, can cut down on waste across the spectrum. Take Jake Dickson who started packaging his own dog food because he noticed the sheer amount of meat waste occurring at his Chelsea Market Shop; combined with other market veggies, he packs the scrap meats up in neat containers and sells to around 100 customers a week.
“For us, it’s all about 100 percent utilization of the animal,” Dickson stated. “If we’re going to slaughter it, we want to use every part.”
At Cota Farms in Ohio, Dennis Adams and his wife do the same thing. Rather than discard the organic meat and offal that his customers were uninterested in, he started grinding it up and selling it as raw dog food at the local markets.
These entrepreneurs show how easy it is to make organic farming sustainable. The next time you’re at your local pet store, pay good and close attention to the labels; when you bring home healthy, sustainably-sourced dog food for your furry best friend, you’ll know that you helped support our environment as well as Fido’s health.
Tom Spina is the President of Luminer, a leading international label printer and converter for the chemical, pharmaceutical, beauty and food & beverage industries, based in Lakewood, New Jersey.