Organic Pet Food

Organic Pet Food

With new organic pet products hitting the shelves daily, we are left with a lot of questions. Today, we’re going to answer some of them for you.

With new organic pet products hitting the shelves daily, we are left with a lot of questions. Today, we’re going to answer some of them for you.

Defining “Organic”

First things first, we’re answering one of the most common questions about organic foods: “What does ‘organic’ actually mean?” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) defines it as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

Simply put: organic foods do not use pesticides, synthetic ingredients, Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, or radiation. Animals must be free of hormones and antibiotics, have access to the outside, and be fed organic feed that’s free of animal byproducts.

How Are Organic Foods Labeled?

There are different levels of labeling for organic foods. For human foods we have:

  • “100% Organic”: This means that all the products and ingredients that went into the food are organic. These products will have a USDA organic seal.
  • “Organic”: This means that at least 95% of the products and ingredients that went into making the product are organic. These products will also have a USDA organic seal.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients”: This indicates that at least 70% of the products and ingredients used are organic. These products will not have a USDA organic seal.
  • “Contains Organic Ingredients”: These products were made of less than 70% organic products and ingredients. These products will not have a USDA organic seal.

For pets, labeling of organic foods isn’t as straight forward. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “there are no official rules governing the labeling of organic foods for pets at this time.” On the other hand, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that food and treats labeled “organic” must comply with the USDA’s NOP regulations. All pet foods that display the USDA seal for organic foods must be at least 95% organic.

You may also find special organic labels from Oregon Tilth and The Organic Crop Improvement Association. These organizations work alongside the USDA to label and uphold standards of organic farming. Since they are required to follow the USDA standards of labeling, you can trust products with these labels.

Are Organic Products More Expensive?

Expensive is a relative term when it comes to health. Yes, organic products will be more expensive up-front. However, since you will be feeding less of it (because the food lacks fillers and is therefore more nutrient dense) you also won’t be buying the same amount of it. You will also be spending less in vet bills because you will be feeding a nutritious diet that supports good immunity.

Is It Necessary to Buy Organic Pet Food?

While it is not necessary to buy organic pet food, it is important to understand manufacturing procedures and quality. We recommend buying foods that are manufactured to meet the European Union standard, since they uphold a stricter standard than that of AAFCO. The European Union has strict guidelines that must be followed regarding GMO labeling and the use of the word “natural” whereas AAFCO does not.

Why Can’t You Get Some Products Organic?

Not all foods can be purchased organic because organic standards don’t exist for all foods. For example, there is no organic standard for fish because of the ever-changing environment of oceans and inland lakes. Additionally, environmentalists believe that farm-raised fish live in contaminated conditions due to the lack of space they have. So, even those fish can’t be considered organic.

What Should I Look For in an Organic Food?

When buying organic foods, it is important to look for the organic seals, which indicate that the food is at least 95% organic. It is also important to see which ingredients in the product are organic. Some ingredients can be affected more by pesticides and GMOs than others. So it’s important to ensure that those types of ingredients in a food are organic.

A great place to start weeding through which ingredients are more important to purchase organically than others is with the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.” The image below shows what produce should be bought organic because of the high amount of pesticides used (the “Dirty Dozen”) and the produce that it is okay to get conventionally grown because of the low amount of pesticides used (the “Clean 15”).

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Organic Food and GMOs

Another reason why it’s important to buy organic food is to keep GMOs out of you and your pet’s systems. Here’s a little bit more information about GMOs and why we say steer clear of them:

What are GMOs?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) are defined as any organism whose genetic material has been altered or whose DNA has undergone gene insertion. GMOs were introduced to make crops resistant to pesticides, harsh weather, and other factors to produce a higher yield of crops every season.

How were GMOs Introduced?

The idea for man-made DNA came from a grad student at Stanford in 1973. In 1975, a council of biologists, doctors, and lawyers got together to make guidelines for the safe use of genetically-engineered DNA. It wasn’t until 1994 that the first product with GMOs was sold in grocery stores (the “Flavr Savr” tomato). By 1999, over 100 million acres worldwide were planted with GMO crops. In 2013, the US. alone had over 169 million acres planted with GMO crops!

Why are GMO’s bad?

GMOs are bad for nature and our own health.

They are destroying nature by:

  • Killing off honeybees, which are responsible for every fourth bite of our food.
  • Depleting the nutrition found in the soil.
  • Decreasing nutrition found in foods.
  • Destroying the farming ancestry.

They are hurting human and animal health by:

  • Causing gut dysbiosis.
  • Increasing likelihood of cancer.
  • Creating antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms.
  • Increasing allergies.
  • Disrupting and mutating DNA.
  • Negatively affecting embryo development.
  • Causing stomach lesions.
  • Slowing growth

How do we avoid GMO foods?

If you want to avoid consuming GMOs yourself, you can purchase products that are locally grown from sustainable farms, grow your own crops, or purchase products that you know are GMO-free. For your pets, avoiding GMOs means avoiding foods that have corn and soy in them (since they are more likely to be genetically modified), purchasing pet foods that contain free-range and/or grass-fed meats (to ensure that the livestock has not been fed a diet of GMO feed), and supporting small companies that do not try to hide ingredients and are willing to answer consumer questions. Here at The Pet Beastro we have several options that offer GMO-free foods for our pets. The foods that we offer are free of corn and soy which are the main culprits of GMO crops.

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