You already know that you are what you eat. We are currently living in an age where we are more conscious than ever about what we put into our bodies, and by extension what our pets eat too. A quick Google search turns up dozens of organic pet food brands for a variety of species, most brands of which are relatively new to the pet food market. As pet owners want to do what’s best for their pets, more and more are turning to organic diets. These foods typically cost substantially more than typical supermarket or even mid-range fare. You may find yourself asking: is it really worth it? This article will explore the pros and cons of choosing organic food for pets, as well as how you can ensure your pet’s diet is healthy.
The exact meaning of the term “organic” is variable when it comes to both human and pet food, as there is no single overarching set of specific rules defining what is or is not organic. EU law requires that an independent awarding body must certify all foodstuffs labeled as organic. In the UK there is more than one awarding body for organic producers, each with slightly criteria for what can be considered organic.According to EU law, only food that has been made from 95%+ organic ingredients can be certified as organic. The use of genetically modified organisms or produce is forbidden in organic production, and environmentally friendly techniques are encouraged at every phase of harvesting. By the Soil Association’s definition, organic food is made without artificial fertilisers and drugs including antibiotics. Pesticides use is also extremely restricted. Animals used in the production of both organic human and pet foods must be allowed to live free range with access to the outdoors and space to move around.The terms “natural” and “holistic” are sometimes used alongside organic, but they are not interchangeable!
Organic food supporters argue that organic standards are cleaner and better for the environment than the alternative, and that organic measures protect the welfare of livestock used in the food supply. Skeptics say that the organic industry is based on false pretenses, promising unproven benefits and health advantages over industrially farmed foods. They point out that land used in organic farming yields smaller crops, and therefore cannot sustain the population at large.It’s also important to remember that most organic certification bodies do not take farm worker welfare into account.
For those concerned about the sources of the products in their pet’s food, commercial organic pet foods remove some of the mystery. Rather than being pumped full of strange additives and by-products, organic pet foods are more likely to have easy to understand, simple ingredient lists. There will be some nutritional additives in organic foods, but these should fall below 5% of the food’s total content. In mainstream foods, additives tend to rank substantially higher on the ingredient list. Here are some other claims made by organic pet food companies:
Organic pet food websites are chock full of stories and testimonials about pets whose lives were turned around after the introduction of organic food. While there is no guarantee that every pet owner will experience the same results, there’s also no harm in trying an organic food to see if it improves your pet’s quality of life.
The biggest downside to organic pet food is the price: a single serving of organic pet food may cost anywhere from 1 to 2.49 GBP, depending on the size and species of your pet. As in human food, how much healthier organic pet foods really are remains undetermined. There is a lack of scientific evidence to support many of the claims made by organic pet food companies.You may find it difficult to source organic pet foods in your local area, as they tend to be carried primarily by niche pet or health food shops. While most organic pet food retailers sell their products online, purchasing them in this way requires advance planning and may incur additional shipping fees. Additionally, the organic pet food market is still limited and small, meaning you may not find the perfect food to suit your pet’s tastes and preferences.
Organic does not necessarily mean nutritionally healthy, for more reasons than one. If your pet’s organic food contains a lot of sugars or difficult to digest ingredients, it may not be the best choice. Organic treats should still only be fed sparingly! Here are some qualities to look out for in your pet’s organic food:
You should also check which certification body has accredited each brand and visit their site to ensure their standards are what you expect.
Here are a few of the organic brands on the market today: