Taking Care of Your Pets and Your Planet

Welcome! Thanks for joining me while I attempt to unmuddy the waters of ethical shopping!  When I discovered, about a month ago, that Nestle had it’s hand in everything, from child slavery to the extinction of more than one species, I set out to find alternatives.  Our very good boys, Guthrie and Horatio, would be among the first to feel the change, since they go through food like only a pit/dalmation mix and a chihuahua can.  Pretty much the day I decided to start this journey, I realized they only had a couple days of food left, so I had to jump right in.  I started where one does these days, on Facebook.  I posted this inquiry: “My pets are running low on food, so I need to buy them some, obviously.  But all the major companies have serious issues.  What do most of you feed to your dogs?”  Easy, to the point, not very educational about the serious issues I was finding, but I wanted to get a feel for how much other people had already researched and what the majority of my friends fed their indoor pets. Several people mentioned Fromm, a company I had not heard of before, so I did a little investigating.  Right off the bat I was impressed by their website.  A chat popped up immediately with a live person, asking if I had any questions or needed help.  You don’t get that level of service with giant faceless corporations.  Their story is wonderful as well.  Immigrants in the 1800’s, built a better life for themselves and came to create the distemper vaccine.  When they outgrew their kitchens, they repurposed an abandoned mill, rather than creating a new construction.  They employ local workers and create a healthy sustainable product.  You can find out where to buy their food here, Fromm.  From a cost perspective, they are quite a bit more than Purina, even the higher end lines of Purina, but reading their ingredients and story, it very much seems like a case of getting what you pay for.  Still, if $25.99 for a bag that is smaller than your standard 17 pound bag, is out of your budget, never fear.  There are other choices.  Our dog food, which was Purina One, cost around $20 for a 17 pound bag, so I was trying to stay in that lane.

The next choice that was presented to me was Blue Buffalo.  Cost point wise, it’s a little less than Fromm, but ingredients wise you would almost be better off with the base model of Purina.  Blue Buffalo also loses points in transparency, fixing issues, and standing behind their product.  The surface examination of it was so bad that I decided not to look any further. Edit: Blue Buffalo is now owned by General Mills, and seem to have a handle on their ingredients and consumer confidence.

Several people also told me they use Rachel Ray’s Nutrish.  I have been given samples of it before at some events around town, and my dogs weren’t crazy about it. But, regardless of their personal taste, I can see where it would seem appealing.  It looks like it’s owned by Rachel Ray, has real ingredients and can be trusted to nourish your dogs. It is actually owned by JM Smucker, which is a biggish company, but overall maintains fairly high ethical standards.  The food itself gets into hot water occasionally for putting a lot of filler in rather than wholesome ingredients, but they always seem to course correct if they stray off the path.  Nutrish also scores some major points in accessibility.  You don’t have to order online or go to a specialty organic type pet store, you can just go to the grocery store and grab a bag.  That’s important to me, I don’t want to recommend only products that rely on using extra gas to acquire them.  Price wise it’s comparable to Purina, 14 pounds for $16.76.  But if you jump up to the higher end of the line, it becomes $26 for 14 pounds, and at that point, besides the convenience, you would be better off with a brand like Fromm.  Even still, it’s convenient, fairly healthy, accessible, and Smuckers is not a terrible company.  You could do a lot worse.  It appears that the conglomerate that owns Pillsbury recently bought Smucker’s, but they actually operate with very high standards, so while you are certainly not shopping small, you are supporting one of the few decent giants.  As I continue down the rabbit hole, I see that General Mills owns Pillsbury now, but again, mostly ethical company, so you are OK.  Good news for cereal lovers too, you don’t have to give up your Cheerios. Corporate takeovers are such a major roadblock to shopping ethically.  I would encourage everyone to google “who owns _________” and insert what you are curious about, it opens your eyes as to how few holding companies really have all the business.  But, that is neither here nor there with regards to your pet!  Nutrish is OK, no reason to switch if that is what you are currently using.  And if you are using a Nestle product like Purina, or are using Blue Buffalo, or IAMS, and want the convenience of a grocery store product, it’s a solid choice.

I’m sure you are all wondering what I landed on.  Well, being a completely spoiled brat, who lives 5 minutes from the best grocery store in the world, I settled on HEB branded Heritage Ranch.  It costs slightly less than Purina One, is healthy, texas made, accessible and owned by an amazing company.  The cost for Heritage Ranch is around $17 for a 17 pound bag.

Some other recommendations that came up were Rawz, Lotus Brand, Farm Fresh, and Earthborn.  They all appear to be problem free, though vary on price and accessibility, for example Earthborn runs around $52 for a 28 pound bag, which is quite a bit more than any one else.  Rawz gets a special note though, because they donate 100% of their profits to providing service dogs for Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury.

We did the same process for the cat, and landed in the same places, however, when we tried to slowly change his food, he refused to eat.  He never got “hungry enough” to eat it and get used to it, even doing a mixture of the old food and new food, so in order to keep him alive, (he is 14) we begrudgingly switched back to Purina mature cat for him.  As much as I hate to support them, it’s my job to give my cat a peaceful last chapter, and he was not up for the change!  It’s important not to lose sight of the things surrounding us while we focus on these bigger issues.  My son is mad because I won’t buy Oreos any longer, but not eating an Oreo never killed anyone! Not eating at all, would certainly have killed the amazing Rosie Cat.

Happy Shopping, you ethical warriors!  Thanks for stopping in today!

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