Wednesday, 24 October 2007

ethics and the feeding of dogs

Penny eats a lot of chicken. I'm fortunate that my local butcher sells free-range chickens and will cut them into pieces for me. I've also found a company, Belmore Biodynamic Meats, that sells a variety of free-range meats.

I'm prompted to post on this topic because there was an article by Veronica Ridge in The Age Newspaper yesterday headed "Food that won't cost the Earth - a guide for the ethical eater". I thought the points made could be applied to feeding our dogs as well as ourselves.

Eat unprocessed - the more processed or refined a food is, the more energy and water is used to make it.

Choose local - the more miles a food has travelled, the more greenhouse gas it has generated.

Enbrace the season - buy what is in season in your local area.

Unpackaged food - don't buy food with high-embodied energy such as snacks with aluminium-lined packaging or individually wrapped biscuits.

Reduce waste - our throwaway culture wastes water, energy and other resources used in food production. Australians threw away $5.3 billion of food in 2004.

Eat less meat and dairy - the world slaughters about 60 billion animals a year for food.

Choose fish wisely - don't buy species that are overfished. Farmed fish are not necessarily better, because often more wild-caught fish are used to feed them.

Have a social conscience - buy products such as coffee or chocolate only if the farmers have received a fair price.

Buy organic or free-range - uses no synthetic chemicals and focuses on the health of the soil.

Consider animal welfare - intensive farming to produce milk, meat and dairy products causes suffering to animals.

Of the ten points, I think I am okay on some, but I've still got a long way to go on others.

Of course, I can ignore the coffee/choclolate one; organic and free-range I'm working on; I always avoid meats from industries that have a horrible reputation - for instance, I haven't found anyone to sell me free-range pork and I don't know if that is even possible in Australia. I try to feed raw as much as possible, and buy from a butcher rather than a supermarket, so that makes for less packaging; I juice and blend our vegetable scraps, so that cuts down on food waste.

But I'll still have to work on the other points, for the humans in the household as well as for Penny.

I'll add the link to the article here but I'm not sure how long newspaper articles stay on the site for general reading.

Likewise, the British newspaper, The Independent, has a long discussion of the ethics of feeding pets, called "Is commercial pet food ethical or even healthy?" and here is the link, but it might disappear after a while.


Johann The Dog said...

Great post! We try to follow many of these. Wonderful stuff, thanks for posting it. Woofs, Johann

parlance said...

Thanks, Johann. I thought the original article in The Age was inspirational.

Amber-Mae said...

My hoomans will try not to give us too much precessed food but sometimes it's difficult. Lamb here is very expensive. Organic foods are a bit difficult to find here & they are not cheap.

Love licks,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

Amber-Mae, that's the trouble here also. Organic foods generally cost more. I try to balance things out - some organic, some dry food (as little as possible and the healthiest I can find) and mostly raw meat with some vegetables.