Does "Organic" Mean Healthy?

There is little question that organic farming practices are more sustainable, more humane, decrease adverse environmental impact and create cleaner and more nutritious ingredients. For the past 30 years, Wysong has promoted the value of organic agriculture through education and use of such practices and products. To the degree it is possible, based upon supply and economic feasibility, Wysong incorporates organic ingredients into both its human and animal foods. But it is not a singularly highlighted focus of Wysong products or education and here’s why -

Unfortunately, once profit becomes attached to a concept and that concept falls victim to marketing and advertising, the original value of the idea can become lost or distorted. Examples include "natural," "no preservatives," "low fat," "sugar free" and the many other slogans outlined in various Wysong pet health articles. Now "organic" gets to join the unfortunate list of slogans that are being used to lead consumers toward purchases, not health.

To not be misled, the consumer must keep health central in focus. Organic in and of itself does not make health, it merely might contribute as one factor among many to that end. In fact, organic combined with other unhealthy factors could mean disease, not health. For example, organic soybeans, rice, wheat, flax or any grain eaten raw has the potential to kill due to the anti-nutritional elements of grains and legumes in their raw state. Cooked organic grains fed to pet carnivores or people as a predominant part of the diet can be detrimental to health as well since cooking creates toxins, and grains are not what carnivores and omnivores are genetically adapted to. (See Dr. Wysong’s, Truth About Pet Foods book.) The point is that organic can be more toxic than the chemicals they are intended to eliminate if other health factors are not taken into consideration.

But consumers – even well intentioned and health motivated ones – too often look for the simple and easy way in a cluttered marketplace. Confusion is understandable given the glut of brands flooding the shelves of stores. Attaching to one simple concept like "organic" is the easy way. Responding to simplistic slogans like "organic pet food " without a consideration of the other important factors required to create health is a serious mistake.

Since organic ingredients are expensive and difficult to find (and there are not enough of these ingredients to feed the pet population even if they were all taken away from the human supply chain), many producers attempt to create the illusion of organic without actually doing it. Sadly – as discussed in the Pet Food Ingredient Game – consumers are all too willing to be buffaloed and believe they can get something for nothing.

For example, organic meats can cost as much as $10-$15 per pound at the meat counter. Yet consumers apparently think pet food manufacturers are magicians and can create an organic pet food for around a dollar a pound. That means the producer buys the organic meat, transports it to the factory, mixes it with other ingredients, processes, dries, packages, palletizes, pays employees and ships to distributors. The distributor has to buy it for 25-50 cents per pound because he has to warehouse it, ship it to stores and pay employees. The store will buy it from the distributor for 50-75 cents per pound, pay for advertising, staff and a hefty mortgage. This does not count all the marketing costs which must be built into the product and which can exceed all the other costs combined. So add all this up and please explain to yourself how you are getting a truly "organic" pet food for a dollar or two a pound.

Although there are now regulations as to what can be said on labels based upon what elements in the food are organic, that does not prevent marketing shenanigans. It is always easier to say something than to do it. For example, producers may claim that they have organic ingredients (one has an officious looking starburst on the front of the package stating "organic inside"), but that can be said in truth if only one molecule in the pet food package is organic.

Thus we now have a wave of "organic" pet foods positioning themselves as the solution to pet health and pet nutrition. The problem is all of these products are predominantly grains (much cheaper than meats) and all of them are cooked. These two pet food features (organic or not) destroy health, not create it. There is not a shred of evidence that feeding such organic foods to pets in the form of so-called "100% complete and balanced" diets does anything more to contribute to health than their non-organic counterparts. On the other hand, there is a lot that proves such pet feeding practices are the direct cause of a host of cruel, crippling and deadly chronic degenerative diseases in pets ... the very thing health conscious consumers are trying to spare their pets from. It is an incredible tragedy.

If health is the goal, here is the intelligent way to achieve that. Feed a variety of foods. Any food – organic or not – can create sensitivities, allergies and toxicities if fed exclusively. Also remember this principle: the dose makes the poison. Even water and oxygen are poisonous in sufficient doses. Organic pet foods can be poisonous if cooked, grain-based and fed exclusively. On the other hand, non-organic (which does not necessarily mean they are laden with chemicals or chemicals in sufficient dose to cause a problem) foods can greatly contribute to health if not fed exclusively. Incorporate raw pet foods that fit the genetic expectation of pets as a part of the feeding cycle. Choose products from a producer that knows the science and practice of feeding for health, not just a marketing firm with slogans and sound bites. (See Comparing Pet Foods Based Upon What Matters). Buy organic meats and vegetables from the grocer and feed them periodically. Learn the Wysong variable pet feeding program and the many raw, processed pet food and cat and dog supplement options provided by our 30 years of research. Yes, this is a little more involved than pouring a food out of a bag meal after meal, but your pet and his/her health will very much appreciate the effort. (Listen to the Master Key to Health CD by Dr. Wysong and explore the wonderful pet health and nutrition educational materials available throughout our Wysong Learn section.)

Always remember, the most important organic ingredient your companion animal needs for optimal pet health is your informed mind.