Many foods today contain toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones and chemical additives that have been linked to serious health issues in people and animals. To minimize this toxic assault, I feed my family, including my four-legged son, Chase, as many organic foods as possible.
Let’s take a look at why “going organic” may make sense for your canine or feline companion.
“Natural” versus “Organic”
Many people confuse “natural” foods with “organic” foods, believing the two terms are interchangeable. However, there is no legal definition or regulation of “natural” in human or pet food, so manufacturers can use this claim without following a specific standard. As a result, “natural” may have more to do with marketing than with the purity of the ingredients.
Definition of “Organic”
Unlike “natural”, “organic” is legally defined and strictly regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program, so foods labeled as “organic” must meet specific standards.
By law, USDA Organic products cannot contain:
- Toxic or synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
- Chemical additives, such as artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones (in food production animals).
- Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs (crops that have had their DNA artificially modified in a laboratory to obtain certain attributes, such as resistance to insects or herbicides).
- Sewage sludge.
- Synthetic fertilizers.
Benefits of Organic Food for Pets
The benefits of feeding your dog or cat organic foods are less about what they will get and more about what they won’t get – toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health issues, including neurological diseases, developmental disorders, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and cancer. Modern dogs and cats are exposed to multiple toxins on a daily basis, from vaccines and topical flea and tick products to home and lawn chemicals. I believe that food should nourish the body, not pile on more chemicals and increase the toxic burden.
Deciphering “Organic” Labels
Foods for human consumption are allowed to contain four types of “organic” claims based on the amount of organic content in the product:
- “100% Organic” – All ingredients in the product must be certified organic.
- “USDA Organic” – 95% or more of the product’s ingredients must be certified organic.
- “Made With Organic Ingredients” – The product must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients.
- Ingredients Panel Listing- Products containing less than 70% certified organic content may list individual organically produced ingredients on the ingredients panel, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.
Only products containing 95% or more certified organic ingredients are allowed to display the USDA Organic seal on the label.