Beyond the Bag: Supporting Sustainable and Ethical Practices in the Pet Food Industry

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners in the US spent over $60 billion on pet products last year. A large portion of that was spent on pet food. But how much thought do you put into purchasing a bag of food for your furry companion? My first job ever was working at a pet store. I found that the majority of the people cared about two things: price and ingredients. But very few ever asked about the company they were supporting by making that purchase. With the rise in popularity of high quality pet foods we have more positive choices for our pets than ever. But what about taking it one step further?

I’m a strong believer in using your money like a vote. With almost everything you buy you’re able to cast a vote for things you believe in. By supporting companies that give back to their communities or have more sustainable/humane practices, we’re able to help those companies thrive. When our instagram following started growing we began to receive emails from companies asking us to promote their products in exchange for free goods. At first it was tempting to just say yes to all these free things. However, after putting some thought into it we realized that there was no way we would feel comfortable supporting products we didn’t believe in. So when Petcurean contacted us, we were beyond thrilled. This was a brand that I used to recommend on a daily basis when working at Bosley’s. It was also the first pet food we had purchased for Fish as a kitten. They were just launching their new line, GATHER at the time and were looking for pet influencers to help get the word out. I did a little research and was honestly so impressed by what I found.

First off, Petcurean is a family owned company based out of the Fraser Valley in our beautiful province of British Columbia. They produce food for both cats and dogs and have three core product lines: GO!, NOW FRESH, and GATHER. Each line was designed for a specific purpose which is outlined on their website. For this article I’ll be focusing on GATHER Free Acres as it’s the one that we’re currently feeding our cats, and the one designed particularly with sustainability in mind. To quote from their brochure, “GATHER helps keep your pets healthy, happy and loving life, as naturally as possible, using functional, whole food from the earth and oceans, with nothing added that’s not needed. And all the while, minimizing the footprints (and pawprints) we leave behind.”

The main thing that really stood out to me about the food was the use of organic free-run chicken. As an animal lover and vegetarian, it’s important to me to find a pet food that uses meat that was produced ethically. Cats are obligate carnivores and therefore require meat protein but that doesn’t mean I have to support inhumane practices. The chicken found in GATHER recipes comes from Miller Poultry, a family run farm in Indiana. Their chicken is USDA certified organic and they are raised in smaller flocks on Amish family farms. They’re fed an all-vegetable, antibiotic free diet with no animal bi-products. They also have access to the outdoors and three living enhancements that include things to perch on, hide behind and run through. Miller Poultry strictly adheres to the humane treatment policies defined by the Whole Foods animal welfare spokesperson, Temple Grandin. They don’t de-beak their chicks and use both male and female chickens. Miller has invested heavily in “Where Food Comes From”, a program that allows them to trace every bird to the specific farm where it was raised. And although chicken production is a water-intense process, they capture and treat all the water they use in the harvesting process, and then spray it on croplands surrounding their plant. I couldn’t be happier with the time and effort that Petcurean was willing to put into sourcing their primary protein.

GATHER’s packaging demonstrates Petcurean’s commitment to sustainability. The pet food bag uses “bio-based plastic,” which is produced from sugarcane – a renewable raw material. Using bio-based plastic allows Petcurean to reduce its use of petroleum-based resources by 30 percent – for every 16 pound bag made, the company saves the equivalent of a 4 pound bag of petroleum-based material. Additionally, Petcurean is a huge supporter of local and Canada wide animal rescues. They recently donated 3,000lbs of food to dogs and cats impacted by the Northern Manitoba fires and have hosted contests like their Uplift the Underdog Contest in which they provided a shelter dog with pet food for life. Part of our deal with them also includes donations of cat food to rescues of our choosing and thanks to them we’ve been able to help support Vokra and Okanagan Cat Coalition where we adopted Chips from a couple years ago.

I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that we consider important when choosing a pet food in hopes that maybe it will inspire you to choose a brand that cares about not only the pets who will consume it but also the planet. It may seem like a small thing but every purchase you make has an affect on the future and the push towards better products and companies that care.

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