Years ago I had learned that my allergy-prone puppy would be better off without grains in his diet. I got used to reading the ingredients in pet food and treats. After my dog experienced occasional days of loud growling stomach and no appetite, I eliminated some imported treats. A few weeks ago my husband and I watched a documentary regarding the business of pet food processing and lack of regulation. Digestion problems, allergies and illness seem correlated or caused by modern pet diets. Most species of animals have teeth and digestion adapted to masticate and absorb only appropriate foods. We grew concerned that we had not been giving our dog “species appropriate” food. Perhaps we even contributed to the diseases and deaths of earlier pets. Suddenly I realized that dogs’ and cats’ instinct would dictate that they never go hunting for kibble.
As I thought about the implications for animals, it became much more clear to me that I have often been eating processed food items that are not “species appropriate” for humans. Food in boxes and cans and bags did not start out in their current form and may not be recognizable to my body as nourishment. I have been making changes in my diet due to health issues but I wish I had been more attuned to appropriate food much earlier in life. Cheese doodles and red licorice are a long distance from a food group.
I believe in a master Creator who has a design of best outcome for all His creatures. I was raised with an awareness of the dangers of certain food items, or that eating /drinking some things amounted to a “sin” if you knew better. The body as a “temple of God” is a responsibility and privilege (I Corinthians 6:19). Even moderation is only as good as what is on the buffet! I have also grown to appreciate that one diet regimen does not fit the unique body chemistry and needs of all people. However, the idea that people food should be in much more garden and field fresh form makes a lot of sense to me.
Months ago I created some garden boxes to try growing an assortment of vegetables and herbs so that my grandsons would know where food originates. I need to constantly remember that real food doesn’t come from extruding machines, as crackers, and snack packs. I am horrified by the long lists of chemicals and ingredients that we so readily absorb in our haste to eat or satisfy a craving.
Heated discussions can erupt about the best form of people food. Culture, religion, accessibility, finances and personal requirements guide food choices. I sometimes balk at the “expense” of food but realize that the equation often results in either money for quality food or expense related to later illness and early death. I still enjoy convenience and pulling things out of my freezer, but it should look more like real food. As I feed my pets their new “species appropriate” dinners, I look for simpler and cleaner human options also. We all want to feel well and enjoy the gift of life.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
1. What categories of food would you list for a human “species appropriate” diet?
2. What do you say when asked, “Why don’t you eat that?”
Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.
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