News: Karen B. London
The Chinese include dog on the menu
I used to have a roommate from New Zealand and we literally had to eat breakfast separately because my peanut butter-on-toast was as nauseating to him as his vegemite-on-toast was to me. We found each other’s response to what we viewed as such ordinary food a bit amusing.
Sometimes cultural differences about food can be more serious and cause real clashes. For example, a recent news article reveals that the on-board menu for Chinese astronauts includes dog meat. Dogs are raised for their meat in Huajiang province, and many Chinese people consider this a healthy and savory meal. Some responses to the story of astronauts eating dog meat expressed the view that this is no big deal and just a matter of cultural differences and other expressed outrage at the idea of people eating dog meat.
I must say that in my cultural realm, dogs are companions only and not food, so I would not want to eat dog. The idea, for me personally, makes me very uncomfortable. However, I have eaten cow meat countless times with the full knowledge that for members of the Hindu religion, the cow is sacred and as such, is not used for meat. Furthermore, when I lived in Venezuela, I ate meat of unknown origin on several occasions when people invited me into their homes, so that I am pretty sure I’ve consumed both capybara and rat. It makes me a bit uneasy, but I went with a “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” model for my behavior in these situations, which I usually find to be the most polite course of action when I’m in another country.
Dogs mean different things to different cultures and what sounds appealing as food also varies culturally. How do you feel about Chinese astronauts eating dog? What have you eaten lately that you think someone from another culture might find revolting?
News: Guest Posts
Recipe: Quick and easy bonbons for dogs.
Are you worried your dogs feel left out every time a little goblin, sheik or princess grabs a handful of candy from your Halloween sweets bowl? They are. Don’t try explaining that candy is bad, even dangerous, for them. Instead, provide a delicious alternative.
Pet nutritionist and founder of The Honest Kitchen, Lucy Postins, has concocted an All Hallows Eve treat, made with pumpkin and beef, for our furry friends. Lucy’s Halloween BonBons are quick and easy to make, and use common ingredients found in most kitchens. ("Most kitchens" with a gluten- and grain-free focus, that is.)
The good news, says Postins, is quinoa and buckwheat are not true grains and are tolerated by many grain-allergic pets. She also points out that quinoa flour has a strong taste and aroma that most pets, but not all pets, love. If you’re cooking for a fussy pup, she suggests the buckwheat alternative.
LUCY'S HALLOWEEN BONBONS
Mix equal parts of Force and pumpkin in a bowl. Add the beef, egg and quinoa or buckwheat flour, Mix until well blended.
Shape the dough into balls and place it on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly golden on the outside, but soft in the middle.
Cool, and call in the hounds.
*You can order a sample of Force dog food directly from The Honest Kitchen.
Nothing says love like homemade gifts
Nothing says love like homemade gifts, and if we asked dogs what’s on their wish list, we bet they’d say, “Treats, please.” When it comes to wrapping those treats, think creative reuse and extend the gift potential.Here are ideas to get you started.
Mix It Up
Remember: Chocolate is off limits to dogs. Never substitute cocoa for the carob.
How to Do It
WRAP IT UP
Wellness: Healthy Living
TREAT them both right
You want to give your dog the best. You want to give your child the best, too. No one advocates feeding your child dog food. But how about giving both of them … salmon steak?
Sharing food with your dog seems radical, but it’s merely a return to the way dogs were fed for millennia. The human-animal bond developed partly because dogs and humans could eat the same foods, and the act of sharing reinforced this intimate connection.
Shared food isn’t novel compared with “dog food,” which was invented only 150 years ago when Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cake hit the market. With this biscuit, dog food distinct from human food was created. After World War I, canned horsemeat joined biscuits as dog food, and after World War II, better living through chemistry brought on the golden age of processing: kibble for dogs, TV dinners and Tang for kids.
Nowadays, few of us would feed our kids a 1950s classic like baked ham slice slathered in mustard and garnished with maraschino cherries, a triumph of color over taste. Nor would we feed our dogs a mid-century meal of Gaines-Burgers, a triumph of marketing over nutrition. Instead, we are rediscovering the benefits of unprocessed, home-prepped, whole foods for our kids and dogs.
Michael Pollan’s best-selling In Defense of Food warns us not to eat anything our great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize as food. A complementary principle applies: Don’t feed your dog anything your great-grandmother’s dog wouldn’t recognize as food. What they would both recognize is the same: simply food, not a “Food, Inc.” assemblage of processed factory ingredients.
The best food for dogs and kids is organic, whether meat, produce or whole grains. Too expensive? You can still prepare healthy, sharable meals. Look for sales in your market’s meat section. Chicken and beef can be cheaper per pound than kibble, canned food or packaged treats, and their nutritional value far exceeds that of dog food, whose first ingredients often include by-products and nutrient-poor, agricultural-grade grains. Dog food gives you less for more; shared food gives you more for less. Read unit prices!
Shared food is as fast as “fast food,” as convenient as “convenience food.” Give your kid and your dog carrots instead of potato chips and dog biscuits. Think freshness and simplicity, not complexity and trendiness. A dietary dividend: Kids are more likely to try new foods if the dog’s enjoying them.
Enrich your perspective on shared food with the TREATS system. Named for what dogs and kids both enjoy, TREATS stands for:
Taste over Image
Eat Local, Fresh, Organic
Always Flavor It Yourself
Tooth or Dare
Taste over Image: Don’t buy the succulent-looking chicken plumped with saltwater, pumped with antibiotics and fed pesticide-laced corn. Buy organic or at least “natural” chicken. It tastes better and needs no artificial enhancement.
Read Labels: The packaging depicts a cornucopia of ripe fruits and vegetables, but what’s really inside? Only the manufacturer knows for sure, but you can learn a lot by reading labels. Note the number and incomprehensibility of ingredients in processed food. A whole food has one ingredient: a banana contains banana.
Eat Organic, Seasonal, Local: Patronize a farmers’ market or farm stand. Be brave—if the First Lady can commandeer a plot of White House lawn, you can grow a victory garden. At least set up a window box and grow herbs to …
Always Flavor It Yourself: Don’t buy foods with salt or sugar added. Let your child and dog discover the real taste of food. Experiment with spices like cinnamon, ginger and anise.
Tooth or Dare: Fight dental decay and gum disease; don’t buy kid- and dog-targeted commercial foods. Children’s cereals “might as well be cookies,” says Marion Nestle in What to Eat. Give your kid and dog an apple to share. Dog food doesn’t promote dental health, and it often contains sugar (as does canine toothpaste!). In the wild, canids’ teeth stay clean through a diet consisting primarily of meat and bones. (With their wolf-like dentition, dogs are classified taxonomically as carnivores, which does not preclude opportunistically eating vegetation, including digestible vegetables.)
Sporting Life: Encourage your kid and dog to play together. Childhood and canine obesity are major health problems. An active lifestyle is as important as a healthful diet with portion control.
Here’s the real treat: When your kid and dog enjoy a shared meal, they’re celebrating the human-animal bond all over again. Bone appetit!
Yield: Approximately 32 cups, which feeds a medium-size dog for 8 days at 4 cups per day.
Yield: approximately 6 cups, which feeds a medium-sized dog for about 1.5 days at 4 cups per day.
(Use caution if your pup has not been exposed to dairy.)
Yield: 8 cups, which feeds a medium-sized dog for about 2 days at 4 cups per day.
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