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Feed Your Dog, Save a Farm

By Julia Lane, June 2010, Updated June 2021

The pet food recalls over the past
few years have taught us a few things. When you buy commercial dog food, your money goes to a corporation that’s likely far away from your community. You simply have to trust that the package label doesn’t lie and what’s in there is safe for your dog to eat.

But if you buy meat, milk or eggs from your local farmer, you can stop by the farm to see for yourself if the animals are treated humanely and whether you’re purchasing a quality whole food product. Liz Cunninghame of Clark Summit Farm in Tomales, Calif. offers a monthly farm tour so visitors can see the difference. She offers natural grass-fed beef, pastured organically fed pork, organic pastured eggs, sheep, goats, Jersey cows, geese, turkeys, meat chickens and guinea hens.

“If you care how the animals are raised, find a local farmer,” says Stacy Martin, owner of Yellow Wolf Farm in Lansing, N.C. “If they’re doing what they say they’re doing, they won’t cringe when you take out your camera. Talk to them about where your food and your pet’s food comes from.” Through a small farmers’ co-op, Martin sells natural grass-fed beef, chicken, eggs and organs to raw feeders. She is now moving to a larger property to meet the increased demand for sustainable whole foods for both people and pets.

Both Cunninghame and Martin have had pet owners specifically request grass-fed beef to help a pet with illness, such as cancer, or allergies to commercial foods or meat purchased in a traditional grocery store. “Seek the best quality you can find or afford,” advises Cunninghame. “Once you switch yourself, and understand how the animal you are eating is raised, you will never go back to conventional meats for you or your pet.

To find sustainable and organic local farmers, go to

Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.