If you’re new to the concept of raw feeding, you’ve undoubtedly seen some frequently used ‘raw feeder’ terms and words that may not always be used consistently or accurately. The overuse of buzz terms can dilute a once powerful message by creating reader immunity or confusion, so the following is intended to inject life back into some important raw feeder terminology.
Let’s start with ‘biologically appropriate’, ‘species appropriate’ and ‘bioavailability’. Biologically appropriate simply means that which Nature intended for a specific biological makeup, or species. Biologically appropriate and species appropriate are used interchangeably and have the same meaning. Biologically appropriate food has high nutrient bioavailability. At a very high level, bioavailability refers to the proportion of a nutrient that is absorbed from the diet and used for physiological function. Nutrient bioavailability of a food is governed by both internal and external factors. Internal factors are specific to that which consumes, or eats, the food; for example, a dog. A dog’s internal factors are dynamic and specific to its state of physiological function at the time of eating; including age, health or disease status, and current life cycle (heat cycle, pregnancy, whelping, etc.). These internal factors impact bioavailability rate from the receiving end. A healthy young dog will have a higher bioavailability rate (greater nutrient absorption), than a sick dog with compromised physiological function. An external factor is a factor affecting the food. A vegetable that’s harvested and eaten at its nutritional peak has higher nutrient bioavailability than one prematurely harvested and left to sit for weeks before eating. The external bioavailability of all organic (whole) foods, including meats and vegetables, begins declining from the moment of harvest. Inorganic (processed) foods maintain their original low bioavailability for extended periods because they’re a) an unnatural food product b) loaded with preservatives or, c) an organic whole food processed with heat that destroys its enzymatic function (vital life force) responsible for activating the digestion of itself.
With that, for optimum nutrient absorption to occur, a biologically appropriate food with high bioavailability needs to be fed. A steak has very low bioavailability when fed to a rabbit. A rabbit has high bioavailability when fed to a dog or cat. Nature intended for dogs and cats to eat rabbits. Rabbits are intended to eat vegetation. A rabbit eating un-harvested vegetation directly from the earth is receiving a biologically appropriate food with extremely high nutrient bioavailability.
In contrast, processed kibbled pet foods containing unnatural ingredients like synthetic vitamin and mineral mixes, poor quality protein sources, or species inappropriate grains have very low external and internal bioavailability when fed to dogs and cats. The majority of any bioavailable nutrient in kibbled foods is compromised or destroyed during high heat processing. High heat processing is necessary in killing dangerous pathogens found in ingredients of questionable origin and quality. Add to that, a host of dangerous chemicals and other toxins commonly used to support long term storage (preservatives) and entice both pets (artificial flavoring) and humans (artificial coloring), and you have the perfect recipe for poor health. These widely used pet food production methods result in an unrecognizable food product with low bioavailability and high toxin content. The net result is reflected in your pet’s health as its body is continually taxed using precious energy stores for breaking down unnatural food and eliminating toxins. When toxin loads exceed the kidneys’ manageable amount for filtering, a toxin buildup begins. The physiological response to toxin build up is a release of impurities through the skin, eyes and ears. Toxin overload and food allergens are commonly visible in pets with chronic skin problems, and eye and ear discharge.
It’s impossible to have this knowledge and not be compelled to make dietary changes that can profoundly impact the lives and health of our pets and ourselves. Even the smallest of changes, if done consistently, will be reflected in what you see when you look at your beloved pet.
So the next time you read ‘Farm to Table’ and roll your eyes, remember there’s science behind this concept-turned-movement embraced by nutrition savvy ‘Tree Huggers’. And chances are they can outrun someone whose chip eating habits leave orange particulates on fingertips.