Why do we use organic ingredients in our pet foods?
Why do we manufacture certified organic pet foods?
Two reasons: first, organic ingredients are healthier for your pet; second, organic farming practices are sustainable and help to protect the environment. Organic ingredients contain little or no pesticide or herbicide residues, but they do contain significantly greater amounts of nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants, when compared with their conventional counterparts.
USDA organic certification, through an independent third-party, assures that organic ingredients are used as claimed, and that these ingredients are treated according to the standards of the National Organic Program (NOP). These standards prohibit the use of toxic chemicals (e.g., pesticides, fungicides, sewage sludge, etc.), many of which are routinely used in conventional food manufacture.
USDA Organic certification is only granted to manufacturers that comply with NOP standards and agree to annual on-site inspections and continuous monitoring of all records, including the source and organic status of all ingredients used. Organic certification is also only applicable if a product contains at least 95% organic ingredients.
Onesta Organics pet food products contain nearly 100% USDA certified organic ingredients. We only use conventional (non-certified organic) ingredients (i.e., calcium carbonate as a preservative) when organic versions are not available. In any case, 100% of our ingredients are certified GMO-free. Unlike conventional, or non-USDA certified organic pet foods, USDA certified organic pet foods never contain GMO ingredients. The GMO-free status of USDA certified organic pet food products is strictly enforced by the USDA and its accredited organic certifying agencies.
The NOP prohibits use of conventional (non-USDA certified organic) ingredients when USDA certified organic versions are available. This means that a USDA certified organic pet food product can never contain more than 5% conventional ingredients. The types of non-certified organic ingredients that are permitted in certified organic pet food products are determined by the NOP.
The use of the term organic is often abused by food manufacturers. However, since the unjustified use of the terms certified organic or USDA certified organic is punishable by law, these terms are almost never abused for marketing purposes. p>
Some pet food manufacturers claim that their non-certified organic products are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, or hormones. However, if their products are not certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agency, this means that none of these claims have been verified by an independent third party. Therefore, such uncorroborated claims, which are made by a number of companies, may or may not be true. In contrast, USDA organic certification absolutely prohibits the use of GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics, whether in ingredients used during production or in the final stages of manufacture of pet food products. Under these circumstances, compliance with regulations for organic status is strictly enforced by a USDA-accredited organic certifying agency. So, when a product is labeled USDA certified organic and carries the USDA organic seal, consumers can rest assured that this product is free of GMOs, hormones, or antibiotics.
How do you know a product is really certified organic?
The USDA organic seal and the name of a certifying agency are always provided on packaging and promotional materials by legitimate organic pet food manufacturers.
If (certified) organic pet foods are so much healthier, why wouldn't all pet foods be organic? All pet food companies claim to have our pets' best interest at heart.
Since certified organic ingredients are more expensive. Using them decreases profit - You spend more money making the organic pet food and sell less of it. Fortunately, more consumers become aware of this simple formula and support certified organic pet food manufacturers.
Why does Onesta Organics use human grade ingredients?
Why does Onesta Organics use raw food dehydration?
Quite simply, we use human grade ingredients to ensure that our pet food products are of the highest possible quality. We are not sure why food would be grown or processed at lower standards (as non-human grade ingredients are).
We use gentle dehydration at raw food temperatures to preserve nutrients and avoid high heat conditions (common in baking, cooking, and extrusion production techniques) which can destroy enzymes, denature proteins, and break down many beneficial nutrients. Please read a summary of a few research studies that show how nutrients are affected by heat on our Raw Food Page.
Note that some dehydrated pet foods are made with dry ingredients that have previously been cooked. Be also aware of the fact that pet foods can be dehydrated at a wide range of temperatures (technically speaking, baking is a way of dehydration); some companies actually market their products as 'raw' (and dehydrated and human grade) even though they use cooked meats, eggs and fish as ingredients. We disclose the exact low temperatures we use for the dehydration of our pet foods to a USDA-accredited organic certification agent and can assure the public (without giving away too many free bees to some of our very attentive competitors that are used to borrow phrases from our public records for their own purposes - you see, sometimes it is easier to write than to do :-)) that we don't exceed raw food temperatures.
If low (raw food) temperature dehydrated pet foods are healthier, why wouldn't all companies use these techniques to prepare their dry pet foods?
This is a matter of profit. The higher the dehydration temperature, the faster you can sell the food, the more you can make, and the more food you can sell. Please note also that some 'dehydrated raw' pet foods contain ingredients that have been previously cooked.
Why does Onesta Organics use whole food-based ingredients?
Does Onesta Organics use Chinese ingredients?
We use whole food-based ingredients instead of isolated food fragments (such as refined ingredients, gluten, etc.) in our pet food products to avoid the potential health problems (e.g., obesity, diabetes, allergies, etc.) associated with fragmentary processed ingredients. You can find more information about this topic our blog.
No. Although it is sometimes hard to find ingredients that are grown right here in California or at least on the same continent, we do not use the much cheaper ingredients from China. For example we wash, grind and dehydrate our locally grown carrots instead of using a dried powder which would, amazingly, be much cheaper but of a quality (e.g., what was the dehydration temperature? How old is this powder?) we cannot vouch for.
What meats does Onesta Organics use?
We use exclusively meats from human-grade, certified organic and pasture raised (free-range) animals. This assures that animals used for our pet food products have a quality of life instead of being treated like lifeless objects. The fact that these animals are certified organic, guarantees that our products are free of antibiotics, hormones, toxins and even drugs (such as those that are present in the sewage sludge used to fertilize conventionally grown feed crops), or GMOs (it has been show that synthetic genes that are inserted into crops can be found in the bodies of animals which eat these crops and that their presence in tissues modifies cell activities).
Why does Onesta Organics manufacture vegan treats for dogs?
Although dogs are carnivores, they need not eat exclusively animal-based products. Wild dogs enjoy a wide variety of food sources, including vegetables, fruits, as well as certain grasses and their seeds. The commonly held opinion that plant foods are of no nutritional value to dogs has been closely scrutinized by animal nutritionists and found to be questionable.
Animals raised for food are often treated inhumanely and fed with inferior feeds which results in overall poor quality meat products that negatively impact the health of consumers, both pets and humans alike. Just consider both the amounts of hormones and preventive antibiotics being administered regularly to farm animals in overcrowded feed lots and the stress hormones being released into the bodies of these unfortunate animals. Taking a colder, more pragmatic, perspective, raising these animals requires more resources and releases more toxins into the environment than simply growing plant-based foods.
So, while we would not strongly advocate a purely vegan diet for dogs (although there have been instances of dogs doing well on such diets), we do believe that a good diet for these pets should include vegetables, fruits, and even some grasses, as well as USDA certified organic meats from humanely raised animals.
What does the number behind the 'Lot' on our product packages stand for?
This number represents the manufacturing date. Although our raw pet foods products won't obviously spoil if left out on the counter for up to a year, these products will stay freshest if they are stored at lower temperatures and away from light and moisture. These general rules of storage apply to all natural food products because nutrients stay alive longer under these conditions. Since our raw meat-based products also don't contain preservatives, we strongly recommend you store these pet foods tightly sealed in the refrigerator or freezer.
Something few consumers know: The supplemented synthetic vitamins used in 'balanced' or 'complete' diets have a shelf life of 3-6 months (shelf life starts from the time of manufacture of these vitamins, not from the time you bring the food home). Therefore, we recommend you store any dry pet food containing such supplements appropriately (read more on proper storage of pet foods on our blog article Shelf Life of pet foods.
And this leads us to the next question:
Why don't we make 'balanced' or 'complete' diets for cats, dogs, and other pets?
Because this would require us to use synthetic nutrients to reach most of the AAFCO-recommended nutrient levels. These isolated and synthetic vitamins and minerals
a) often don't perform as their natural food-based counterparts,
b) have limited shelf life,
c) are often contaminated with chemical synthesis residues,
d) are mostly manufactured in China, a country that lost global credibility in regards to manufacturing safety and oversight especially in regards to food and pet foods.
We think that pet guardians are much better off making their pets' foods at home from quality ingredients—such as our whole food products, and using processes that provide living nutrition to their pet.
Check out our Feeding Suggestions.
If you have any further questions, please contact us via email