Locavores Give Thanks for Dog Food that Tastes Homemade

 |  Nov 22nd 2010  |   1 Contribution


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As we count down to Thanksgiving, dog lovers have a lot to be thankful for. Awareness of pet nutrition is at its highest ever, as more and more of us realize that pets really are what they eat.

OK, so dogs don't live nearly as long as we'd like them to.But happily, more and more pet-food manufacturers are offering optionswhich ensure that what we feed our dogs willenrich and, yes,prolong their time with us. Feeding dogs awholesome, balanceddietdefinitely helps keepbeloved K9shealthier, longer.

Depending on your dog's nutritional needs, there are low glycemic diets, vegetarian diets, gluten free foods and treats, and frozen or dehydrated raw pet foods.

But hardcore locavores - that trendy "foodie" term forbasing one'sdiet on fresh, whole, locally-produced and -raised ingredients- logicallyrejectkibble and canned food (as for raw, it's controversial due to the pathogen risk). Purists about pet and humanfood,locavores have been obliged to prepare their dogs' food from scratch: Sourcing the best ingredients, then cooking and combining them,and- if they're organized about it - refrigerating and/or freezing batches to last the week.

Over the years, I've done this, and I've seen people close to me do it too. But I'll tell youa secretabout cooking for dogs, especially when you have more than two: It eats a big holeout ofyour week, and resentment builds. By the timeI wasdonecooking formy pack,I wasgenerally too exhausted to spendthe quality time withthem that they demanded! (I'm exhausted just remembering all the time I spent cooking for my dogs.)

Happily, inNew York City -where convenience is the currency ofsavvy entrepreneurs -locavores now have an easy option made just for their discerning dogs: EvermoreHearty Food for Dogs,favored by famous supermodels, actors, and authorsall overBrooklyn and Manhattan.

"Because ingredients matter more than ever," as the companybrochure explains,Evermore is made ofhuman-grade, USDA-certified, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef and chicken, plus vegetables (such as yams, carrots, andkale); theingredients are minimally processed and gently cooked, thenflash-frozenin plastic containers.

Evermore isrun by Alison Wiener and Hanna Mandelbaum, Brooklynites who bonded over their shared love of animals and sustainable food. The business partners pride themselves on sourcing highest-quality ingredients from local farms and vendors in theNortheast, and theybalance every batch according to the nutrient profilesforadult maintenance set out by the AAFCO.

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Prior to the Evermore venture, Wiener was a personal health-supportive chef ("I want everybody to eat well - dogs and people," she says) and Mandelbaum was an artist and dog trainer. Their product is sold strictly locally because, as Mandelbaum explains, "From an environmental standpoint, the cost of shipping frozen food is not OK."

Evermore's company mascot is Connor, Wiener's handsome,adopted mutt. But let's face it, this dog is paid to endorse the food. So, how do other dogs like it? For an unbiased appraisal, I turned to the toughest customer among my live-in panel of pet-food experts.

If you read this column, then you know I'm a proud connoisseur of canine poop, and no one's crap is moreholy than that of my dog Tiki, whose droppings are carefully monitored because of his notoriously sensitive digestive system. Historically, the slightest change inTiki's diet will significantly alter the consistency of his excrement and make him terribly uncomfortable.

Plus, Tiki takes a substantial, twice-daily dose of a botanical chemotherapy medicine that tastes quite bitter, so it's highly important that his food betasty enough to mask the med's flavor.Thismakesmy shaggy black dogtheultimate taste-tester for any food making big palatabilitypromises.

I'm pleased to report that Evermore delivers: It's delicious even to a finicky dog like Tiki,whoneverdetected the presence of bitter-tasting chemo med in his bowl - he wastoo busy inhaling the food to notice!

Although thebrochure recommends introducing Evermore gradually by mixing it with your dog'sprevious food brand, I approachedthe Tiki experiment as if I'djust runoutof his regular food and had to improvise. The stuff looked and smelled better even than the painstakingly prepared stuff I used tocook for my dogs! Tiki tucked into his bowl with gusto; what's more, his stools, post-Evermore, were picture-perfect.

The Evermore logo is a line drawing of two hearts - an open, loving brand mark that aptly sums up the corporate values of its two founders. Wiener and Mandelbaum take pride in their carefully-sourced ingredients and meticulously researched "complete and balanced" recipes, but they're even more proud of what doesn't gonear their product: meat meals, corn, soy, wheat, potatoes, salt, or sugar.

Evermoreis truly a labor of love, and the two women behind it aredoing the heavy lifting, so busy locavores have more time to dish out the love - without slaving over a hot stove. Amen to that.

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