Is Nutrition the Key to Wellness? Food for Thought
Meg Smart DVM, PhD Nutritionist WCVM Oct 3/2011
- Nutrition in food animal production is focused on optimal production and economics, not what is necessarily healthy for the animal. The family farms where livestock and crop production supported each other and a strong local rural economy are becoming obsolete. Factory farms and large cooperation are taking control of our food supply.
- Nutrition in companion animals has shifted as well.
We all want what is best for our pets. Disappearance of the small local
butcher, the family garden, humanization of our pets and rapid expansion
of the urban population, has left the
fully integrated large multinational
companies dictating to us on how to feed
our pets. Their research into the use of waste by products from their
agricultural operations and human food production and into clever marketing
strategies has proven successful.
Stepping back into the past is often necessary in order to look into the future. When, a strong local rural economy was mainstay of the community, the community had access to fresh wholesome foods.
What encouraged me to step into the past were the results from a study done in the 1920’s by a dentist, Dr. Winston Price. He studied the diets and health of indigenous people, worldwide, such as Lötschental in Switzerland, Native Americans, Polynesians, Pygmies, and Aborigines. His book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” details this series of ethnographic nutritional studies across these diverse cultures. He concluded that Western methods of commercially preparing and storing foods stripped away vitamins and minerals necessary to prevent diseases. His claims extended from physical degradation to moral degradation. Unfortunately, his book and research failed to have an impact on the direction that diets in the Western culture were headed. But can we apply his findings to our companion animals?
With urbanization all this changed, highways and subdivisions are gobbling up prime agricultural land and our pets have become the victims. They no longer have the freedom to roam, but are confined, relying totally on us for their food and exercise. The major health concerns now are obesity, cancer, dental disease, diabetes, allergies, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, internal parasite, and fleas. Many of these problems are also reflected in the human population. The American Veterinary Medical Association in response to this crisis has formed a partnership for Preventive Pet Health Care with multi-national companies that manufacture vaccines, dewormers, insecticides, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals for weight control and anxiety, and pet food: