Saturday, February 06, 2010

Of Dog Food, Human Food and such

We had a moment of truth, an opportunity, last winter. Our longtime dog, Chester, who we've had since he was six weeks old and who has never lived anywhere but our block, had trouble walking one icy morning. It looked like a harbinger of a long decline. We took him to the vet to see if he'd had a stroke or something. Looming was a conversation that neither of us wanted to have, the one where we have to decide to spend a lot of money or to have him put down.

It turned out that he was fine, just old. A friend told Laurie that her dog had gone through the same thing and found help through Dr. Linda Faris. She is a veteranarian, and an accupuncturist.

 Her other recommendation was to start feeding him Urban Wolf, which we bought at Brookside Barkery. In my years at Whole Foods, we had sold the ground chicken necks and backs to customers for years but I had been skeptical of them. There was something of the Flat Earther about the raw diet. I gave it a try or rather had my dogs try it.

It was an instant success with them. As I prepared the first batch, they watched with great interest. Both Chester and our other dog, Mocha got a great deal more efficient in eating. Chester began waking us up, hungry at 6:30 every morning rather than laying about in his bed until 8:30. Their meal time took about 45 seconds max after eating. Also reduced was their weight. Chester went from 77 pounds to 61 pounds. Mocha went from 80 pounds to 62.

The villain, in this piece, was corn. Anyone who has read Michael Pollan's recent food writing will be familiar with the nefarious grain, grass, whatever. The fine documentary, King Corn, puts the origin of this back to Earl Butz. Corn is so heavily subsidized that we have to put it in everything. We feed it to cows. We brew it up to run our cars. We put it in dog food. The last use was killing our dogs. They were fattened up by it, just as cattle are but not getting the nutrients they needed so they were hungry all the time and overeating, just as we have been.

About this same time, I heard about The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell, or it became part of our curriculum at Whole Foods. The nascent Healthy Eating Initiative was coming together, so, being the company man that I am, I read it and Laurie read it. It's a profoundly life-changing book. Following that I've read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and the Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn.

Being a Foodie, it's hard to accept that "Everything You Know Is Wrong". Olive oil is as much empty calories as white sugar and white flour. It's going another step further than we had been. We've had some intense discussions at the store among the team members and it's just begun.

Nevertheless, I am enjoying the changes in my life. I turned 50 this past year and I want to be as strong or stronger than I've ever been. I've failed to be as disciplined in my eating as I've forced my dogs to be but I've reconsidered my  relationship to food and I'm going to get back to the body I once had when I was running 50 miles a week.

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