I recently attended a cooking demonstration at Just Food For Dogs in West Hollywood. Through this experience, I learned three things:
- Kibble is gross
- It’s so easy to give your dog a fresh, healthy meal
- This company is shaping the future of dog food
A little background on the company: Just Food for Dogs was founded in Newport Beach by Shawn Buckley, who was just a regular dude with a dog. Once he found out the horrifyingly low standards set by AAFCO for what constitutes “acceptable” contents for dog food (empty peanut shells & wood chips included) he decided to make it himself. Buckley rallied a team of scientists and veterinarians to perform extensive scientific research. They set out to determine whether their theory of whole-food dog diets can really boost immunity and promote longevity. The short answer: YES! Cut to seven years later, and Just Food for Dogs now produces 30,000 lbs. of food per week. Of their 10 California storefronts, five are kitchens that manufacture the food on-site.
Dinner for Two
The cooking demonstration was hosted by two employees who laid out all the ingredients for the Beef and Russet Potato recipe. I was surprised to see that almost all the ingredients (except maybe the beef liver) were things that I’ve seen in most kitchens. The recipe included potatoes, green beans, peas, green apples, carrots, beef, and sweet potatoes. They gave me a step-by-step pamphlet to follow along with the cooking. I was beginning to think my dog could cook this meal for herself.
First, they cook the beef on a skillet. They emphasized the importance of an 80/20 meat to fat ratio. If you can get meat with this ratio, it will cook itself on the skillet without the need for added water or oil. All of the food used in their recipes is USDA grade, so you can theoretically cook dinner for yourself and your dog in one go.
They chopped the ingredients to bite-size portions, and boiled the russet potatoes separately and gave them a cold bath so they wouldn’t get too mushy before adding them in with the rest. I learned that unlike humans, who have digestive enzymes in their mouths, a dog’s digestive enzymes are in their stomach. Therefore, having the food broken down and easy to chew aids the digestive process. You can chop food as small or large as is suitable for your dog.
Once the ingredients were all chopped, the demonstrators threw them into the skillet until they were cooked to perfection. They let the attendees try the finished product, and the feedback was positive. I opted out of trying the dish (vegetarian problems; *Kanye shrug*) but those who tried it seemed to enjoy it! Normally, once the food is all cooled, they add supplements to boost the nutritional value of each meal.
I love that I walked away from this demonstration learning more than I expected about dog nutrition. Giving your dog a whole food diet makes sense. Just like humans, dogs need well-balanced nutrition to promote health and longevity. We all remember that guy who ate only McDonalds for a month and got grossly sick. That’s not much different than allowing your dog to eat the same low-quality food for months, or maybe years.
Here at Fitdog, we’ve seen a few cases of dogs getting sick from eating the same food for long periods of time. I asked the JFFD team if they had seen cases like this, and they claim they haven’t because all of their meals are specialized to include all the nutrients necessary for dogs.
Just Food For Dogs sells several different meals with an array of ingredients. They have seasonal specials and can even make specialized meals for dogs based on veterinary recommendations. When I asked what the craziest meal they had to prepare was, they told me one of their regular customers was not a dog at all, but a pig. Perhaps their next foray will be into improving the farm animal feed industry. But for now, they are improving the lives of dogs (and the occasional pig) with their no-B.S. meals.
Check out more about the company at justfoodfordogs.com!