I'm not sure if you know I write in other places. For the most part it doesn't apply, so I don't bring it up. I write a weekly food column for the El Paso County and Fountain Valley News. My boss likes to call me the food editor, but I think that sounds like more work than I'm willing to do, so I go by columnist.
This week's column applied to the blog, enough anyway, that I thought I would share. Here's what I sent in, unedited, so go ahead and blame the messenger.
Food for Our Table 2-3-14
Low Carb Hounds
By Janet Huntington
Around 11,000 years ago, somewhere in Eurasia, an upwardly mobile portion of the wolf population decided to become dogs.
These wolves might have been smart enough to know morphing into dogs was the best plan for world domination – the current worldwide wolf population stands at about 200,000 compared to 500,000,000 dogs. Personally, I feel a small group of slacker wolves discovered eating human garbage and hanging by a campfire on a cold winter night was much easier than working for a living.
The dogs soon learned, if they helped humans hunt, played with their children instead of eating them and guarded camp against pillagers and predators, their two-legged benefactors provided them with all the bones and offal they could eat. Once dogs realized Paleolithic man was all about cute and cuddly, they changed a little more, developing floppy ears, curly tails, spots and baby faces.
Everybody got along just fine, but good old Homo sapiens couldn’t be happy, and about 7,500 years ago ran in droves to be part of the latest fad, the Neolithic Revolution. All of the cool kids started farming and everybody who was anybody began eating grains. Dogs were more than willing to do whatever it took to avoid hanging out on the tundra with the wolves again.
Evolutionary geneticist Erik Axelsson from Uppsala University in Sweden found dogs, determined to maintain their garbage eating privileges, geared up their digestive tract to handle rice and potatoes, something wolves still can’t do.
Dogs went the extra mile and developed a protein, called maltase, seen in herbivores and omnivores, but not in any other mammal. This gave them the ability to digest not just Bugs Bunny, but his carrots too.
Once we humans decided to settle down and farm, we could take time off to think. Thinking led to boredom, which led to thinking up stuff to do, or Science. Our loyal garbage disposals had maintained their ability to change into whatever their best friend man wanted. Being human, we not only noticed, but also decided to take charge of this unique ability. Being lazy, we began thinking of ways to get dogs to do our chores.
Before long we had mastiffs guarding our homes, terriers killing our rats, collies herding our flocks and pointers finding our game. The poor dogs must have been confused, they had domesticated so they could eat garbage and sleep by a fire, not work their paws to the bone.
It was too late to go back, not only had their dietary needs changed from sick mastodon to oatmeal, but now, there were collars and tags. There would be no sneaking back into the wild. The jingle of those tags let wolves know the dogs were coming from miles away. Dogs, it seemed, were screwed. The wolves must have been laughing like a bunch of hyenas.
In the 1850’s the human power trip derived from molding the way dogs thought and worked went into overdrive. We had discovered our little canine friends were as moldable as Sculpey. Within a few generations we could make them long, short, smash in their faces, make them grow hair or be completely naked. What fun! Some called it breeding, others eugenics, but semantics aside, we had discovered something to do when we were bored. We called it a dog show.
Dog shows came at a time when the descendants of the Neolithic farmer had more time on their hands then they knew what to do with. The Neolithic Revolution had given way to the Industrial Revolution. Even dogs drew the line at working assembly lines, so humankind took the lessons they had learned from subjugating their dogs to doing the same to each other. The key was for a few, skinny weak guys to give a few more burly angry guys a little power, in turn, they convinced everyone else the key to survival, happiness and entrance through the pearly gates, was mindless, dangerous, fifteen hour work days, substandard pay and no healthcare. It was the rise of the middle class.
Dog shows were just the ticket to promote class distinction. The rules were stringent, and only about the physical features of the dog. To win, your dog had to be the fluffiest, the barkiest, the weirdest looking and the most useless. As long as there was limitless time, funds, staff and no moral dilemma with drowning puppies that didn’t make the grade, a dog’s shape could change in a few generations. The rewards were a bit of ribbon and bragging rights.
Everybody had dogs, and anybody could own a purebred dog, as long as they had some money. Purebred dogs were replacing the working dog and becoming symbols of success for the middle class. If your dog was a blue blood, then you must be too, right?
This had to have made dogs nervous. No longer necessary, but only for show, with the evolution of trash pickup, the dog was in danger of becoming passé. Being the survivors they are, our dogs took the next step up the evolutionary scale. They became adorable.
Dogs looked deep into our eyes, snuggled better than a damp baby in a fluffy towel and loved us unconditionally. Dogs became our best friend. Because of the different breeds, they lived anywhere we could. They didn’t cheat and they didn’t lie. Lassie and Rin Tin Tin saved a few lives and clinched the deal. Dogs became part of our family.
Dogs have never had it so good. They sleep in our beds, have their own parks, trainers and psychiatrists. We give them birthday parties, devote television shows to their well-being and provide for them in our wills. They have become our companions, our furkids, and our children. If it wasn’t all about to come to a sad and tragic end, it would be the dog’s finest hour.
It’s the humans fault, of course. We just can’t stop one-upping each other. Where we used to compete by owning the oddest shaped dog, now we compete by rescuing strays and feeding them the most expensive diet. No longer do our dogs eat our trash, shoot, they don’t even get our leftovers. They live on food especially made for them and it’s expensive. The food we design for them correlates with our latest diet trends.
Current standards have us feeding them like the wolf, or at least like a Ciliac patient. Dry dog food has meat, meat by products, meat juice and meat dust as the first ingredients. Gluten-free is the way to go. Wheat and corn are considered no-no’s and we have even come up with a raw food diet, to bring our babies back to their wolfie roots.
This must have our dogs in a state of panic. How many generations will it take before our dogs lose the ability to eat starch? Dogs can adapt with a vengeance, but might not be able to overcome being turned back into meat eaters. Will our little Maltese be packing up her Gucci crate and heading out to live with her lupine relatives?
I think it’s time to re-evaluate how we’re feeding our dogs. Let them eat leftovers, take them to Taco Bell for a Mexi-pizza. Let them eat white flour and old socks. They’ve worked hard for their place in our lives and it’s time to quit messing with it.
Gluten Free Homemade Dog Food
1 lb. choice of meat, chicken or fish etc...(ground works best)
3/4 C gluten free grain (rice, quinoa, oats etc...)
2 C chopped veggies (sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, beets)
1 tsp. rosemary
1 garlic clove
1/2 to 1 C bone broth or water
Place choice of meat, grain, rosemary, garlic and broth or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes.
Add the chopped up veggies and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until soft.
Remove from heat and cool.
Store in the refrigerator.
Raw Dog Food
2 lb. ground turkey
3/4 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. bone meal
1 Tbsp. fenugreek
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves, use less if dried
1/4 C marigold petals
1 C roughly chopped parsley leaves
2 apples, or 8 ounces fruit, no grapes or raisins, roughly chopped
1 squash, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 C broccoli florets
1 C dandelion greens
1/2 lb. haddock, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/4 lb. beef heart, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/4 lb. liver, chopped into 1-inch squares
1 lb. kidney, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/4 lb. gizzards, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/4 lb. beef fat, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/2 C olive oil
4 cloves pressed garlic
1/2 C dried organic seaweed, soaked and strained to remove the salt
2 C chicken or beef stock, optional
Put ground turkey and beef into a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl combine bone meal, fenugreek, rosemary, marigold petals, and parsley, and mix well. Combine with the meat mixture.
Use a food processor to grate apples, squash, and carrots. Add broccoli florets and dandelion greens and mix well.
Add to the meat mixture.
Combine haddock, beef heart, liver, kidney, gizzards, and beef fat and mix well. Add to the meat mixture. Combine eggs, olive oil, pressed garlic, and seaweed and mix well. Add to the meat mixture and thoroughly mix all the ingredients with your hands.
Recipe can be made ahead and stored frozen in 1 week-sized containers.
Or you can go buy a bag of dog food.