Nature is Blooming!
Sustainable growth practices, organic garden and lawn care, and healthy soils bring many benefits to you, your family and your pets. These practices also keep our environment and waterways healthy. Good, clean, healthy food begins with good, clean, healthy soil. By using natural organic fertilizers and nitrogen sources we can have more control over the food we eat at home. An organic culinary landscape is naturally resistant to disease and insect pests. It also contributes to the long-term health of the soil that feeds the food we grow and eat, while avoiding pollution from synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. An organic garden boasts much less toxic metals and nitrates, and a higher concentration of essential trace minerals in your produce.
Everywhere I look, nature is in bloom! If you’re gardening this year, whether for beautiful flowers or bountiful crops, consider planting a few seeds for the benefit of your pets.
Organic lawn care promotes faster degradation of pet waste, and reduces those unsightly yellow or brown urine spots in the grass. It can also magically slow grass growth, and reduce watering needs by up to 50%. These benefits translate to less mowing, thus fewer pollutants from lawn mower and trimmer engines. Conventional lawn chemicals can be tracked into your home on the paws of pets and the feet of people. These chemicals, in addition to being irritating to the skin, are known to promote some cancers, aggravate allergies and weaken our immune systems. With an organically grown and cared-for lawn, my four-legged friends and I can enjoy our playtime and sun-bathing on this cool green carpet, with peace of mind.
There are many educational resources and practical classes available at your local garden centers and nurseries that make learning organic food production fun and easy. From beautiful visual landscapes to culinary gardens, indoor or outdoors, in an urban city lot or balcony garden, container planting or acreage, you too can go green.
Of the many beneficial nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods in the most tempting flavors that you and pets can share this season, I recommend grasses, sprouts and vegetables.
Grasses, Sprouts + Vegetables
Edible cereal grasses are beneficial for their vital nutrients, minerals and roughage to aid in healthy digestion, as well as clean breath from the chlorophyll. Small amounts may be finely chopped and sprinkled on your pet’s food, or juiced for yourself. You should be aware that seasonally and geographically, some grasses produce more pollen then others. “Pet grass” like barley grass and wheat grass, are preferred because of their low pollen and mold spore counts. You can find a blended, organic pet grass seed at some pet food shops and garden centers.
Many seeds can be sprouted:
- Mung bean
- Red clover
Vegetable choices include fresh grated carrots, beets and zucchini as well as chopped yellow, green and red peppers. Dogs and humans alike especially love cooked spaghetti squash and other hard shell, winter varieties like pumpkin – these are also good for digestion and preventing enlarged anal glands. Try offering these foods, as well as steamed broccoli and cauliflower, green beans and peas. Cats might like some grated or minced cucumber, and of course, fresh catnip leaves. Limit raw vegetables with high oxalic acid content like spinach, swiss chard and rhubarb, as it inhibits calcium absorption. Some pets do well with white and red potatoes, but other pets have trouble digesting them – sweet potatoes and yams are an easy alternative for white and reds.
There many beneficial herbs that can add taste and variety, and possess mild medicinal qualities if added in small amounts to you and your pet’s foods:
- Blackberry leaves
Before adding herbs to your pets’ food, you should keep in mind their sensitivities and allergies, as well as understand the potency and methods of herbal medicine first. A well-known authority in herbal medicine, known as Juliette Of The Herbs (Juliette De Bairacli Levy, 1912 – 2009) wrote The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, and The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. Another wonderfully inspiring educator is Rosemary Gladstar whom you can learn about at www.sagemountain.com.
Foods possess much more than just vitamins, minerals, protein, starch and fiber. They also have thermal qualities, energetic properties, can be moistening or drying, move the body’s energy in different directions, and support different organs in various ways. Using food as medicine is a long-held tradition in many cultures. For more information on the energetics of food and Chinese Food Therapy for animals, read Four Paws Five Directions by Cheryl Schwartz, DVM.
Another great reference book for your family is Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.