Keep it Raw and Keep it Real

I do not believe in any policy that rests on the idea that a risk of potential harm is a reason to discourage, disparage, or do away with personal freedoms and choices.

Food for thought: Ever wonder why the same companies making candy bars, canned food, lotions, and liquid detergents are also in the pet food business? Because it’s a profitable way to deal with byproducts unfit for human consumption or use. Nothing wrong with that, right? Waste not, want not. Pet food regulation falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA, but there is no pre-market monitoring, only a general requirement the food be “safe,” and ingredients have “an appropriate function.” Sadly, unsanitary industry practices are known to frequently contaminate the food, with salmonella,  toxic mold, or choking hazards. Further, some ingredients including ash, carbohydrates and GMOs, while meeting the FDA’s standards, have been found to be associated with health problems in animals. For these and other reasons, a growing number of pet owners are turning to a raw diet for their furry friends.

The opening quote is a portion of the comment I attached to a petition signature expressing my disagreement with an upcoming vote by the American Veterinary Medical Association to adopt an official position against raw diets. If you’re interested in the issue, here’s some info directly from the horse’s mouth, and from opponents. It is not my intent with this post to convert you to a raw diet fanatic. Nor do I unrealistically think a majority of pet owners will shun commercial pet food in favor of grinding and serving raw meat in their homes. It’s true the AVMA has no authority to police their preferences, however, they do play a part in a web of influence that could challenge the exercise of freedom of choice of pet owners. Herein lies the intrigue because of its subtle way of attacking individual freedom.

And so we get to the meat of it–Freedom of choice. Sure, you’ll probably never see an FDA regulation, “Thou Shalt Feed Kibble,” but statutes and codes are not the only way to skinny a cat. If the field of “acceptable” choices are narrowed, and vets are discouraged even more than they are now at a professional level to shun options other than commercial food, that’s detrimental to a pet owner’s freedom of choice and ultimately bad for public and pet health.

This is a shrinking freedom issue. It’s Newspeak or “Sameness.” It is an official endorsement of decreased access to information with the effect of shrinking choices to the point of null. Sure, choices can still be made, but without access to reliable information about what the choices are, accompanied by a campaign against all but one option, there is less likelihood people will (a) know there’s a choice, (b) know how to exercise their freedom of choice in an educated way, and (c) feel confident enough to make the choice in the face of “official” and societal disagreement.  It leads to an artificial consensus, self-perpetuated and thus very powerful, and creates the very monster it claims to try to slay (in this case, public health concerns). This situation is antithetical to Freedom.

To illustrate, one could think of this as akin to the vaccine debate. Due to polarized policies and beliefs it is impossible to throw a stone pro or con without hitting a fanatic when trying to educate oneself on this  issue. The problem is exacerbated when trained professionals marginalize the issue when asked about it by patients, clients or the media, due likely to biased education and official policies of their trusted institutions. Currently, many doctors refuse to treat children who are not vaccinated on the recommended schedule, schools send misleading letters to parents saying their children must be vaccinated to attend, there have been increasing reports of parents being reported to child protective services based on their decisions not to vaccinate.  It is to the point where one hesitates to even ask questions for fear of being labeled an unfit parent or a lunatic. All of this, regardless of the fact that no state requires vaccination without exception (in other words, parents have the right to choose whether to vaccinate), and the federally endorsed “Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children” is just that–a recommendation, not a requirement of the law.

And so, while the AVMA policy, if adopted, will not have teeth of its own, it does not mean the organization does not have real influence over those that do have the ability to bite, or to feed you a line you’re expected to swallow with no questions asked.

Eternal vigilance, Friends.


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