Food for Thought

Pondering the benefits of commercial pet food
By Lisa Wogan, June 2010, Updated June 2021

When New York Times columnist Jane E. Brody wanted the truth about feeding our dogs and cats, she turned to Bark contributing editors Malden Nesheim, PhD, and Marion Nestle, PhD, who provided details about pet food that Bark regulars know well—such as, higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

But they also presented a bit of a paradigm shift, for me, regarding the $18-billion-a-year commercial pet food industry. After years of bad press resulting from catastrophic pet food recalls and ongoing questions about pet food safety, I’m used to thinking the worst about the industry. But here’s a tidbit on which to chew:

Because all pet food is made from the byproducts of human food production, Dr. Nestle says, "the pet food industry serves an important ecological function by using up food that would otherwise be thrown out."

And proponents of home-prepared foods—many motivated by nutritional and safety concernsshould consider this: "If everyone cooked human food for the 472 million cats and dogs in America, it would be like feeding an additional 42 million people."

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of several books including Dog Park Wisdom.