The fate of the bent cucumber

Bent cucumber rule

A very interesting post (in Pet eNews January 2, 2018) mentions a study done by Drexel University. Debbie Philips-Donaldson's excellent article about the study shows a vivid example of how far we can go off course as an industry. Bloggers vilifying tripe as an ingredient for pet food; with pet food manufacturers concurring in their slipstream.

But tripe is human grade! And considered a delicacy in some parts of the world; by humans! The fact that it is considered to be a by-product (where?), does not automatically make it a substance of low quality; or even worse, a substance that is detrimental to our pets’ health. But, we waste it and call it by-products.

 The Drexel study is partly about discarded foodstuffs and as humans we discard = waste a lot; because we believe that a bent cucumber is not fit for human consumption. After all, you can’t shrink-wrap it, so something must be terribly wrong. But why was the bent cucumber condemned to inferiority in the first place? Convenience of slicing?

FAO publications indicate that feeding the 10 billion global population in 2050 or thereabouts can be done if we stop wasting. Which starts at the very beginning of the chain: improper and short-sighted use of soil and ends with parts of meals prepared for us being thrown in the bin. Certainly the latter is all human grade stuff. Or?

 And human grade is something that can raise a few eyebrows. Human grade is an invention that has no regulatory or legal foundation. It is yet another example of make-belief. Just say it and you make the rest inferior. It is – or rather was – a point of differentiation. Not anymore, because the majority of pet food manufacturers now use so-called human grade ingredients. Which again proves that just being different is not sustainable anymore. The consumer wants you to be special.

Looking closer at communication about pet food – whether blogs, websites or old-fashioned articles in magazines I cannot help thinking that striving for transparency is not as common as one would hope it to be. People who appear not to be burdened by too much knowledge about a subject utter statements that can best be described as sophisms. Like: “I say having A in a product is bad. I do not do A in my product. Therefore my product is good!” In most cases there is hardly solid proof that A is bad. But if you say it often enough, with a loud enough voice, a growing group of people will believe you. I mentioned the Pied Piper before.

As long as we hide behind non-valid denominations such as human grade to express our superiority, I do not believe we are honest to our consumers and to ourselves. Therefore, as far as transparency is concerned our industry still has a long way to go!

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