JD Allinder

B.A.R.F.

In Posts on July 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I switched to a vegetarian diet in 1996, and shortly after that a friend of mine turned me on to the benefits of raw foods. The raw foods diet is based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and seaweed. Raw foods maintain enzymes that promote digestion and absorption of food, and they assist in weight loss. Raw foods contain fewer trans and saturated fats, and they’re low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, and phytochemicals. Many raw foodists believe that raw is the way God intended us to eat, and a recent study by Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham links obesity to soft, spongy (i.e. processed, overcooked) foods. You can listen to a fascinating interview with Wrangham on this subject on PRI’s The World.

After I began incorporating more raw foods into my diet, I discovered the B.A.R.F. diet for dogs. B.A.R.F. stands for bones and raw food and is really simple: dogs should eat 60 percent raw, meaty bones and 40 percent scraps including fresh fruits and vegetables. This diet mimics the diet of wild canines like foxes, wolves,  jackals, and coyotes and keeps domestic dogs healthy, happy, and psychologically balanced. I began experimenting with B.A.R.F. in the mid-’90s with my lab mix, Georgia, eventually moving her to about 80 percent B.A.R.F., and she lived to a ripe old 14. She also maintained the teeth and gums of a puppy, my favorite byproduct of the B.A.R.F. diet. Dogs on the B.A.R.F. diet never require professional teeth cleaning. Canine dentistry is such a booming industry in the US because the majority of dogs are not eating a natural diet.

Jane loves B.A.R.F., and I’ve slowly been moving her toward a completely raw diet. We started with raw fruits and vegetables (which she loves) and boiled meats with brown rice. Eventually, I moved her to raw meats – venison, rabbit, turkey, chicken – and then raw meat with the bones, like chicken wings and turkey necks. (Yes, dogs can eat chicken bones as long as they’re raw. Canines have been living on fowl – bones and all – since the beginning of time.) This morning I juiced carrots, broccoli, celery, cucumber, and blueberries. I drank the juice and Jane got the pulp mixed with raw beef, ground flax seeds, and brown rice. Tonight she’ll have the same followed by a large meaty bone from the butcher. She gets one each night, and it keeps her busy, stimulated, and satisfied as a dog for a couple of hours. Feeding is a sacred ritual at our house.

Though B.A.R.F. is considered alternative in the United States (it was actually widely practiced before the introduction of commercial dog “food” in the 1930s), it’s still relatively mainstream in many parts of Europe, Africa, Australia, and Latin America where people generally take a more naturalist approach to interacting with dogs. Though I do supplement sometimes with low-cal kibble, Jane’s at about 80 percent B.A.R.F. If you live with a dog, I urge you to consider B.A.R.F. The majority of diseases dogs suffer from are caused by poor nutrition. B.A.R.F. really liberates dogs and returns them to a calm, natural state. Check out Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. It’s the B.A.R.F. bible. Once you read it, you’ll never go back.

Jane loves B.A.R.F.

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  1. Look at that face!

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