- To give thoughtful consideration to and conduct business in a manner that honors the health and well-being of all species (human, wild, farm and domestic animals);
- To be a discriminating purveyor of high-quality, ethically produced, truly wholesome & pure, genuinely natural foods & lifestyle products;
- To develop and produce the best wholesome raw pet foods and truly natural pet products with a focus on using pastured, organic, local, sustainable, wild-crafted ingredients;
- To provide these products and services at a fair cost to both the consumer and supplier;
- To support outstanding ranches, farms, small businesses and individuals that work hard to produce products with integrity and honor;
- To unite a diverse community that share a common interest in wholesome foods & Natural Rearing;
- To cultivate a compassionate and informed community that educate, inspire, and support one another;
- To mentor through education about feeding whole fresh food diets to pets and Natural Rearing principles.
SFRAW was originally founded in 2003 with the goal of making high quality, ethically produced meats from excellent sources more affordable. At the time, I was feeding 10-lbs of raw food every day to my two Great Danes, two cats, and large foster/hospice dog. I had a difficult time being able to afford, and source, the types of meats I wanted to buy for my animals — meats that were sustainable, humane, and ethically produced from small local ranchers. As a long-time environmentalist and ethical vegan, I simply could not stomach the idea of supporting/buying and feeding my animals factory farmed, industrialized, confinement operation produced meats — the inhumane and cruel conditions under which the animals were raised, unhealthy results (for the economy, humans and animals), and damaging impacts on the environment were all considerations I made in choosing which meats to buy and which farms to support. But being able to afford the high cost of buying these meats from a typical retail natural grocery outlet or my local butcher shop, and finding a selection of these types of sources was a challenge. This is how SFRAW was born and this goal will always be a big part of our mission:
We get inquiries regularly from people interested in feeding their dogs and cats raw, but have not made the switch because they have concerns about the associated costs of feeding this way. While it may be true that feeding fresh, wholesome foods from some of the best, highest quality meat producers available may cost more upfront than feeding kibble — we maintain that the benefits of feeding a fresh foods diet, and supporting ethical, sustainable meat producers are more than worth it in the end. One local company, Feed This!, put together this chart that reviews the net cost savings of feeding a raw diet. Often, when feeding a 100% fresh foods diet, you can realize significant savings on veterinary, grooming and health costs — one of the major benefits of feeding raw is the daily and long-term improvements in health (physical, emotional and behavioral) your dog or cat can experience when given the opportunity to thrive on a biologically appropriate, nutrient-rich, fresh, whole foods diet.
One such inquiry came through recently from a prospective member with two, 110-lb. young male Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They had a monthly budget in place, and wanted to know if they could afford to feed their dogs raw within their budget. Luckily, I am very familiar with the challenges of feeding large quantities of food on a budget!
I first suggested that she review our last blog post to determine how much they would need to feed based on activity level and age and to review our guide for determining proper body composition and management of their ideal weight.
My next suggestion was to consider feeding a proven, easy-to-follow and moderately priced meal program that I prepared many years ago for a wonderful Great Dane named Xander (Xanders_Menu). Xander was just weeks old when we started him on this menu, and he’s absolutely thrived on it for over 8 years. He’s now an active, fit and supremely healthy senior that continues to enjoy and thrive on this diet. For a SFRAW member, the overall cost for Xander’s menu (including veggies & supplements) averages out to around $3-4/lb. with today’s pricing.
I then decided to crunch the numbers (both nutritionally and economically) to prepare the below menu for feeding a “Frankenprey” style, cost-conscious diet to be prepared at home using SFRAW sourced ingredients: FrankenPrey Cheap Cuts (PDF). The preparation for this style of feeding is not so much with measuring and mixing things together, but portioning out the cuts into the sizes that you need to feed them (per meal or per day or per dog or cat – whatever works best for you), packing for the freezer and then defrosting to feed “as is” parts and pieces.
From our very excellent sources/producers, here in San Francisco (where the cost for food is considerably higher than other places in the US and the cost of living is among the highest according to many, including Forbes), the lowest pricing I could put together and still maintain a good, varied/reasonable (not too restrictive or skimping on high quality muscle meat), nutritionally balanced diet was around $2.50-$3/lb. If these dogs consume the average amount of 2% their body weight in food a day, two 110-lb young, active Ridgebacks would require 132-lbs of food a month and the cost for food would be a bit over $300/month.
The diet I put together includes seafood/fish, so you may not necessarily need to supplement with fish oil/EFAs or SFRAW’s most excellent Red or White Gold supplement (which I strongly recommend!) This plan is a stripped down, “just the basics” foundation menu that does not include added beneficial foods or supplements, seasonal foods (such as raw goat milk or pastured eggs) or vegetables, herbs, seeds, seaweed, natural vitamins/minerals or other nutrient boosting foods. For their best possible health, I do recommend including some of these nutritional enhancements, at your discretion, in supplemental amounts. This menu and budget also does not include treats.
On the other hand, my menu plan does not include the frequent deeply DISCOUNTED “one time only deals” and “on special” items we score for our members and work hard to find to keep your overall costs as low as possible. The products and prices listed on this menu are our everyday low SFRAW member prices (Jan 2015) on products that are available regularly at a great price. The monthly menu and plan costs could certainly be lowered by incorporating some of these discounted products we offer on a regular basis. That being said, my suggestion to include seasonal extras and whole food supplements (which will add to the cost) along with incorporating those discounted specials we offer, would probably average out the cost per lb. to remain around the same as projected on the menu plan ($2.50-$3/lb).
Of course, it is more expensive to feed prepared raw foods, but not by much for at least the SFRAW Halibut/Salmon Formula ($4.50/lb) and SFRAW Chicken Formula ($5.85/lb). By feeding a prepared raw formula, you can enjoying the convenience of something prepared and packaged for you (simply defrost and feed!) plus the added benefit and security of providing a complete and balanced diet with the addition of wonderfully healthy, nutrient dense “booster” or extra foods included in these blends. However, for the budget minded SFRAW member, or for those preferring to feed a Frankenprey style diet (based on non-ground whole parts & pieces), this menu provides you with a suggested shopping list, menu plan that provides nutritional balance and expected costs.
I hope this proves that feeding raw through SFRAW can be a lot more affordable than one may expect!
Lastly, there are additional suggestions on how to feed raw on a limited budget available here. However, the SFRAW mission and goal is not to find the least expensive meat possible — our mission and goals are to procure the highest quality, humanely-raised meats and offer these products are a fair market price (“the best meat at the best price”). To learn more about the economics of supporting healthy and humane meat production, we suggest reading the following articles:
http://www.americangrassfedbeef.com/comparision.asp (yes, we realize that this is written by the American Grassfed Beef organization)