Monday, July 11, 2011

Rachael Ray's "Nutrish"; meditations on a free sample

As I discussed in my What's For Dinner? post, I feed Elka Taste of the Wild, Wetlands fowl flavor.  So why, you might ask me, do I have a tiny bag of Rachael Ray's "Nutrish" in my house?  Open, no less?

Well, it was free.

I saw the free sample offer and thought, "eh, what the heck".  Especially since I've gotten the Just 6 treats for Elka, and she's liked them, and I've appreciated that the ingredients list was, in fact, comprised of only six items.

Unfortunately, Nutrish doesn't measure up even to the Just 6 treats.  Nutrish, in fact, has quite the long ingredients list.  Throwing an eyeball in it, I was skeptical of the quality of this food.  It looked to me quite a bit like things like Purina, though not so bad as Ol' Roy or the Value Choice (I think that's what it's called) brand that Hannaford has.  The latter doesn't even contain anything that pretends it's meat; it's all corn and fat and fillers.  I read some of those dog food bags when I start to think about how much Elka's food costs.

Of course, I'm no dog nutritionist, and so I went to Dog Food Analysis, which is a website I trust regarding its reviews of dog food.  On the Dog Food Analysis page for the Chicken and Veggies Nutrish, I found that it was rated two stars.  Listing chicken as a first ingredient can be misleading, apparently, as chicken (and other meats) are largely contained of water, which means they drastically lose volume, and thus ingredient percentage, when they are cooked into the food.  There are also, apparently, three instances of corn.  At the very least, it contains neither sugar nor corn syrup, ingredients that perplex me when I find them involved with dog food and treats.  It's one thing if the sugars come from added fruit of some form, as fruit has nutritional value and Elka finds it tasty.  It's another entirely if sugar is its own ingredient, along with various dyes.  Sorry folks, I don't think my dog cares what color her food is, or if her "bacon" treats (should I ever buy those for her. I haven't yet) are actually reddish like bacon.

So if the Rachael Ray Nutrish is so horrible, why is the bag open?  Well, I make a lot of nutrition choices for myself that aren't exactly top notch.  I've tried to do better, and make more complete meals with more basic ingredients.  I don't buy much processed food, really, other than bread (which I also sometimes make) and pasta (which I have never yet made but always intend to).  However, there are some times I yearn for something snacky and get Doritos, or cookies, or ice cream.  It's a treat.

And so that's what the Nutrish is doing in my house; I've been using it, a little bit at a time, as training treats for Elka.  The kibble sizes are slightly varied, but all rather small, which I kind of like.  Elka likes it, because it's almost like Cheetos or cookies, but in dog food form.  Her diet is high quality; her kibble is good (six stars on Dog Food Analysis), and most of her treats are of a low-ingredient variety as well.  But sometimes, it's nice to relax a little and eat junk.

Who knows, maybe the Nutrish is why Elka's leash manners are suddenly so fantastic?  That trend has continued, by the way.