Archive for July, 2013

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Making Chop with Patricia Sund

July 21, 2013

On July 20th, I had the enormous pleasure of meeting one of the most prolific bird bloggers on the internet, the wonderful Patricia Sund, who came all the up to Maryland to lead a Phoenix Landing class on how to make “Chop”.

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What is Chop?

Chop is a feeding concept Patricia has been advocating for on her blog for years, which calls for mixing a healthy variety of “real”, fresh, nutritious and flavorful foods in large batches, bagging portions to freeze, and then thawing and feeding the mix daily for as long as it lasts before making more.

“Chop is a concept, not a formula.”

The idea is not just to provide healthy foods to our companion birds but to do so in a way that’s easy and stress-free (because if it’s not easy, few will stick to it).

Patricia started this feeding method because she found that cooking for her (then only) parrot on a daily basis was just too time consuming! And since she traveled a lot and relied on friends and neighbors to come feed her bird (now birds) while she was gone, it also wasn’t feasible or realistic to ask other people to prepare parrot meals from scratch twice daily. Chop was the solution to all that.

She blogged about her process and was overwhelmed by the positive response — the idea really resonated with other bird owners who felt guilty about not feeding more fresh food or were overwhelmed by the task of preparing or cooking food for their birds all the time.

Since then, she’s become a vocal advocate for the Chop concept, touring the country to visit bird groups and show them how it can simplify everyone’s life (but she’s quick to point out that she didn’t invent the concept, she’s just working to popularize it.)

A Master(chef) Course in Chop!

Her visit to Maryland is just one of many such workshops she gives every year. I showed up to class to see two huge tables covered with ingredients that we were going to use. Many of the ingredients came from a regular grocery store run from the day before, but quite a bounty came from the garden of Laura Ford, Phoenix Landing’s MD education coordinator.

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Just say NO! to Candy-Covered Millet Treats for Birds. Gross.

July 17, 2013

So this was just brought to my attention: A brand called FM Brown’s is selling bird “food” called Extreme! Candy-Covered Millet Treats. Hat tip to “Amanda’s Tweeties” for posting this picture:

 

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Someone at a company that makes bird food thought it was a good idea to cover natural millet sprays with a candy coating. That’s basically sugar and carnauba wax, beeswax, shellac  (I’m not making this up! That’s from the ingredients list!) and a bunch of unpronounceable things.

Birds already love eating fresh millet… why in the world would anyone think covering it in edible wax is a good idea? This is beyond just a silly idea; I find it irresponsible and terrible corporate citizenship to push this product as “food” for animals as sensitive and small as birds — it’s hard enough getting them to eat real, healthy food. We should demand a much higher standard of excellence from any company that claims to “understand that your companion animal isn’t just a pet; they’re a part of your family. That’s why for six generations we’ve devoted ourselves to creating tasty, healthy, nutritious animal food and treats.” (emphasis mine)

A little googling shows that Brown’s isn’t the only company offering this. This isn’t just about FM Brown, but about any company that would sell this type of thing to unsuspecting pet owners who just don’t know any better just because it’s attractive on a shelf (I bet it’s super cheap to make and stays shelf-stable forever! Just want you want in a food product, right?). Pet owners, please educate yourself on your animals nutrition needs and give this type of thing a wide berth.

Please, please, please to not feed this crap to your birds. And you may want to consider not giving companies who make this type of product any of your pet-related business. If they think this is “food”, what other terrible decisions are they making about your animals’ health?

If you’re looking for healthy ideas for treats, try the Phoenix Landing cookbook for some inspiration: Nourish to Flourish: A Healthy Cookbook for Parrots.