There's a game I play when I shop for food for human or companion. I call it The First 5.
Can you guess What parrot product this is by The First 5 ingredients?
Ground corn, Soybean meal, Ground wheat, Wheat germ meal, Sugar
Can you guess what human product this is by it's First 5 ingredients?
Wheat flour, soybean oil, sugar, cottonseed oil, salt
Without naming names the parrot product is a pellet. The human product is a cracker. That being said, why are we eating the latter or feeding the former to our companions? The answer is convenience, and that's about it.
Eating well takes time. Feeding well takes time. Creating a successful companion parrot lifestyle takes time. BUT it doesn't take much time to read a label and consider the reality of the food. Food can be entertainment, but it should be fuel first. Fuel for maintenance, healing, growth, strength and success.
We talk, and sometimes argue about feeding parrots the best foods. We share lists of what not to do and what to do. We defend our food positions online. But, and this is the big but, are you supporting your own health as vigorously as you do your companions? If not, why not?
I only ask because I write articles about rescue, rehoming, care, love, flock and family and the frontline to all of that is us! If we get sick, tire, or fall ill our companions and family suffer. They suffer as much as they would if we fed them poorly. So I have to ask and possibly come off arrogant by doing it, what are you putting into your own body? Why?
Why don't we feed our parrots raw onions, avocado, chocolate, raw garlic, and raw peanuts in the shell? Because it's harmful to them. We don't want to make them sick, or impact their digestion, crop and organs. It's a common conversation and warning. Every one I speak with knows it, and has no problem heeding the warning. But, are we applying the same focus and seriousness to our own health and well being through food? We should. We must! Our family and flock depend on us for their care and future. I get a bit excited about this subject because I know the power of food personally. I practice what I preach, and I know through results it is the simplest of truths. Talk all you want about the excellent food practices in your flock, but if you are eating poorly yourself, you are missing the big picture.
Food for our companions is serious. Food for ourselves is serious. It's time to put them both in the same conversation. Our health directly impacts our flock and family.
Here are my rules for myself and our parrots. Yes, I do break the rules. I break once a week. I do have a cheat meal. Sometimes two. I keep that on the weekends and out of the house and in a restaurant generally. I don't bring the sin home.
No processed field grains. (Wheat/Soy/Corn)
Food that gets passed through a window IS NOT FOOD. It's entertainment. (I don't do fast food)
No carton or jug cow's milk. (Cottage Cheese, yes. Swiss cheese, rarely.)
Read all labels. If the first 5 ingredients include any of the above, walk away.
Stay in the produce section of the grocery store. Stay out of the center aisles.
Make meats a treat, not a staple. (Proteins are abundant in beans and legumes.)
Eat small portions, often.
Drink water and herbal teas. (No sodas of any type ever. No fruit juices from a bottle. I can create my own from fresh fruit/veg/nuts)
Seeds are GOOD. Certain seeds. (Hemp, Flax, Pumpkin, Chia, Sesame)
Get your sweet from raw local honey.
Eggs and egg shells are good.
The darker the vegetable,the better the health. Skip carrots, they have a very high sugar level, for A and C vitamins add Romain lettuce. Spinach, Romain, Kale are my go to leafies.
Nuts are good. Raw. Nuts are better raw and in the shell.
These rules support a parrot and a person. These rules require time, effort, thought and planning. Food is fuel. Food is not a toy. Food is the first step we can take in our daily lives that protects us and them. Food is so powerful, and so abundant sometimes, that we have forgotten the truth of it. Food became a retailed commodity, unrecognizable from it's natural form so long ago, there are many people who have never seen a vegetable get pulled from the soil. They have never witnessed the full life cycle of a radish. And they get their nutritional information from packaging art.
Another form of companion parrot advocacy needs to be alive and well in each and all of our flocks and families. This advocacy is in the form of nutrition. Healthy eating is advocacy for every human and parrot in our flock.