Market Musings Blog

Hey, cat lovers – Eat Local Month’s not just for humans

It’s not at all uncommon for people to pamper their pets, sometimes by way of treats, toys, special grooming, or young children (oh, I already said toys). Among these other ways, our cats are also pampered in their everyday food.   When we adopted a pair of sibling kittens just about a year ago, we did some research into what the healthiest and most natural food out there was (and one that would still fit into our budget).  It seemed clear to us that the way to go was to simply make our own raw meat cat food at home.

Cats are, by design, hunters—pull out a feather toy or laser pointer or watch them around a bug and you’re sure to see the instincts kick in—but their teeth and digestive tract are set up to process raw meat, and little else.  We read over and over that dry-only diets are the worst for cats, and are the leading cause of obesity and other health issues…because they simply didn’t evolve to eat such stuff.  Canned wet food is a step up, no doubt, but even the varieties we sell at Mississippi Market have filler and are bound to utilize meat scraps and some form of preservatives, and this highly processed mush doesn’t give a cat’s teeth the same cleaning that chewing into fresh meat does. We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy.  And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

The recipe we work from we found online at Cat Nutrition and it’s pretty simple, almost everything is available at Mississippi Market, and all of the meat and eggs are locally produced!

-Raw muscle, bone-in meat:  We usually use Kadejan or Schultz whole chickens.  We’ve also made a batch using a rabbit from LTD Farms, but that was some costly meat.  Dark meat is more nutritious than white meat, so adding in some leg quarters is wise.  Essential nutrients are found in bones, and if you don’t grind these in, additional dry supplements will be necessary.

-Organ meat: cats will usually eat their entire kill, and vital vitamins, minerals, and proteins are only found in certain organs.  US food laws only allow sale of whole animals after certain organs have been removed, so you’ll need to get some chicken hearts and livers to supplement; Kadajan also offers these, and can be found in the meat freezers or special ordered.  Our cat Porter really enjoys a plain heart as a treat, too!

-Egg yolks: we almost always buy Schultz eggs in bulk.

-Water: while cats will drink water from a bowl, much of their hydration should come from food (one reason the dry-only diet isn’t ideal).

Cat food #2

A meat grinder is necessary. We found one online for about $120, it works great & has uses for human food, too.

-A variety of vitamin and mineral supplements: since skin, hair, and many organs have been removed from the meat we grind, essential oils and other nutrients won’t be present in the above ingredients alone.  Of what the website lists, almost everything is either readily available in the Wellness section of our stores or can be special ordered.  I think the only part of this recipe we couldn’t buy at Mississippi Market was the glandular supplement, but this is relatively inexpensive to order online.

-Lastly, a meat grinder is necessary.  We bought a simple stand-alone unit (as in not a Kitchenaid attachment) for about $120 online, and it has worked flawlessly for us, bones and all, for the past year.

The recipe calls for mixing the yolks, water, and supplements into a slurry, which is then mixed in with all the ground up meat (we use a medium-size grind head).  When using whole birds, we remove the skin to cut excess fat out of the recipe when there’s white meat included….and this helps the grinder from getting clogged up.  I’ve had friends around during the process who’ve asked what I was making because it looked quite good.

Cat food #3

Need a reason to buy Talenti gelato? Their containers work great for reusable storage!

If you’re busy or don’t want to walk through the entire process multiple times a month, it’s simple stuff to store and freeze. We usually make a double batch of this recipe, and that’ll last us right about a month for our two still-young cats. And, what better reason to buy Talenti gelato? The sturdy plastic containers are excellent for re-using for storage (Heads-up – Talenti will be on sale for part of September! Perfect!) Each of these containers is about two days-worth of food for two cats, at two-servings a day.

After our first batch, we cost it out to see if it would be a cost-effective venture to keep up with. Not counting the grinder (which can be used for a plethora of other human-food tasks!) or Talenti, buying all the raw food and supplements works out to be about the same as buying a similar quantity of any of the cans of cat food we sell when they are on sale. And if you snag meat or supplements when they are on sale or otherwise discounted, all the better. The whole process (cutting apart the chicken through the final cleaning) for a batch the size we make is usually a two hour process at most, but we only need to do it about once a month.

Finding the benefits of raw cat food isn’t hard, from helping avoid kidney and weight issues, a healthier coat, a more active personality, to just knowing what’s going into the food this extension of your family is eating. Oh, and they won’t be able to get enough.

Cat food #4

We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy. And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

*Disclaimers: While cats’ systems are tuned to digest raw food, all precautions should be taken with making sure what they eat is as fresh as possible. Only thaw what they will eat within 2-3 days, and be sure to clean all hands, surfaces, containers, and implements that come in contact with raw meat immediately. Transitioning a cat from a dry-only or canned food diet should be done gradually. There is always the risk of injury from a bone fragment being too big or sharp, but this is nothing that a cat wouldn’t also risk hunting on their own outdoors.

Co-written by Ben & Jess Zamora-Weiss, staff members and bloggers for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find Ben at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find and Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and taste amazing!

Seriously? Orange creamsicle flavored protein powder?

Krysta runs. A lot.

Krysta runs. A lot.

I like to run. A lot. I’ve been known to run marathons and the occasional shorter distance, too, and for roughly 7-8 months of the year my boyfriend affectionately refers to my running habit as “the other man.”  His logic is pretty sound – I buy Running new shoes, I go out with Running most nights of the week, and on Sunday mornings I have a standing date with Running for 2-3 hours, not to mention how sweaty I am when I return home.

So you see, I am a runner, and contrary to popular belief, being a good runner or athlete depends on fueling just as much as training. I try my hardest to eat pretty well (and to be honest it isn’t too difficult when working at a natural foods co-op) but trying to find clean “sport” products proves to be another challenge entirely. You know what I’m talking about – the electrolyte drinks with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the protein powders with flavors like “orange creamsicle” and “cookies and cream,” and those energy gels made out of….whatever they are made out of!  All of these things seem counterintuitive to feed my body, and so when I found out that the co-op, MY co-op, was going to bring in a few “sport lines,” I literally leapt for joy.

Part of Krysta's running shoe collection.

Part of Krysta’s running shoe collection.

Below is a short list of my favorite “sport” products  – give them a try, especially if your sport-of-choice has developed into an imaginary friend who takes up all of your free time. Because in that case your imaginary friend deserves something new and awesome like a HFCS-free electrolyte drink!

Vega Sport Endurance Gel – just like all of those other weird gels on the market, but better! These sticky space-food-looking packets are awesome during long runs (runs lasting more than 90 minutes) and are made with dates and coconut oil!

Tera’s Whey Organic Whey Protein – A local, organic, DELICIOUS protein powder in real flavors and colors (I’m looking at you Big Brand orange creamsicle flavor!) I love to add a few scoops to my post-run smoothie to refuel; the Fair Trade Dark Chocolate is so good it tastes sinful.

Trace Minerals Electrolyte Stamina Power Paks – these little packets are the bees knees, small and simple, and not so different from your favorite vitamin-C supplement. Trace Minerals knows their stuff, and so they understand that athletes need electrolytes as well as potassium, vitamin C, and a few carbs and calories for good measure. Perfect for a sweaty summer run!

Zico Coconut Water – I admit it, I was slow to catch onto the coconut water craze. The thickness of its consistency really turned me off, but the benefits that it touted were hard to ignore, so I bought a few and gave them a try. Coconut water is seriously awesome stuff, made from pure water harvested from coconuts and loaded with electrolytes, potassium, and refreshing coconut flavor.

Alaffia body care – beyond fair trade

We carry many lovely body care products – many that are good for your skin and the earth. Then there is Alaffia. In the words of Lauren, our Wellness manager, there is no question in my mind that of all the lines we carry, Alaffia is the company that gives the most back in meaningful, real outreach.”

Olowo-ndjo & his mother, Abiba Agbanga near Lome, Togo

Olowo-ndjo & his mother, Abiba Agbanga near Lome, Togo

The company’s founder, Olowo-n’djo, grew up in Togo where his mother was a farmer. He quit school in the 6th grade to help his mother on the farm. But in 1996, he met my wife Rose Hyde, who is from a farming community in rural Washington State. Rose was in Kaboli as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the agenda of educating farmers on sustainable farming techniques. Two years after meeting Rose, he joined her in the United States and began learning English immediately. In 2004, Olowo-n’djo earned a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Studies, with emphasis on Global Economic Systems from the University of California, Davis. Prior to that, in 2003, he returned to Togo to organize women to handcraft shea butter.

Olowo-n’djo and Rose have pledged their lives to do what they can to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa – helping their communities in central Togo sustain themselves through the fair trade of their indigenous resource – shea butter.

Recipients of the Alaffia bike project line up to greet Olowo-djo in Sokode, Togo.

Recipients of the Alaffia bike project line up to greet Olowo-n’djo in Sokode, Togo.

Their empowerment programs in Togo include: 

  • the bike project - distributes bicycles in 40 villages near the shea butter cooperative, which provide transportation to and from school
  • the school project - donates school supplies and bench seats to schools
  • the reforestation project - plants trees & supplements women farmers’ incomes
  • maternal health - helps provide prenatal care to reduce maternal death rates
  • gender equality - honors women’s contributions by working towards gender equality in our communities. One way to do this is to place fair monetary value on the unique skills of African women, such as handcrafting shea butter, and compensate them with fair values for their products and knowledge.

It would be enough to want to buy Alaffia products simply to support them in the amazing work they are doing to better peoples’ lives. But the fact that their body and hair care products are high-quality and fair-trade make them even more compelling.

To learn more about Olowo-n’djo and Alaffia, visit their website www.alaffia.com

Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care.

Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care.

Photos courtesy of Alaffia

Back to school with aromatherapy

Notebook? Check. Pens/pencils/calculator? Check. Cool/trendy, (but functional) backpack to put everything in? Check. Now how about adding aromatherapy to the list of need-to-have school supplies?

Essential oils offer many benefits to any back-to-school scholars you’’re sending out the door this fall – —from creative inspiration, hit-the-books motivation, even purifying protection from suddenly being thrown together with a crush of new classmates. The pure and natural essential oils that are used in the easy-to-make aromatherapy recipes below smell great, plus they may just prove to be unique and valuable tools for getting your kids to the head of the class.

 

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Inspire a boost of brain-power with tangy-sweet Bergamot orange and bracingly cool Peppermint. Sometimes kids need more than just a good breakfast to energize their school day. Include a little tin of desktop diffusing salts in their backpack for a midday boost. Sprinkled with bergamot orange and peppermint oils, these salts will help dispel mental cobwebs and encourage creative thinking anytime throughout the day.

 


Peppermint Desktop Diffusing Salts

2 tablespoons coarse grain sea salt
2 oz tin with lid
15 drops bergamot oil
5 drops peppermint oil

Directions: Place salt in tin. Sprinkle with oils. Shake and inhale. Apply more oils as aroma fades.

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Evoke a study-motivating atmosphere with forest-fresh Eucalyptus and herbal lavandin. Kids can carry a small spray bottle of this blend in their school kit. A few spritzes before entering home room or a study session in the library will encourage them to hit the books and retain knowledge.

 

 

 

Eucalyptus Aromatic Study-Stimulating Spray

4 ounces water
12 drops eucalyptus oil
12 drops lavandin oil ( kari, we dont have lavandin oil, we do have lavender)
4 ounce spray bottle

Directions: Place ingredients in spray bottle. Shake vigorously, mist and inhale.

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Lemon Oil Cleansing Aloe Hand Gel 

2 ounces unscented aloe vera gel
7 drops lemon oil
5 drops tea tree oil
2 ounce squeeze bottle

Directions: Mix ingredients well in bottle. Apply a small amount to hands and rub them together. Wipe off any excess.