Why gourmet food is going to the dogs

(CBS News) Who's to say that a dog's life has to be a dog's life when it comes to food? Certainly not the folks our Rita Braver has been talking with:

If you think artisanal food is just for people, you haven't met Margaret Bishop and her five dogs.

"They're my family, I mean they're, you know, some of the most important relationships I have in my life," Bishop said.

So she lovingly serves them gourmet meals made from flash-frozen raw food. She buys the product directly from her neighbors, Norman and Carole King of Marshall, Va., who sell it right from their front porch freezer.

Meat is the main ingredient, but there are vegetables, too.

"We use kale, bok choy, collard greens, all kinds of good stuff," said Carole King.

"So a health nut's dream!" said Braver.

"It is! Eat up!"

The Kings use only locally grown animals and produce, flash frozen to their specifications at a nearby plant. They and other advocates of the growing raw food movement believe the diet makes dogs healthier and happier.

Entrepreneurs are developing lines of gourmet pet foods.
CBS NEws

But others, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, doubt the benefits, and warn against raw pet food, in part because handling it could spread salmonella or other illnesses to humans.

Carole King says she's not concerned: "We do encourage good hygiene, but it's really no different than if you serve chicken, you know, to your family. It's raw before you cook it."

King says her product is even safe for human consumption. Still, when asked if she's eaten it herself, she replied, "I'm a vegetarian!"

But the staff at The Honest Kitchen, in San Diego, Calif., digs right in, sharing test food items with their pooches - delicacies like dried mango, bananas, spinach, green beans and goji berries.

British-born Lucy Postins, a pet nutritionist, founded the company 10 years ago after a raw food diet seemed to improve her own dogs' health.

"So I really began trying to think of a way that I could still continue feeding him a whole food diet, but make it in a format that was just more simple to prepare," Postins said.

So she started creating formulas from dehydrated raw food. She now sells about $12 million worth of product each year, her organic recipes produced at a Chicago plant where they are ground "to a pulp," Braver said.

"This is a little of a finely-ground one," Postins said. "It's the balance between what's visually appealing to the owner and what's digestible for the pet."

She's even got a line of tea for dogs.

And, yes, raw food tends to be more expensive than the average pet food, costing up to $4 a day.

But, she says, that's not a problem for customers, whose dogs just eat it up!


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