For over fifteen years, I have done my best to always eat organically grown food. I have also tried to feed my pets organic but that is not as easy as it sounds. When I met Katie Metz, owner and creator of Ginger's Treats, I learned a lot about why it is so difficult (and, honestly, expensive) to feed my pets organic. Katie believes the same thing I do: "I don't like to eat stuff that's not organic myself, I'm not going to feed it to my pets... Plus it's better for the environment too. It's just a better thing all the way around." And so Katie went through the ridiculously long, difficult and expensive process of getting Ginger's Treats certified USDA organic.
The process of getting certified organic usually takes four months but Katie applied in July of 2013 and was only officially certified last week. According to Katie, the government shut down and a staffing shortage prolonged her certification process. Getting the organic stamp of approval on pet food is a two fold process. Katie worked with the pet food department of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, who works with AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards and regulations, to make sure that Ginger's Treats are healthy for dogs and labeled accurately. All of Ginger's Treats had to be independently tested three times to determine each flavors average nutritional values. This way, Katie could properly label the guaranteed analysis on the bag. Statements of "natural" on pet food bags mean nothing yet statements of "organic" can only be legally used if proven in tests. However, Katie told me "Organic doesn't mean it's good for dogs it just means that the product that's in there is healthier. You could have organic chocolate in your dog treat recipe but obviously that shouldn't be part of a dogs diet." So in not only are Ginger's Treats organic, but they include organic ingredients, approved by AAFCO, that studies show are safe and healthy for dogs.
However "the pet food department [of the Washington State Department of Agriculture] doesn't care where you cook, doesn't look into kitchens, " Katie explains, "but the organics department [also through the Washington State Department of Agriculture] is the one that comes out to your studio, that says, 'yes she's doing the right thing.' They watch me actually cook. They look at all my receipts to make sure everything is what I say it is... They can actually drop in whenever they want." The certification fee is $500 and they also take 3% of the profits from Ginger's Treats every year. But, Katie says it is worth it: "that quality meant everything." Through testing for USDA organic approval, which cost an additional $100 per flavor, Katie proved that very treat is
Basically Katie makes treats that she is proud to feed to her own dog, Ginger. "The other thing that I have done that I am very proud of is that I use coconut oil... I do all ingredients that can possibly come from the United States," but Katie's first priority is to source organic ingredients. And it is indeed a very complicated process to do just that. The next step for Ginger's Treats may be to offer protein based treats that are certified humane. In the end, Katie's goal for Ginger's Treats is the "hope that one person changes how they feed their dog... one dog eats healthier." I know that she has already helped at least three! Wilhelm, Brychwyn and Huxley couldn't be happier.