Here in Vermont, we like to know where our food is coming from. As locavore lingo found its way onto labels and restaurant menus alike, foodie entrepreneurs salivated for a slice of the hyperlocal pie, and small businesses sprang up throughout the state.
Gradually, the trend began to wag the dog, too.
According to Travis Germain, store manager at Pet Food Warehouse on Williston Road, Vermont-made products are now so plentiful that management recently reorganized displays to showcase Green Mountain kibbles and treats. "It's been much more of a draw; more and more clients have been asking for local treats and foods recently," he says. "It's much more about where the ingredients are sourced from than it used to be."
At Seven Days, staffers' canine companions' eating habits span the gamut, with diets ranging from raw to homemade to grain free. But it didn't take much convincing to get everyone on board for a tail-wagging taste test of the local fare, aka an office-dog party. Here are the tasting notes, straight from the owners — and the dogs themselves, if we may anthropomorphize.
Fido Feast: The Judges
Sample: Cinnamon Peanut and Honey Oat Biscuits
Ingredients: (varied by flavor, but all contain) rye flour, oat flour, rolled oats, rice flour, fresh eggs, baking powder
Sample: Wheat-free Say Cheese biscuit
Ingredients: rolled oats, flaxseed meal, organic brown rice flour, cheddar cheese, olive oil, nonfat milk, egg
Label notes: "These biscuits are the perfect, guilt-free treat for spoiling — we mean rewarding —your BFFs (best furry friends)!"
Sample: Chicken-liver cookies
Ingredients: oat/rice flours, rolled oats, cooked chicken liver, dry milk, garlic, water
Label notes: "Really good treats for really good dogs!" Cute drawing of mommy and doggie
Sample: K-9 skinny chicken
Ingredients: dehydrated chicken breast
Label notes: "Refrigerate after opening"; "40-ounce bag = 1-pound chicken"
Sample: Tuscan pizza
Ingredients: whole oat flour, whole barley flour, canola oil, white cheddar cheese, extra virgin olive oil, cracked flax seed, dried tomatoes, tomato powder, oregano, garlic, thyme, basil, rosemary oil
Label notes: "Wagatha co-founder Norman Levits began baking dog biscuits for friends in the late '70s (while he waited for disco to die)."
Sample: Puppermint Patties
Ingredients: whole wheat flour, corn meal, wheat germ, water, peanut butter, honey, eggs, canola oil, mint, brewer's yeast, vitamin E
Label notes: "Breath busters ... Natural dog treats! Cleans teeth."
Sample: Biscuits (Peanut Butter Kitties, Beef Bones, Bacon Pigs and Cheesy Hydrants)
Ingredients: (varied by flavor, but all contain) whole wheat flour, cornmeal, wheat germ, eggs, canola oil
Sample: Grain Free kibble, "Duck à l'Orange"
Ingredients: duck, chicken meal, dried potato products, chicken fat naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, dried orange pulp, herring meal, peas, dried egg product, natural chicken flavor, lecithin, ... and many more
Label Notes: "Simplement naturel!"
Sample: Chicken recipe
Ingredients: ground chicken bones, chicken meat, poultry heart, poultry liver
Label notes: "We use local Vermont poultry, which is not fed antibiotics or growth hormones."