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Dog food is a big business and the market is so flooded with products that it is hard to know what to choose. The increased awareness about food sensitivities and allergies only compound the problem. And the massive pet food recall in 2007 heightened owners' anxiety about what to feed their pets. But there are factors one must be aware of in regards to dog food - palatability, price and potential. The dog food should taste good so that the dog will eat it. It should not be astronomically expensive, especially in these trying times and one should see results with their food.
Pet owners are confused by manufacturer's claims, and disheartened by health problems that may arise from some foods. They are also aware of the ills of our own foods that we eat and therefore, have begun to take a closer look at what they are feeding their animal companions. After all, if people are being told to eat fewer processed foods and more fresh foods, then shouldn't it make sense that pets should benefit from that advice as well.
Necessary nutrients: You can learn a lot about the quality of the food by looking carefully at the label on the package. You should look for the basic factors for sound nutrition - proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats.
Proteins: These are present in all kinds of meat and meat by-products. This form of protein is the best source for your dog. A lot of dog foods use vegetable proteins such as soy because it is cheap. These are harder to digest. A dog's need for protein varies depending on his age, size and activity. Puppy foods have higher levels of protein whereas senior foods have less.
Carbohydrates: These are necessary for energy. Their sources are typically rice, corn or some other grain like wheat. However, a lot of grains cause allergies and therefore most dog foods use rice as their starch.
Vitamins and minerals: Dogs need vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies functioning as we do. A lack of iron can cause anemia and a lack of Vitamin E can cause dry, brittle skin.
Fats: are a necessary part of the diet. Fat is what keeps the skin supple and the coat shiny. Too little fat in the diet and you get a dry, brittle coat and dry skin. Too much fat and you get an obese dog. Fat is extremely palatable and that is why a lot of dog foods have fats for nutritional and taste values.
Water: Dogs can go longer without food than they can water. To stay hydrated, and to cool off, dogs need a constant supply of fresh, clean water. It is absolutely necessary to leave out a clean bowl of water at all times for your dog. Dogs can't tell you when they are thirsty, so it is important that you leave out water at all times.
Feeding a commercial diet: Commercially prepared pet foods come in three forms - dry, canned and semi-moist. Dry food is the most nutritional and economical food choice, but it is the least palatable. Canned food on the other hand are quite palatable, but more expensive, and cannot provide the hard crunchiness that benefits dogs' teeth and gums (and no, canned foods do not give your dog worms). Semi-moist is the most comparable to human junk foods. They are loaded with extra sugars and preservatives.
It is important to store dry dog food in an airtight container as soon as possible to help ensure freshness. We all know what it is like to eat stale cookies or potato chips after the bag has been opened. Yes, dogs do not like stale foods either. I am constantly telling clients to buy the approximate size bag of dog food for their dog. I don't think you will be saving a lot of money if you buy a 50-pound bag for your Shih Tzu or Poodle when you are feeing him only two cups a day. Freshness is more important.
If you are confused as to whether you should feed your dog dry food or canned foods, why not mix the two together. I like mixing the dry food with canned foods at a ratio of three parts dry to one part wet. Remember, both of these foods are formulated to provide your dog with the same types and mixtures of protein, carbohydrates and fats. While dry foods contain the same things as canned foods, the difference is that the water and blood has been removed from the dry food.
Many breeders and dog experts feed their dogs commercial name brands of dry dog food such as Pro Plan, Exceed, Pedigree or Purina One, and supplement these foods with the occasional canned food such as Alpo. I tell clients to sometimes mix the dry food with canned foods such as Friskies or tuna, mackerel or sardines to give the food some added taste. There is no denying that canned foods provide good flavor and a little additional meat that dogs love. The dry food is nutritional and hard and crunchy as long as it's kept fresh. This causes your dog to chew more, and eating the dry food helps clean their teeth by scraping off bits of accumulated plaque or tartar. Wet foods can accumulate along the gum line and between the teeth, contributing to poor oral health.
o Dr. Basil Sands can be contacted at the Central Animal Hospital at 325-1288.
A majority of veterinarians are against feeding table food to dogs, however, I fall within the minority and don't have a strong objection against table food as long as it is healthy table food.
Most people feed table food that are leftovers from a meal (fats, bones, carbohydrates like rice and pasta). That can often cause obesity, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Throughout my school years I was taught that people food was not good for animals. However, having studied nutrition from a health/bodybuilding/fitness point of view, I am of the belief that once people food is balanced and healthy (that is lean meats, grains, vegetables, fiber), it is okay to feed to your dogs.
If you are interested in adding people food or fresh food to your dog's diet, it is recommended that you gradually add the food to your pet's diet. This is because most dogs have sensitive stomachs and will vomit, have diarrhea, or have lot of gas/flatulence. Also, slipping foods to your dog from the table while you are eating is a sure way to create a begging nuisance. So feed your dog only from his own dish at his own mealtime.
There are some foods that we eat that should not be given to dogs because they are either outright toxic or unhealthy for some reason.
o Chocolate: In large doses it is toxic for dogs and can cause tremors and heart arrhythmia. But chocolate in any dose, even a single Oreo cookie is junk food, and not healthy for dogs.
o Macadamia nuts: As little as one ounce of these nuts can cause temporary paralysis.
o Tomatoes and tomato plants: Contain Atropine which can cause dilated pupils, tremors and heart arrhythmia.
o Onion and garlic: Eating large amounts can cause hemolytic anemia. So be aware of the old wives' tale of feeding garlic to combat fleas.
o Grapes and raisins: For unknown reasons, eating grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
o Any food that has mold or may be even slightly spoiled. Dogs can get severe food poisoning from molding or spoiled foods. Any food that is not fresh enough for you to eat, isn't fresh enough for your dog either.
o Raw meat or raw bones: They can make a dog sick. I would prefer that you parboil them before feeding them to your dogs.
o Cookies, cake, ice cream and candy: Have no nutritional value, makes dogs fat and may make them vomit or have diarrhea.
o Sugarless gum, certain desserts that have Xylitol (sugar sweetener) can cause liver disease and hypoglycemia.
o Fried, greasy or fatty foods: High fat foods can trigger pancreatitis, and should be avoided or given in very small quantities.
o Beer or alcoholic beverages: Should be totally avoided. If it does occur, it is considered to be animal abuse.
o Corncobs, apple seeds: Never underestimate a dog's ability to swallow things whole and have them get stuck somewhere in the digestive tract.
o Dr. Basil Sands can be contacted at the Central Animal Hospital at 325-1288.
AML Foods Limited plans to shift its focus towards its franchise division in 2013 and develop business synergies following a period of rapid expansion.
Gavin Watchorn, the CEO of AML Foods, said the "franchise push" is a long time coming. While the makeover is not on the same level of investment as launching food stores, the top executive noted that it's necessary to keep up with fast-food competition in Nassau.
A number of Domino's Pizza stores will receive a front-of-house polish while bolstering customer service offerings.
"We've allowed our competition to take a step on us," he told Guardian Business yesterday. "We were focused on the food store business and we achieved what we needed to on that. Now it's time to get focused on the franchises."
Also linked with the franchise makeover is the eventual rise of Carl's Jr. in Nassau. AML Foods is awaiting final approvals and anticipates a summer opening. The location of the first Carl's Jr., however, has yet to be announced.
The new focus for the BISX-listed company follows the official release of its third quarter results yesterday afternoon.
AML Foods recorded a net profit of $374,000 for this period compared to just $60,000 in the previous year.
The year-to-date profit was pegged at $1.4 million, more than doubling last year's mark of $623,000. Overall sales for the quarter rose 29.9 percent and 31.4 percent for the year.
Expenses continue to rise for the company, partly spurred by a string of new store openings last year. This segment has increased $5.7 million for the year.
A $5.8 million reduction in cash balances for the quarter reflected capital expenditures through store expansions and a reduction in capital expenditure and insurance related accounts payable.
Watchorn told Guardian Business that fixed deposits are now at $2.5 million, which is cash earmarked for Carl's Jr's construction.
Last year was indeed a period of change for the BISX-listed company, most notably through the opening of Solomon's Fresh Market at Harbour Bay and Solomon's Lucaya in Grand Bahama.
While the company continues to report quarterly profits in a difficult economic environment, Watchorn believes AML Foods is only scratching the surface.
"We know the potential," he said. "We are only starting on the road to realizing the potential. The last year has been very much one of transition. It has been exciting. With all that behind us, it's time to get back to basics that make you successful in this business. Now that the heavy lifting is behind us, we can bring it to the bottom line."
In other words, the company has an opportunity to boost efficiencies through its various departments and streams of business. Watchorn said that he expects the fourth quarter results to reflect this focus, with increased sales and profits over 2011 levels.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, the chairman of AML Foods, said the company is looking forward to growing the bottom line for shareholders in 2013.
He called 2012 an "exciting year" for AML Foods.
"We have achieved much this past year and have put in place the required platform for continued growth and sustainable earnings. Our expectations for AML Foods Limited have risen and we look forward with confidence to meeting those expectations," D'Aguilar said.
Heralding the start of a new era of growth and development, Mr. Gavin Watchorn, President and CEO, announces effective immediately, the renaming of Abaco Markets Limited to AML Foods Limited. The name change, which had been approved by the Company’s shareholders at their July 21st Annual General Meeting, was recently formally approved by the Registrar of Companies.
After a few minutes of watching neuropharmacologist Dr. Santy Daya cook up some tasty Indian food, Butler's Food World was saturated with the wonderful odours. This, plus the exotic taste of the various items produced helped to give this chef the coveted winning position in the four-week cook-off at Butler's Food store.
Food security was the topic of choice for Agriculture and Marine Resource Minister Larry Cartwright and H Arlington D Chesney, Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) .
Built with funds from CARICOM member countries and donor agencies, CARDI was formed in 1975 to improve agriculture management throughout the Caribbean.
processing has taken on added impetus thanks to a new unit established
by Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC).
Headed by Senior Food Processing Officer Tonjia Burrows, it recently
completed a series of workshops on how to add value to locally grown
"We throw away far too much food that could be preserved in various
forms and used when needed," said BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key...
It's the new year and most people have resolved to start it the right way by eating a lot healthier. And one woman known for her outspokenness is leading the way by giving people the chance to eat healthier. Christina Thompson who is famously known as Chrissy Love extols and lives by the virtues of a raw food diet that she has primarily followed for the past two years and nine months.
The raw food diet lifestyle is based on the belief that the most healthful food for the body is uncooked. In this lifestyle although most food is eaten raw, raw foodists believe heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 118 degrees Fahrenheit (the cutoff temperature) -- and that is the kind of food that she's serving up at her restaurant -- Raw on Da Porch.
Love's food is comprised of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, herbs and sprouts -- in its raw state and if it has to be cooked, the temperature never exceeds 118 degrees. And she has people -- carnivores included -- beating down the door to her shop, Raw on Da Porch, at #1 Rosetta Street at the Hawkins Hill light for the deliciousness that can make them forget they're not eating meat and upping the ante in their diet with good things like veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, herbs and sprouts.
Ish (fake tuna) and chips, pumpkin quinoa soup, chana masala noodle bowls, red beans n' rice, new Rawlins bowl, pumpkin miso soup, sea salad, nori nibs, Thai wraps, da porch burger, and Thai salad are just a few of the menu options. And of course dessert has not been left out of the mix for the sweet-toothed Bahamian community as she offers nice-creems (a take on ice cream) in a variety of flavors all using fruits grown in the country. She does everything from guava nice-creem to tamarind nice-creem, to a dilly nice-creem. She's even made nice-creem out of fever grass in a spin on a sorbet. Anything that grows in this country she experiments with in her raw food lifestyle. Crumbles are also on offer and on any given day you can find her take on rice puddings like quinoa rice pudding made with mylk as opposed to milk. And she's famous for her green smoothies that pack quite a nutritional punch.
Whatever taste she's missing, she attempts to create it -- if not in a raw version, a whole food version.
Chrissy Love describes the joint as The Bahamas' first raw, living, whole, vegan (beegan) sanctuary. And she says she serves meals that are prepared as lovingly as she can with no genetic modifications, no pesticides, no herbicides, no poisons and not cooked above the 118 degrees.
"Raw on Da Porch is an experience because food is a social catalyst ... an emotional thing. Food unites people. And Raw on Da Porch brings that all together, but also gives you food that uplifts you and nourishes you. Raw on Da Porch takes what's good about the Bahamian diet, and mixes it with the clean diet that the Creator intended us to eat and gives you a chance to make your body act the way it's supposed to act," she says.
Love's journey into a raw food diet lifestyle began on April 15, 2009 as a way to nourish herself. She's subscribed to it ever since in her attempt to eat better, especially after not being able to find places for her to eat.
"I couldn't find any good, green food and I was cheating on my raw food lifestyle because I was trying to find a place to eat so I wouldn't cheat. Raw on Da Porch was born out of a need to stick to my program and help others because I saw what it did for me." By consuming a more raw food based diet Love says she released 130 pounds of weight by June 2010. She also says her hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and cholesterol disappeared. Love says her skin was even clearer. She was sold on the lifestyle choice.
"I tell people it's not about weight, but it was a shock to see my body go from 340 pounds to 200 pounds, just from what I ate. The raw food lifestyle is so amazing. It's the same ingredients, just prepped differently. And it's vegetables from the land and the sea, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, herbs, sprouts and I put the love in it because you have to love this thing."
As she knows most people have to be forced to eat greens, especially herself as she describes herself as a sweet mouth, sour mouth, pepper mouth person, so she had to make her raw food diet taste just as good as foods she was used to, to satiate her taste buds. She said it had to taste good.
"Even though I wanted health and wellness, I also wanted to enjoy my journey, because out of the 299 diets that I'd been on before (and I actually counted them) I never could actually say I enjoyed any of the journeys. It was about just going on the latest fad, so it didn't satisfy my soul -- whereas this way of living satisfies my soul because even with my missteps, and I tell people I never speak from a place of perfection, that I'm a work in progress. It is hard to eat peas and rice, macaroni and cheese, potato salad for 47 years and all of a sudden flip the script -- which is what I did. I went 100 percent raw overnight because at the time I just knew I did not want to be sick. I had a child who was fairly young, and my priority was not to die, and to be there for my kid. So basically we take those ingredients and make those into things we like."
Raw on Da Porch literally started out on a porch (hence the name) at the chiropractor's office next door to where she is currently located, before moving to the rear of the building in a workout room. She is now next door to the place where she started.
At a seminar populated by politicians, investors and entrepreneurs, writer Rosemary Parkinson arrived at the Abaco Business Outlook (ABO) with a far more basic message in mind - Bahamians need to rethink food.
Saying that people have grown "lazy" when it comes to food production, she said Bahamians must show more interest in agriculture.
"If we continue to make a mess of things, it might get to the point where we can't afford to buy food from others," Parkinson said.
"We'll end up eating concrete. We need to expand our minds and pursue different avenues. Each island needs to develop its own agricultural commerce and make themselves sustainable."
Parkinson, the award-winning author of Culinaria: The Caribbean, was one of the special guest speakers at the 8th annual conference held in Abaco this week. Among IPOs and business proposals, she chose to focus more on education and changing the mind-set of Bahamians.
She believes we must stop thinking about agriculture "as a dirty thing", and instead look at it "as a professive way to continue life".
Parkinson is concerned about the long-term success and prosperity of The Bahamas, and Caribbean at large, without a sustainable plan for food.
Food production is also good business for The Bahamas, she added, and would provide a much-needed industry, creating more jobs and investment opportunities.
"It's easier to sign a check then prepare the land like they did in the old days," she told Guardian Business.
"It's about educating. What we have to do is start from scratch and educate in primary school about the importance of food and going back to the land. We need a different mind-set for the future."
She also proposed more advanced programs for people interested in agriculture as a career.
Related to food production, Parkinson added, is food tourism - an industry she tried to promote at the ABO.
After building farms and infrastructure dedicated to food production, and placing culinary traditions on the international map, tourists would come to The Bahamas to experience the life, and try the food.
Parkinson used friends of hers in the US as an example.
"They would pay big money to go and stay with a family in Italy and help work the farm," she said. "They are paying to work. The family in the evening then teaches them how to cook the food - they come back to the U.S. happy as lambs."
She also used the winery tours as another instance where the development of agriculture and food production can lead to tourism.
Either way, whether food tourism proves to be a hit in The Bahamas, Parkinson hopes more Bahamians will get their hands dirty on the land, instead of signing a check.
Erika Robinson has enjoyed quite a journey to get to where she is today, operating a takeaway that sells food that both meat eaters and vegetarians can partake in. From the world of banking and finance to flipping omelettes out of a shack on the side of Carmichael Road, she's now found her niche on her family's homestead on Hawkins Hill, operating Da Glass Kitchen.
The food that Robinson has been serving for the past four years is delicious and famous around town -- for those in the know -- but at the same time, it's almost still a well-kept secret.
Fans of Da Glass Kitchen offerings swarm the spot for vegetarian breakfast items like scrambled tofu, grilled tofu, veggie burrito or a hot slam bam made with veggies and cheese. Regular Bahamian breakfast items like tuna salad, steamed mackerel and steak and eggs satisfy the carnivorous set.
For lunch, vegetarians can take their pick of veggie burgers, tofu or curried veggie medley, or a sautéd veggie wrap, to meals like sautéed vegetables or BBQ tofu, BBQ veggie steak strip or curried tofu veggie medley served with veggie rice or white rice. Meat lovers can enjoy their fill of burgers from beef to turkey, curried chicken wraps, old-fashioned sandwiches like tuna melt, sausage and cheese or meals like curried chicken, BBQ steak or a grilled chicken medley with veggie or rice.
"One of the reasons why I started the restaurant is because I have more of a vegetarian diet, and there are very few places where I can go to eat in Nassau and choose from a menu. Generally, I may get a potato or steamed veggies, or maybe a salad, but there was nothing that would really satisfy me. And I wanted everybody to be able to eat at the same location. If I'm your friend, most likely you are not vegetarian, which means I have to find someplace for you to eat and then go somewhere else to find someplace for me to eat. I wanted both people to be able to eat at the same place, and this is why we have not only vegetarian foods, but foods for everyone to enjoy," said Robinson.
Having enjoyed a vegetarian diet for 15 years, Robinson is also cognizant of the fact that most vegetarians are conscious about how their food is prepared and that there is no cross-contamination with meat products.
At Da Glass Kitchen, their food preparation is front and center. The minute you push open their old-fashioned screen door and step up to the counter your view is of the entire kitchen and what is going on. You can see chefs chopping cilantro, slicing mushrooms, dicing peppers and stirring a pot of curry chicken. And you will never see them cross contaminate ingredients for a vegetarian dish with a meat-eater's dish.
"We have an open kitchen, because someone like myself -- and most vegetarians I know -- are very particular about how our food is being prepared. We want to make sure there is no cross contamination at all, so people get to actually see their food and how it's being prepared," says the 38-year-old Robinson.
While everything on the menu she says is a must-have item and meat eaters would actually find themselves enjoying a veggie option if they gave it a chance, Da Glass Kitchen is famous for its burgers which Robinson says accounts for 90 percent of her sales. From delicious beef to a succulent, juicy turkey, veggie and a grilled chicken breast, there's a burger offering, hot off the grill, to suit every palate. Their wraps are also big sellers.
The health conscious Robinson offers healthier alternatives to all of her menu items. Fried foods do not show up anywhere on her menu. Her remedy for those persons that need French fries on the side of a burger is to offer sautéed garlic potatoes or a garden salad, or a curried veggie medley.
The daughter of Bahamian sporting legend Thomas Augustus Robinson and a Mexican mother, Robinson also "dips" her hat to her Mexican heritage as well with a few Mexican influences on her menu, like her fish omelette with Mexican salsa and tortillas.
"We offer foods that nobody else offers and that's what I think makes us unique. It's pretty much about our product, the way we view the customer, our customer service, our dedication to the preparation of the food, to the final product, and that's why I think I can truly say our final ingredient is love, because we love what we do."
For those people weighing the option of trying a vegetarian dish, her recommendation is to start with the scrambled tofu, which is flavorful due to the different herbs they use. It also has more of an egg consistency and is a dish meat eaters will identify with because visual is just as important as taste.
Robinson, who loves food, says she came across her cooking skills through observation and taking the time to read, watch and learn about foods, seasonings and herbs. For her cooking is the greatest entertainment -- more than music, art or books.
And her restaurant was named Da Glass Kitchen for two reasons, one being you can see right through the kitchen, but chiefly in honor of a woman by the name of Katie Glass who Robinson met when she shot a documentary with Maria Govan about HIV/AIDS six years ago. While shooting the documentary she learned that Glass has lived next door to Robinson's grandparents, Cyril H. and Willisie Isadora Robinson. Robinson had not known Glass (who has since passed) as a child.
"What was most significant for me about meeting her [Glass] was that she taught me so much about living in a glass house, what it is to not throw stones and what it is to not judge people. She was one of the most beautiful people I've ever met and just made some wrong decisions, and so the restaurant was named after her."
As the secret that is Da Glass Kitchen and its delicious food continues to circulate, Robinson's immediate goal is to expand the back of the takeaway so her patrons can enjoy outdoor dining.
And she's proud of the fact that her food is bringing people into Hawkins Hill, rather than her taking her operation to a more mainstream, commercial location.
"When we move the seating outside -- the backyard where I grew up, where I climbed the guinep tree and the avocado tree, where I picked the mangos and the hog plums, that's the backyard I want people to be able to come in and enjoy their lunch and breakfast, so it will be a cultural experience."
As much as she calls Da Glass Kitchen a takeaway, Robinson does have seating for at least 14 people between the few tables she has set up and the counter space, if you can find a space.
Starting from a one-man show, Da Glass Kitchen currently has a staff complement of six, including Robinson. She says her story is one of passion and the will to succeed.
"We started out with just me, and no one would walk in. I had more of a delivery service, and one stove and one refrigerator. I worked the kitchen. I was blessed to have a building, and now I've been able to expand, and more and more people know about us. Our logo is Da Glass Kitchen: Where our final ingredient is love, and that's what it's about for me."
Da Glass Kitchen operates out of what was Robinson's grandmother's old Tuck Shop called Tony's Dry Goods. Just being in the location where she is now at gives her pleasure, because it's where she grew up.
"My grandparents are such a strong influence, and have been such a strong influence on the entire family, and as the youngest grandchild, I spent a phenomenal amount of time with my grandparents, at the home and in this shop. So it's a very personal feeling for me to be here, knowing that they would approve, knowing that hard work is something they taught us from the very beginning, as well as my dad, because his whole story is about discipline, dedication, determination and desire -- the four D's, -- and he was always showing that to his kids. It was about teaching us that you have to work to get what you want and that is what [Da Glass Kitchen] is for me.
Da Glass Kitchen opens for breakfast at 7-ish, Thursday through Saturday -- and Robinson stresses the 'ish part, but she says they try not to open any later than 7:15 a.m. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 12 noon through 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday. She encourages telephone orders, especially for the lunch rush between 12 noon and 2 p.m. when she says it gets really crazy. The majority of their customers opt to telephone their order in and pick up.