By The Farmer's Dog | January 20, 2023

Just as with quality, the price of dog food can vary widely. So what goes into those cost differences, and why is some kibble less expensive than fresh food?

The simple answer is that if kibble bags were full of the things depicted on their labels—fresh, juicy meat and just-picked vegetables—it likely wouldn’t be as cheap (and it wouldn’t really be kibble). 

Here’s why the “cheaper” option may not be the best value for you and your dog in the long run. 

Cost/benefit: health and safety standards

The Farmer’s Dog is a completely different kind of food than kibble. In fact, only one actually meets the standard of food! Most pet food, even so-called “premium” kibble is made to “feed” standards, which means it can be made with things that would be unfit and illegal to sell for human consumption (including so-called 4D meats—diseased, disabled, dying, and dead animals—as long as they are rendered at high heat into powdered “meals”).

Recipes from The Farmer’s Dog meet the legal standard of real food that anyone—people or animals—can safely eat, because they’re made with human-grade ingredients cooked at a USDA-inspected facility. Fresh, human-grade food is also lightly cooked to retain its powerful nutrients. Kibble, in contrast, is subject to multiple rounds of high-heat, high-pressure processing that strips food of nutrients and turns it into those dried pellets.

Cost/benefit: real meat vs meat “meals”

It’s common to see photos of juicy cuts of beef and chicken on kibble bags, but what’s inside is a whole other animal. Most kibble is made with “meal,” a powdered substance made when protein scraps rejected from human-food production (and worse—see above) go through a high-heat process called rendering. Studies have also shown that kibble often contains things not listed on the label at all.

The Farmer’s Dog recipes are made from human-grade meat, lightly cooked to retain its nutrients. This kind of real meat does typically cost more than dried powder and mystery scraps. But real, fresh meat is also proven to be more digestible, and delivers powerful nutrients in a form that your dog’s body can use. These compounds can safeguard against a host of ailments, and promote your dog’s long-term health.

Cost/benefit: fresh vegetables vs… green bits?

The fresh-from-the-earth carrots and broccoli you see alongside the plump chicken breasts on kibble labels simply can’t, and don’t, exist in the bag. Any vegetables that might be in kibble recipes are zapped into bits by the high-heat process used to make those dried pellets. 

Fresh food contains human-grade, whole vegetables. Because they’re lightly cooked, they retain their potent phytonutrients. They may add cost compared to kibble, but they may also contribute to your dog’s health. 

Cost/Benefit: precisely portioned packs vs a sack with a scoop

Many dog owners end up over-feeding kibble based on too-generous suggested portion sizes and imprecise “scoops.” The result can be weight gain, a massive health threat to dogs (and a costly one to dog owners—weight-related problems can cost dog owners $2000 a year). 

Fresh-food plans from The Farmer’s Dog are tailored to your dog’s unique needs, and the food is delivered to your door in pre-portioned packs—no guesstimating, no eyeballing, no ballparks. The benefits of weight maintenance pay off in reduced chances of ailments like arthritis and cancer. 

Real customer stories (and costs)

Lacey is a 3-year-old, 11-pound Yorkshire terrier. Her fresh food plan is $2.80 a day.

“Since I started feeding Lacey The Farmer’s Dog, her eyes are clearer, and I can tell she is more active. She attacks her food bowl, instead of walking away and turning up her nose.”— Lacey’s mom


Jack is a 7-year-old, 75-pound Labrador retriever mix. His fresh food plan is $10.39 a day.

“From the moment we got Jack we have always had problems with his food. We tried everything… Then, we found The Farmer’s Dog. He cannot get enough of the food… he is so so so happy, and his coat is so shiny, it’s gorgeous.” — Jack’s mom


Maxie Sue is a 6-year-old, 25-pound Shih Tzu. Frenchie is an 8-year-old, 25-pound border terrier. Their fresh food plan is $5.50 a day.

“Maxie Sue and Frenchie are both senior dogs, and they run and run on the beach daily. They have more energy and zest than we have seen in years since we started feeding them The Farmer’s Dog!” — Maxie Sue & Frenchie’s mom

Learn more about fresh food and build a plan for your dog.