By The Farmer's Dog | June 8, 2022

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. Most pet food, even so-called “premium” kibble is made to animal “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” or fats).

Recipes from The Farmer’s Dog meet the same safety and quality standards that govern human food. That means they’re made with human-grade ingredients and cooked at a USDA-inspected facility that makes human food. 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 severely damages the food’s 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 a substantial number of kibble ingredient lists are inaccurate.

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 highly digestible, which means your dog’s body is absorbing and using the powerful nutrients. 

Cost/benefit: fresh vegetables vs… green bits?

The fresh-from-the-earth carrots and broccoli you see alongside the plump chicken breasts on most kibble labels simply don’t exist in that form in the bag. Any vegetables that might be in kibble recipes are subject to the high-heat process used to make those dried pellets, and the nutritional value reduced.  

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

One of the most important things you can do for your dog’s long-term health is to keep them at a healthy weight and lean body condition. Many dog owners may end up over-feeding kibble based on vague suggested portion sizes based on wide weight ranges that correspond to cups or scoops.  The result can be weight gain, a massive health threat to dogs. Research shows that being overweight can reduce a dog’s lifespan by two and a half years.

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. That makes weight achieving and maintaining your dog’s ideal weight easier. The benefits of weight maintenance pay off in reduced chances of ailments like arthritis—and, potentially, a longer, healthier life.   

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.