Vet Reviewed

By The Farmer's Dog | May 17, 2024

The Farmer’s Dog makes its recipes from fresh meats and vegetables, using only facilities registered to produce human food—a stark contrast to most commercially available dog food. Our approach makes a big difference in the food’s nutritional value, digestibility, and safety. Here’s an overview of the differences between fresh dog food and kibble, and some of the details about how The Farmer’s Dog is raising the bar on pet food.

What is kibble?

In short, kibble is a dried pet-food product that’s subjected to a high-heat, high-pressure manufacturing process. It often includes palatants (substances intended to make the food smell and taste more appealing to dogs) and preservatives. 

Although kibble has been the most common type of dog food for years, there’s no reason that dogs need to eat this highly processed product for every meal of their lives.

Like most typical commercial pet food, kibble is usually made to the standard of animal “feed.” Animal feed is not subject to the same level of scrutiny, regulation, and rule-enforcement as human food. For example, pet food made to feed standards can include things not legally allowed in human food, like diseased meat—as long as these ingredients are subject to the high-heat process of “rendering.” The best example of a rendered product, and one that’s commonly found in kibble, is “meal”—listed on ingredient labels as “chicken meal,” “beef meal,” “meat meal,” and the like. 

Research has shown that a substantial number of typical kibble ingredient lists are inaccurate. Making dog food to human-grade standards—like The Farmer’s Dog does—is an assurance that you know what you’re putting in your dog’s bowl. Rendered products like “meals” aren’t allowed in human-food facilities.

Dog eating fresh food out of metal bowl.

What is fresh dog food?

Our food is made with fresh meats and vegetables that are lightly cooked so they retain their vital nutrients. The food is then quickly frozen for safe shipping. Because it’s not made with preservatives, you’ll need to store it in the freezer and defrost it in the refrigerator, just like you would with fresh food for yourself.

Not all fresh dog food is the same. The Farmer’s Dog recipes are human-grade—that means both the ingredients we use AND the facilities where our food is made meet the same safety and quality standards that apply to foods that people eat. All of our food is made in facilities registered to make human food. 

And we never use “meals”—our food is made from real muscle and organ meats. 

Is fresh the same thing as raw?

No. Raw food is, well, raw—completely uncooked. Our fresh food is cooked to eliminate harmful pathogens while retaining its nutritional value.

Is there science behind your fresh food?


Some people have the misperception that only kibble can be complete and balanced—meaning it contains the proper nutrition dogs need if they’re going to eat it regularly. In fact, every recipe from The Farmer’s Dog is formulated by board-certified nutritionists to meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards, and is safe for daily feeding. Our food satisfies the nutritional needs of dogs as soon as they’re weaned, and through their adult and senior years. It also meets World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines for selecting pet foods.

To sum it up: We’ve taken the years of robust nutrition research that went into making highly processed pet foods complete and balanced—and applied it to pre-portioned fresh food that meets the same safety standards as human food.

Dogs waiting for food in bowl on counter.

Okay, but does “human-grade” mean anything?

It means a lot!

As we’ve noted, human-grade dog food is made to the same rigorous safety and quality standards, and according to the same regulations, that apply to human food. 

Many pet-food descriptors—like “premium,” “super premium,” or “ancestral”—aren’t defined by AAFCO. They’re meaningless marketing terms, or “romance copy.” They do not convey anything specific about the ingredients in the food or how it was made.

”Human-grade,” on the other hand, is defined by AAFCO—and there are guidelines that govern its use on pet-food labels. Per AAFCO, the use of the term is only acceptable in reference to a pet-food product as a whole. The term specifies “that every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with 21 CFR part 117 (FDA rules governing human-food production) and those applicable federal human food laws as required by ingredient, process and/or facility type.”

While each of our recipes is a blend of human-grade meat and vegetables, it’s important to note that the human-grade standard doesn’t apply only to the ingredients in the food, but also to where and how the food is made. Per AAFCO’s guidelines, The Farmer’s Dog food is made in facilities licensed to produce human food, alongside food made for humans. Very few pet foods are made to this strict standard.

For a lot more detail, visit our page on the topic.

Why does The Farmer’s Dog food come pre-portioned?

Keeping dogs in an ideal body condition is proven to help them live longer lives—research has shown that lean dogs can live up to 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight. But, unfortunately, 59% of American dogs are overweight or obese.

One of the easiest ways to keep a dog in good body condition is to feed them the right amount of food for their individual caloric needs—something that’s hard to do with kibble, which is measured in cups corresponding to broad weight ranges. We determine dogs’ portions based on their age, weight, breed, activity level, and other factors, and deliver our food in pre-portioned packs. We can also make adjustments in consultation with customers and veterinarians. Pre-portioning makes it easier to help your dog stay in a healthy body condition, giving them the best shot at a longer, healthier life.

There is a major difference between fresh food and kibble

The bottom line is that fresh food is completely different from kibble, and offers real benefits for your dog’s health. Our food is made from human-grade meats and vegetables, to human-food standards, in facilities that also make food for people. It’s gently cooked to preserve its nutritional value. And it’s complete and balanced for dogs in every stage of life—from puppies to seniors.