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Should Parrot Food Be Organic?

What passes through your bird's beak is important! That's probably why you're wondering if you should be switching to a more organic parrot food. It's a topic worth bringing into the conversation. If you are working on the particulars of creating an optimized diet for your pet bird. No, it's not "spoiling" your bird to want to provide the best, most nutritious options available. It should ruffle your feathers a bit to think about what might be lurking in some non-organic bird foods.   The reality is that you should be looking at your bird's diet the same way you look at your own diet. After all, the goal of creating a "menu plan" for your parrot is to foster health, happiness, and longevity for your treasured companion. It might make sense to you that organic food is beneficial for birds. However, you may still be interested in digging into the how and why of the matter before you finalize a parrot diet plan in your home. Let's dive into why quality ingredients are what allow a bird's health to really take flight!  

Why Organic in Parrot Food Matters

Choosing organic food for your bird isn't a matter of being "fancy" or "picky" with your buying choices. It's really a matter of understanding how and why some, not all, food choices can actually be harmful to the health of your bird. Unfortunately, some real dangers could be hidden in low-quality bird foods that don't use organic ingredients. Here's a look at some of the causes for concern that are often found in non-organic foods:
  • Pesticides
  • Insecticides
  • Herbicides
  • Fungicides
  • Artificial preservatives

According to the Audubon Society, 67 million birds in the wild are killed by pesticides annually. This establishes the very troubling reality that birds are highly susceptible to pesticides. The unfortunate irony is that many of the sprayed crops that cause the deaths of wild birds are then used in bird food and seed mixes intended for both wild and pet birds. In fact, most popular pesticides that are used in agricultural settings today are designed specifically to keep birds at bay because birds are viewed as one of the most common threats to crops. The outcome may not be as sudden or dramatic once crops have been processed and turned into pet-food ingredients. However, the reality remains that we're still feeding our birds trace amounts of the same chemicals that overwhelm the systems of millions of birds in the wild annually.  

A Cautionary Tale About Bird Diets

What a bird eats has a very direct and immediate impact on its health. According to a detailed article published by National Geographic, a huge decline in songbirds in the wild has been linked to the use of common insecticides. Researchers found that songbirds that consumed seeds treated with harmful insecticides experienced severe weight loss that dramatically decreased their ability to thrive. National Geographic also details how similar findings have been made when studying the impact of foods laced with insecticides on birds in captivity.  

The Glyphosate Problem in Parrot Food

There's a long list of harmful chemicals that are used on various crops around the world. However, one especially troubling herbicide that you're bound to run into when sourcing foods for your pet bird is called glyphosate. Let's talk about why you should at least be informed about the use of glyphosate in crops that are commonly used in bird food even if you ultimately decide to skip going organic.   Glyphosate is heavily used on corn crops. There's a very good chance that any non-organic bird food that you purchase will contain corn that was grown with the use of glyphosate. According to the American Bird Conservancy, close to 100 percent of corn on the market is treated with potentially harmful insecticides and herbicides.   Why is this potentially problematic? First, there's a lot that we don't know about the long-term effects of glyphosate and other treatments. Most of what we do know has to do with research conducted on the impact of glyphosate on human health. It's notable that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as being “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015. Corn isn't the only crop that is commonly grown with glyphosate. Here's a rundown of the ingredients commonly found in bird food that can be assumed to have been grown with glyphosate when not sold under an organic label:
  • Oats and grains
  • Almonds
  • Beetroot
  • Quinoa

It's very important to purchase bird food containing these ingredients from organic sources if you're a health-minded bird owner. Findings from the American Bird Conservancy report that a single corn kernel coated with harmful pesticides can kill a songbird. What's more, the American Bird Conservancy reports that even a single grain of wheat treated with certain pesticides can poison a bird. There's also the issue that low-level exposure to pesticides can impact a bird in ways like egg-shell thinning and loss of muscle coordination.  

What Are the Best Organic Foods to Give to Parrots?

The list above of the four ingredients that should only be given to your bird when sourced from organic, non-GMO sellers should serve as the baseline for putting together a health-focused menu for your bird. The good news is that it's pretty simple to whip up an organic parrot diet for your bird. That's because you can simply choose to rely on an organic mix that sources and combines organic or non-GMO ingredients for you while allowing you to offer the nutritional variety and balance your bird needs and craves. Start with a Bird Street Bistro sample pack to discover which variety your bird finds to be the most irresistible! We never use fillers, additives, sulfites, preservatives, artificial colors, sugars, salt, or artificial flavorings in any of our tasty mixes! What about when you're giving your bird fresh fruits and vegetables? We know that there are some fruits and vegetables that make the list for the worst offenders in terms of pesticide residue. Here's the list of the "dirtiest" produce from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes

It's probably in the best interest of your bird that you only purchase these fruits and vegetables when they have organic labels. Of course, it's going to be important to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables that you provide to your bird before serving them. This will help to rinse away any pesticide residue or bacteria that could be harmful to your feathered friend. Generally, "fleshy" or porous fruits and vegetables can absorb chemicals and bacteria slightly easier than fruits and vegetables with hard skins. You may want to consider soaking fruits and vegetables for as long as possible before feeding them to your bird. It is also worth considering peeling skins off of fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your bird.  

Why Bird Street Bistro Is Looking Out for Your Parrot’s Health

At Bird Street Bistro, sourcing wholesome, organic or non-GMO parrot food is never a hassle! We'll never quiet our beaks when it comes to talking about the importance of providing parrots with the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy! We offer a full line of tasty and nutritious foods that contain organic or non-GMO ingredients. We go above and beyond to ensure that our customers can pamper their birds with exotic delights and classic favorites that domesticated birds go wild for! Our mixes provide complete nutrition and healthy benefits for birds that simply can't be found in alternatives like all-seed mixes or parrot pellets. What delicious meals have you prepared for your feathered kid recently? We love to hear from our flock, let us know!