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20140602 The Honest Kitchen Force

Product: The Honest Kitchen Force
Quantity: 2 lb. trial package
Price: $21.99 via THK online*
Ingredients (all dehydrated): Chicken, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, apples, organic alfalfa, organic kelp, honey, pumpkin, green beans, cabbage, bananas, papayas, basil, garlic, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate
Guaranteed analysis:

  • Protein, 24.0%
  • Crude Fat, Min 0.85%
  • Fiber, 6.5%
  • Moisture, 8.5%

Country of origin: Manufactured in the United States; ingredients sourced from various locales, no ingredients from China
Company information: The Honest Kitchen; 145, 14th Street; San Diego, CA 92101
Web Presence: TheHonestKitchen.com, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere

* Complimentary box received in exchange for our honest review. Please check out the bottom for details on a how to win a FREE trial box of THK!

In a long term relationship, one sometimes falls so deeply into familiar routines, questions start answering themselves. It’s hard to step outside that halcyon lull when everything just feels fine. And why should you want to? Steadiness, reliability, and that constant source of assurance can be exactly what makes any long term relationship so desirable.

But then one day, your old familiar partner walks through the door with a wild new hairstyle or decked out in a sharp new wardrobe, and you think…

Hot new packaging

Woah. Hot!!!

For it’s a mistake to equate stability with stasis, or a lack of change. The desire to package and present yourself anew can itself be endearing. So long as we’re not talking drastic measures like, say, face tattoos without prior notice, and all the intrinsically lovable traits remain intact, some element of surprise does wonders to keep a relationship fresh.

And that is how I feel about The Honest Kitchen’s new packaging, designed by Natalya Zahn, unveiled a few months ago and introduced via a lovely care package delivered straight to the doorstep at the House of Two Bows.

The Honest Kitchen care package

Inside was a wooden crate containing all kinds of literature reintroducing the brand and the product, including a lavishly photographed recipe book full of healthy dog- and human-friendly meals. Of immediate concern to the Bows was the box of Perfect Form, a digestive supplement that we sometimes use, and a trial size box of Force, the grain-free chicken recipe that is already a part of the Bows’ regular meals.

Goodies from THK

I’m cataloging the contents for full disclosure that yes, we did get free stuff from THK in exchange for our honest review. No other compensation was received. But the Bows’ and THK already go way back to July 2011, when we first started feeding it regularly. I had no idea back then that we would use THK products on a near-daily basis. Indeed, as sometimes happens in long-term relationships, we’ve come to take their products for granted. So the surprise package was a welcome invitation to recall why we fell in love in the first place.

THK meal  Untitled
  Today's bowl: two sardines (about 2-3 oz apiece) on a bed of #TheHonestKitchen Preference and raw scrambled egg (to mask the taste of the Comfortis hidden in the mix)20140509 Honest Kitchen Day 1

Some of the many ways we prepare THK: topped with raw chicken gizzards and hearts, mixed with shredded carrot and topped with raw chicken’s foot, topped with raw chicken liver and mixed with herbal skin and coat supplements, rounding out a meal of smallish raw chicken drumsticks, blended with raw ground turkey, topped with raw egg, with raw sardines and scrambled raw egg, with a hunk of raw chicken thigh

The new, two-pound trial size box is available in four dog-specific recipes (Force, Embark, Love, and Keen) and one cat-specific recipe (Prowl). Each box makes about eight pounds of food, which lasts about three to four weeks when fed for one of the two meals at the House of Two Bows. Thus, it’s a fitting amount for a proper food trial, both in terms of volume and time. The previous one and three-ounce packages only give a shallow impression, basically letting you know if your pet will bite… or not. To get a better idea of potential benefits, you gotta have enough to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the affair a bit.

So let me now take this opportunity to explain the top three reasons why I have stuck with The Honest Kitchen over the years:

  • They’re just my physical type. Of all the different types of dog food — kibble, canned, raw, rolled, etc. — I find this dehydrated form to be the most versatile and portable. Every recipe is fully balanced on its own, but I like to add extras to bump up protein content or just to spice things up (also very easy to hide medication, as necessary). Meanwhile, rehydration adds necessary moisture, and that can be adjusted too.
  • Ground turkey and Preference
    When switching formulas or countering mild digestive upsets, I add Perfect Form to the mix. Pictured is THK Preference (meatless base mix) with ground turkey, topped with Perfect Form before mixing.

  • They have a strong personality… insofar as one can speak of a company possessing a personality. I’m not referring to a cartoon mascot or hired spokesperson. I mean that the company visibly embraces specific food production values which overlap with lifestyle philosophies, all of which they forefront with abundant detail. Now, I don’t claim to be in complete alignment, but I feel like we’re on the same page on a lot of flashpoint issues inclusive of dogs and cats and also extending to matters of broader social import. There are too many examples to list here, but the thing is you don’t have to dig too deep to find out where the company stands on quality control, sustainable sourcing of ingredients (the tag “nothing from China” is even printed on the box), and even social issues like the balance between animal rescues and ethical breeding, etc.
    Honest Kitchen is clear about where all their ingredients are from, even if internationally sourced. All recipes are domestically manufactured in the US. Source: THK blog, http://www.thehonestkitchen.com/thk-blog/pet-food-with-no-ingredients-from-china/

    Honest Kitchen is clear about where all their ingredients are from, even if internationally sourced. All recipes are domestically manufactured in the US. Source: THK blog, http://www.thehonestkitchen.com/thk-blog/pet-food-with-no-ingredients-from-china/

  • Third, they know how to communicate. They’ve been pretty social media-savvy from the start, especially on Facebook. Not only do you know about it when they’re adjusting recipes, they even solicit feedback in the course of making product changes. There’s a lot more they do to maintain integrity with their customer base. Again, too many examples to list here, but suffice to say, their presence and outreach efforts befit their status as a 21st century pet food company, both in the office and on the product shelves.

You think you're lucky?

Finally, The Honest Kitchen is generously sponsoring a GIVEAWAY for one box of any of their 2-pound trial boxes:

  • FORCE, free range chicken (grain-free)
  • EMBARK, cage-free turkey (grain-free)
  • LOVE, Midwestern beef (grain-free)
  • KEEN, turkey with organic oats
  • PROWL, free-range chicken for CATS

That’s right! Cat owners are invited to participate, as well. The only rules are that 1) you are committed to a long-term relationship with your pet(s) — so please tell us who you’re entering for, 2) you reside in the continental United States, and 3) comment on this post simply stating which recipe you would like to try out.

Deadline is Wednesday, June 18th at 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time, at which point one winner will be randomly chosen to receive their preferred two-pound box; three runner-ups will be chosen to receive sample packets of THK Perfect Form, a digestive supplement suitable for both dogs and cats. Because I will be personally mailing out the packets of Perfect Form, “runner up” winners can be from anywhere in the world — so international participants are welcome to comment, though you’ll be ineligible for the main prize.

Have at it, and good luck!