Phoenix Foraging Rolls, LLC
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Comparison of overall nutritional losses incurred in food preservation:

·Canning - 60-80% High loss is due to high temperatures and foods immersed in water during period of preparation.

·Frozen - 40-60% Moisture expands when frozen, causing food cells to rupture.

·Dehydrated - 3-5% Due to low heat during the drying cycle and the gentle air flow, this translates to minimal loss. When water is removed, dehydrated foods decrease in weight but the nutritional value goes up, so they actually have more nutrients per ounce. Dehydrated foods can be left out during the day when you are away or put in hiding places for your parrot to find without worrying about spoiling quickly like fresh food will. 

We keep some nutrition information on this page, but most of our nutrition articles from past newsletters and other sources are on our blog. To go to the blog, look in the upper left hand corner of this page. There you will see a link that says "blog." 


Here are some common ingredients we have found in some of the popular brands of pellets:

Soy protein isolate or isolated soy protein- this may sound good, we think of soy as being nutritious like tofu or edamame. But soy protein isolate is a highly processed food added to other processed foods for flavor. In the processing of the soy beans, one of the byproducts that is in the soy protein isolate is MSG, which causes many health problems in some people.

Yeast extract- this is another natural sounding additive that is commonly used to enhance flavors. There is also some MSG produced as the by product of making this product. 

Natural flavoring- again, this sounds good. It’s natural right? Here are some natural ingredients commonly found in food products: sugar, MSG. Manufacturers buy proprietary blends called “natural flavoring” in which other ingredients they don’t want us to know about are hidden. If you call to ask what is in their natural flavoring they won’t tell you. You can, however, ask about specific ingredients if you have a health issue with them. You can say “is there any MSG or other similar product involving glutamates in your natural flavoring?” and they will generally tell you.

Vitamins and minerals added- if this was a wholesome, nutrient rich food, they wouldn’t have to add vitamins and minerals. This is usually done when they are using cheap ingredients or ingredients that have been so highly processed that the vitamins and minerals have been removed in the process.

Ethoxyquin: This is listed and identified as a harsh hazardous chemical by OSHA. It was originally used to preserve rubber. and is not allowed in human food.  The FDA has asked manufacturers for voluntary reduction in its use in pet foods and is in the process of deciding whether or not to ban the use of it altogether. Bird’s bodies can not get rid of it like a dog or cat and it then builds up and causes problems. Ethoxyquin promotes kidney cancers, significantly increases the incidence of stomach tumors, and bladder cancers.

Artificial Colors: There is concern about artificial colors from coal tar derivatives such as Red #40, a possible carcinogen, and Yellow #6, which causes sensitivity to fatal viruses in animals. In eclectus parrots, artificial colorings also sometimes contribute to toe tapping and wing flipping.

BHT/BHA: These petroleum products are used to stabilize fats in foods. In the process of metabolizing BHA and BHT, chemical changes occur in the body. These can cause health problems in some people and pets. They are banned in some European countries.

Propylene Glycol: Used as a de-icing fluid for airplanes, this chemical is added to food and skin products to maintain texture and moisture as well as inhibiting bacteria growth in products. It also inhibits the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive system by decreasing the amount of moisture in the intestinal tract leading to constipation and cancer. It can affect the liver and kidneys and causes the destruction of red blood cells.

Salt: Added as a preservative, salt can irritate the stomach lining, cause increased thirst and aggravate heart and kidney problems through fluid retention.  In the wild, bird eat very small amounts of salt but should not be eating much of it.

Sodium Nitrite: Used in the curing of meats, this substance participates in a chemical reaction in the body that becomes carcinogenic.

Sugar and other Sweeteners: The most common sweeteners in pet/bird foods are beet sugar, corn sugar, molasses and sucrose. They require almost no digestion and are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. These will provide sugar highs (just as humans experience) and subsequent lows (moodiness), inhibit the proper growth of friendly intestinal bacteria. Refined sugar can also contribute to diabetes and hypoglycemia, cataract development, obesity and arthritis.

"No sugar added." They may say this but what does it really mean? No processed sugars (but they have honey, molasses, other sweeteners)

Wheat, barley, kamut, rye, spelt are glutinous grains.  Most parrots don't have any problem with these grains but they would not be likely to be eating glutinous grains as part of a wild diet, unless they are raiding a farmer's crops. 

Corn- most corn sold today is bred for a high sugar content.  Much of it is also genetically modified. Corn isn't necessarily a bad food, it is just another inexpensive food that manufacturers add that is probably not the most nutritious food you can feed your parrots.


Here is a link where you can look up what food additives are:







Here you see Gorbash eating a foraging roll.  He has torn it open and is now eating the filling.  We find that sometimes parrots who wouldn't eat the exact same ingredients if you put it in their bowl as loose ingredients will eat them in a roll. When they work to tear something open, it seems to make it more desirable,  like a child opening a present. 

    Our philosophy about parrot nutrition:

    We believe that not enough is known about the nutritional needs of parrots and no company should make the claim that they are providing a “complete diet” for a bird in one bag. More is known about species that have been kept in captivity and bred for more generations, such as budgies. We also don’t totally agree with the idea that food should be chopped up so much as to be unrecognizable or hidden in birdie bread to make them eat things we think are good for them but they won’t eat otherwise. This may be a good plan for a bird that has been raised on a very limited diet as a start to get them to vary their choices and expand their taste horizons. However, in the wild, with some exceptions of very specialized feeders, parrots pick and choose what to eat each day. There is evidence from research that wild animals choose food seasonally to help with certain seasonal weather or breeding times of year. They also sometimes choose food to neutralize certain toxins they may eat or to help them get well when they are sick. So we want our parrots to have a variety of healthy food to pick from.

    In our Unpellet, we put the smaller ingredients that would end up falling to the bottom of a bowl and getting uneaten in the “Green Chunks.” This includes the nutritious alfalfa and dandelion greens as well as the oils and small grains and seeds. All birds that have sampled this so far love these green chunks. Other larger ingredients are left whole or in large enough pieces that your bird will get a wide variety of tastes, colors and textures. They may eat more of certain things on some days than others. You may wish to recycle what they don’t eat one day into birdie bread or put it on top of their fresh food the next day. Or you may decide that they are eating enough and what they aren’t eating may be left for a reason.


    Most of pellets are made with a machine called an extruder.  Extruders need a certain consistency to work, so this is part of what determines what ingredients go into the product. The dough is fed into the machine. It is subjected to steam and high pressure as it is pushed through dies that determine the shape of the final product similar to the nozzles used in cake decorating. As the hot, pressurized dough exits the extruder, it is cut by a set of rapidly whirling knives into tiny pieces. As the dough reaches normal air pressure, it expands or “puffs” into its final shape. The food is allowed to dry, and then is usually sprayed with fat, digests, or other compounds to make it taste better.

    Although cooking kills bacteria in the ingredients, the final product can pick up more bacteria during the drying, coating, and packaging process. Some experts warn that getting dry extruded food wet can allow the bacteria on the surface to multiply and make pets sick. A few pet foods are baked at high temperatures (over 500°F) rather than extruded. It is relatively palatable without the sprayed-on fats and other enhancers needed on extruded dry food.

    Our products are neither extruded or baked at high temperatures.  The reason, for example, that our Green Chunks are not even sizes and shapes is that they are dried on low temperatures (115) in a dehydrator and then broken into pieces.  We believe that using lower temperatures and limited processing brings you a more natural and nutritious food for your parrot.



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