Healthy Spot’s Co-Founder, Mark Boonnark, recently had the opportunity to tour Ziwi’s facilities in New Zealand. Mark arrived expecting a simple trip throughout the company’s offices, factories and farms, but left in awe of the beauty of the country and the spirit of the people that resonate within Ziwi’s culture and products. Here is Mark’s firsthand account in “tasting the life” of New Zealand with Ziwi.
To experience New Zealand is to really experience the spirit of the people of New Zealand. The beautifully preserved lands and oceans, unique culture, and traditions are deeply influenced by the country’s indigenous people, the Māori. The Māori hold a profound respect for nature and their descendants. They approach life as custodians of the land and put this perspective in place to protect and cultivate the land in order to pass this gift on to future generations. The people of New Zealand today highly value the Māori community, and you can see their history, language, and customs integrated into everyday life.
Along with the other visitors, I was welcomed through the traditional greeting ceremony called the Pōwhiri, which involved song, dance, and speech and ended in the exchange of the Hongi (their version of a handshake) between hosts and guests. The Hongi, the pressing of foreheads and noses, is meant to be the exchange of breath and soul. This soul is what I continued to experience in every moment of the trip forward, from the hospitality of our Ziwi hosts, the kindness of locals we met sightseeing, and the passion of the farmers and caretakers that Ziwi sources their ingredients from.
We started off with a boat tour and focused on Ziwi’s ocean ingredients. With the idea of being custodians of the land, Ziwi only uses ingredient sources with a focus on respect for the animals and preservation of the environment. Instead of commercial fisheries with man-made tanks and pools, Ziwi’s fish and mussels are raised directly in ocean environments that allow for minimal impact to nature. The fish are raised in net enclosures and the green lipped mussels are grown on buoyed ropes both directly in the open ocean. This not only allows the animals to live and grow as they naturally would, but also results in a healthier and higher quality ingredient.
Green-Lipped Mussels2 and the fish3 used in their recipes are all native to New Zealand. The mussels make up 3% of all Ziwi’s recipes and are a great natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, glycogens and omega 3 fatty acids, with proven ability to nutritionally support long-term joint health. The Hoki fish is a hypo-allergenic novel protein low in cholesterol and an excellent source of niacin and vitamin B12, while Blue Mackerel is rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and control the immune system.
As amazing as the ocean views were, what impressed me even more was the endless sight of green fields and rolling hills throughout the country. This was the backdrop for raising Ziwi lamb, cattle, venison, and chicken. (BTW, we are really excited that we will now be carrying their new Air-Dried Free-Range Chicken formula!). Commercial farming as we know in the US is nonexistent, everything was truly grass-fed and free-range. We had the chance to visit and speak to a few of Ziwi’s farmers and they all consistently voiced the sentiment of not over farming and depleting the land of its natural nutrients. The animals are rotated from paddock to paddock, allowing the grass and soil to naturally replenish. The uses of fertilization and irrigation by some of the larger corporate farms was frowned upon and seen as an abuse of the land. Beyond tree shelters, simple fences, and the farmers’ own homes, there was little to no signs of manmade buildings, barns, and factory farms as commonly seen in the US farming industry.
These practices have resulted in healthy, happy animals and some of the highest quality meats found in the world. New Zealand’s government has also set up strict regulations and policies exceeding other countries’ standards to provide products that are free from added hormones, antibiotics, and growth promotants. The MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) oversees these regulations and Ziwi products have achieved the highest level of MPI certification. There is a trust and assurance that Ziwi produces some of the healthiest foods available for our pets.
I have studied Ziwi’s culture, ingredients, and manufacturing, and have personally been incorporating Ziwi into my dogs’ diets since we started Healthy Spot 10 years ago. I was already a fan and despite the intimate knowledge of their practices and products, I was still blown away to see firsthand the passion, respect, and responsibility they have towards their country, its land and resources, and the products they ultimately produce. Not only do they work hard to be custodians of New Zealand, they work hard to be stewards for our pets and their health as well. This trip reaffirmed the importance of not only understanding ingredients, but also understanding who and where they come from. I was further inspired to continue working hard to bring great products like Ziwi to our customers and their pets. Healthy Spot is proud to call Ziwi a trusted partner in our mission to inspire healthy pet lifestyles! Check out their products at your local Healthy Spot today!