Parrots need your voice
Near and dear to my heart is sprouting for my parrots. I started in 1998, and my birds have been getting sprouts almost every day since. A blend of sprouts serves several purposes: foraging fun, delicious and nutritious food, long bowl-life, and ease of preparing and serving.
Yes, I said easy preparing. Many people feel intimidated, and give up on the first few tries. I’m not saying it’s the easiest thing when first starting out, but just get past the first failures, and you’ll be a pro in no time. Not that I haven’t screwed up a few times along the way, but I just threw the bad batch away and started over. I feel the benefits of serving sprouts to your birds far out-weighs the difficulties in starting out, as well as the dangers of food-borne pathogens.
I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning linked to sprouts, because it’s a fact; however, like other raw foods, there’s always the possibility of food-borne contaminants. The problem usually rests in conventional farming, since it uses uncomposted manure for fertilizer. This is why I always recommend you start with US Department of Agriculture Certified Organic produce. According to the Government Printing Office:
“The [organic] producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. Animal and plant materials include:
(1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted….”
“Under USDA organic standards, manure must be subjected to proper thermophilic composting and allowed to reach a sterilizing temperature. If raw animal manure is used, 120 days must pass before the crop is harvested if the final product comes into direct contact with the soil. For products which do not come into direct contact with soil, 90 days must pass prior to harvest“(Wikipedia).
In a nutshell, the produce you buy to sprout should be certified organic and meant for human consumption. There are also risks involved, but this comes from unintentional introduction like in the Earthbound spinach contamination from a pig farm upstream. Consuming leafy greens and the handling of raw meats are a greater risks than sprouts (Huffington Post).
So, with that out of the way, let’s discuss the benefits of serving sprouts to your birds. First and foremost, they pack a huge nutritional punch for their size. Different sprouts, whether beans, grains, pulses, seeds, etc., contain different nutritional values, so here’s a general overview of their benefits:
(International Sprout Growers Association)
Another great thing about sprouts is that they are living. Most of the foods we serve to our birds is “dead.” What I mean is they’re picked from the plant, dormant, or cooked, and they are decaying every moment from the onset. Morning’s meal is stale, wilted and soured by the time you get home from work; however, sprouts are still living and growing for hours after being served to your birds. This is an asset to all of us who have to earn a living to put food in the bowls.
Sprouts are also an easier way of converting a seed junkie. I started out sprouting organic sunflower seeds in the shell, and I haven’t had a parrot go through my house who didn’t relish these. Once they start on sunflower sprouts, they start eating other sprouts. Here’s a short list of some of the things you can sprout:
garbanzo beans/chick peas
Now that you have the whys of sprouting, go to Part 2 of Just Sprout It! for the how-to.