ZIGGY (the emperor parrot) & GEORGE (his companion human)





Ziggy is addicted to the dry roasted pistachios made by a company called Everybody's Nuts®.  They have a roasted, no-salt variety that is perfect for both of us.  It's hard to find no-salt pistachios even at Whole Foods, but Everybody's Nuts® makes seven ounce packages of them.  If you can't find the no-salt version, ask your grocer for UPC 0 14113 80011 2.   They may have stopped making it, though; I haven't found any lately, and they do not answer my email queries. I did contact them several years ago with the suggestion that they try marketing that specific product to bird stores, but the idea of increasing their sales did not appeal to them. 
Kozy Shack® makes great "no sugar added" rice and tapioca puddings in individual serving 4-packs.  They do contain sucralose, so some people will scream and yell about that, but you want to avoid too much sugar in your bird's diet--and your own.  Sugar can cause more problems than just simple obesity in parrots and humans alike; parrots can actually become diabetic.  I do have some concerns about sucralose, but I don't object to an occasional small amount.
Ziggy does has a sweet beak; he demands a snack before bedtime, so sometimes we will have a before-bed snack of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding.  Although it's not made from lactose-free milk, there's not enough lactose present in a couple of bites to upset his digestive system.  I usually stir in a little powdered acidophilus or a bird-specific probiotic mix; either one is good for both of us.  I used to put Ornabac® in his food, but since Ornabac consists of large granules, I wasn't sure if he was actually consuming any.  By stirring in a powder, I know that at least a little will be getting into his system. 
The Kozy Shack product is great if you have to give your bird a little medicine:  just mix the medicine in with the pudding. The UPC for the tapioca 4-pack is 0 73491 09300 4.

I never understood why fruitcakes have been the butt of so many jokes.  It is apparently "understood" that many people won't eat them.  Properly prepared fruitcakes are not only tasty, but at least semi-nutritious.  As with most processed foods these days, it's almost impossible to find any without partly hydrogenated oils.  If somebody were to give me such a fruitcake, I would have trouble figuring out what to do with it:  I couldn't eat it, but I would feel guilty about giving it away to another human being.  I guess that I would consider giving it to the outside birds, because their life spans are generally too short to be materially affected by bad fats.
Trans-fat free fruitcakes can be obtained from Assumption Abbey Bakery. (If you know of any others, please email me.)  These are made by Trappist monks at their monastery in the Ozarks, and are available by phone (1-888-738-0117), mail order and internet.  Their product is made with common candied fruit--i.e., it contains sulfites and artificial color--but I will tolerate that evil on occasion.  They do use non-whole grain wheat as well as, gasp, actual butter.  Whole Foods has a fruitcake seasonally, but, unlike health food stores, they do not use whole grain flour either.  Their version of fruitcake is bizarre; it reminds me of what someone who had never eaten fruitcake would come up with to try and make on the spur of the moment.  It's more like angel food than fruitcake, and could benefit from having some rum or other spirits drizzled over it. (See http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=219697008054839.)

They're not so evil after all.  If you are going to eat eggs, at least choose the ones high in omega-3s.  Some brands, like Eggland's Best®, advertise 100 mg or more of omega-3 per egg.  The nice thing about Eggland's Best® is that each egg has a little red EB stamp so you know that the eggs haven't been swapped out by an unscrupulous shopper or a store employee replacing a cracked egg.  I've seen people do that in stores. 

There exist "good" eggs that are even more nutritious, though, such as those distributed by Country Creek Farms (called Great Day® Omega-3), with 350 mg of omega-3 fats per serving.  Country Creek also offers "cage free" large brown eggs with 100 mg of omega-3s. The ideal product would be cage-free, guaranteed humane raised, and with all the extra nutrients (some even list higher amounts of lutein, for instance.) There seems to be a lot of hype when it comes to egg marketing about what "cage-free" means--it seems to depend on the particular producer. I haven't sorted through it all, but I do try to buy eggs that are more nutritious and are from chickens that haven't been forced to spend all their lives in tiny little cages.


I've been a dairy freak all my life.  I never looked forward to having to drink low-fat milk.  When I was little, dairies were proud of the butterfat content of their milk.  The best milk was guaranteed to have not less than 4% butterfat, and it was good.  My arteries are probably not less than 4% butterfat after decades of that kind of diet.

Thank heaven for the invention of lactose-free milk (LFM).  LFM makes it easier to reduce the butterfat in your diet if, like me, you refuse to eliminate it completely.  LFM is much sweeter than regular milk; the extra sweetness helps compensate for some of the flavor lost when you switch to lower-fat milk.

The way I started using LFM was not because of its sweetness, but because of its shelf life. (See my article FIFO NO MORE.)  I hate running out of milk and having to bebop over to the store just for milk.   LFM is ultra-pasteurized, which means that it lasts for 6 weeks or longer in the fridge, so you can stock up.  It has been several years since I've run out of milk.

Studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of milk (or certain milk components) on raising the body’s glutathione level are too numerous to list here. Whey protein, and more specialized extracts, such as Immunocal®, are often touted for their supposed anti-cancer benefits, one of the main reasons apparently being the fact that they raise the body’s level of glutathione. The presence of abundant amounts of the complex protein lactoferrin doesn’t hurt either. Health food stores stock a number of different colostrum products, such as that by Symbiotics, which makes “Colostrum Plus®.” A newer milk product, bioactive sweet whey extract (BSWE), is a newer bandwagon substance found it milk, and is touted for treating psoriasis. Without hopping on any bandwagons and making outrageous claims, I think that I can safely say that it’s good for you.

Note:  We all know that parrots like milk, but we also "know" that they are not supposed to have it, because of its milkfat AND because birds cannot digest lactose.  Logic would dictate that LFM should be a safe substitute, but some bird professionals and even a few vets have gotten the mistaken idea that LFM is deadly to birds.

The only thing added to milk to make it lactose-free is the enzyme lactase, which breaks lactose down into its constituent simple sugars, glucose and galactose.  LFM tastes much sweeter (and much better) than regular milk because all the sugars, instead of being bound as the not-so-sweet complex sugar, lactose, are now present as twice the number of molecules of simple sugars.  If glucose were a poison, we would all be dead, along with our birds. (It isn't a good idea to have a lot of it in your diet, though.) 

Galactose is a different issue. There have been reports that large amounts of galactose is toxic to birds. However, small amounts seem to actually be beneficial, according to a study of broilers by University of Illinois researchers. And the amount required to produce toxicity is huge: "Our results indicate that dietary levels of 10 to 15% GAL are toxic. In contrast, our results suggest that low levels of GAL, LAC or a new prebiotic-type product, Grobiotic-B70, may improve growth of commercial broiler chicks."

As far as galactose is concerned, unless your bird has a metabolic defect and is unable to metabolize galactose, LFM is safe. A few milliliters of it are not going to harm your bird. I measured the amount that Ziggy drinks per gulp, and, by weighing the cup before and after he drinks, and averaging a number of such measurements, I estimate that his average beakful is about one ml, so he drinks about 5 ml a day, sometimes throwing in a little extra for good measure, but I mix it with almond milk, coconut milk, flax milk or rice milk. Using Good Karma Flax Milk (unsweetened), and original Rice Dream, along with some lowfat LFM, you can get a healthy mixture, with less sodium than regular milk. Those particular flax and rice varieties have only 80 mg of sodium per cup, and don't have absurdly high levels of calcium either. It takes a while, but you can get used to it.
The enzyme lactase that’s present in LFM is also used in the dairy industry to make ice cream and various fermented milk products.  It’s used to make a reduced-lactose milk as a treat for cats, and is finally available as a dietary supplement so that lactose-intolerant individuals may consume dairy products without discomfort.
A better choice for you AND your bird, especially if your bird HAS to "share," would be to use a rice-based beverage like Rice Dream®.  Rice Dream® is milk-like and has excellent flavor, but after drinking it, I get the sensation of not having swallowed anything:  it lacks "body."  To correct this, mix it with reduced fat LFM.  You will end up with a very low fat beverage that actually tastes good, and has the additional benefit of not being too high in dietary protein (you have to watch the protein load on your bird's kidneys.) Even better is LFM from Smart Balance™: it has the milkfat removed but adds in omega-3 fats; their label states that it tastes "rich and creamy," which is a little bit of a stretch, but, mixed with some LFM that contains actual butterfat, it tastes good. But just as tempting is the Good Karma flax milk I mentioned above: the oils in flax are overwhelmingly omega 3, so that flax “milk” can be quite nutritious. The Good Karma label advertises 1200 mg of alpha-linolenic (ALA) per serving, along with 345 mg of linoleic acid and 385 mg of the omega-9 oil, oleic acid.
Excess calcium, though, can be toxic over time (remember the concept of balance.) I have had a highly qualified vet tell me that, in the amounts that Ziggy consumes, this is not a concern, and, since our avian species are often low in vitamin D, the LFM consumption may help keep that from occurring. On the other hand, I have also seen vets who believe that it will lead to kidney disease, and one well-known vet warned me that it "dilutes down the consumption of the balanced diet which is not good." I find it extremely difficult to believe that 5 or 10 ml of milk a day is going to harm a one pound parrot, especially when it is diluted with the other milk substitutes (flax, almond, and/or rice "milks"). Parrots are notorious for being deficient in calcium, yet, at the same time, I have been giving them cuttlebone after cuttlebone, year after year, worrying, not about its calcium content, which is tremendous, but rather about them swallowing and being injured by a fragment of the hard shell. Because of that possibility, I manually remove the hard shell before giving it to the bird (I use a thick paring knife; it’s a little bit of a hassle to do it without fragmenting the cuttlebone itself.)

I love most of the incarnations of liver, but I don't like the idea of sodium nitrite in my food.  There's no law against cooking liver, and I do frequently, but sometimes you have to treat yourself.  I had a good excuse recently after gum surgery to treat myself to several pounds of the most delicious nitrite-free commercial liver product I have ever tasted: mousse supreme made by Fabrique Délices. At about $20+ a pound, it isn't something you can have everyday, but it is well worth the cost. Fabrique Délices offers other mousse products and gourmet items.

The mousse supreme contains goose and chicken liver.  I can't shake the unscientific idea that if you have a physiological problem with a particular organ, it might be a good idea to include that particular organ meat in one's diet, and, having had liver problems for almost 50 years, I always try to include liver in my diet. The main reason, though, is that I grew up being taught that one "had" to eat liver of some sort at least once a week; to me as a child, it seemed to be almost a law of nature. And chicken livers actually taste good, unlike calves liver, about which I dare not comment, in case anyone underage might accidentally be reading this. It makes a little bit of sense that, since there are chemical differences in the composition of different organs, by eating a particular kind of organ meat, you might be supplying your body with more of whatever those particular compounds are that are most used by that particular organ.

Pomegranate is available as frozen arils, but they are not as good as the ones you and I get out of fresh pomegranates at home. You can freeze them yourself. The edible "things" inside the pomegranate are called arils; they are tiny seeds, each inside a juice sac. You peel the pomegranate, carefully remove the arils, rinse several times, remove all the extraneous plant material, then let them soak for a few minutes in in a dilute bleach solution. Rinse again several times, then let them soak in water a while longer, then air dry the arils on a few layers of paper towels. This way, they will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week or longer without molding.
(This is more hassle than any fruit that I know of, but, taste-wise and nutrition-wise, it's well worth it. Ziggy and I go through about one large pomegranate every 5 to 7 days when they're in season. There's hardly a healthier food in the world; there have been reports that pomegranate can even help reverse arteriosclerosis. Fresh fruit and veggies will help keep you and your bird healthy--just as your mother told you when you were little!)

Puritan's Pride's selection is underwhelming, but what they do carry is usually cheaper than anywhere else, as long as you wait for the "buy 2 get 3 free" sale.  Independent laboratory analysis generally gives them good marks for labeling accuracy.  One gripe I have with Puritan's Pride is that during the ordering process, if you are ordering the 2 with 3 "free" deal, a popup window will appear asking if you wouldn't rather buy 3 and get 4 free, which, of course, you would have to be an idiot to accept since it is a much worse deal.  I can't help wondering if they don't keep a special list of customers who accept their "special" offer so they can offer them other "special" deals, like deeds to bridges in Brooklyn.
If you need low prices and a large assortment of products from multiple vendors, look no further than iHerb.com, which claims to carry more than 12,000 natural products.  They carry a number of hard-to-find items.  For bulk raw herbs, kalyx.com  is a reliable source.


Earth Balance is a good choice.  I no longer use Smart Balance® as a spread, because it contains so much water, as well as soybean oil--and too much sodium--but if necessary I would fall back on it.  Smart Balance® is certainly to be commended for their healthy offerings: they make a low-sodium, no trans-fat microwave popcorn, as well as mayonnaise and peanut butter with no trans fats.  They offer a money-back guarantee if you don't love the taste of their products.  Some of their name-brand competitors are now jumping on the no-trans fat bandwagon and are removing the partly-hydrogenated oils with which they have been poisoning us for years, but for many years, the only mainstream choice was Smart Balance.

Why use artificial butter flavor when you can use the real thing without the fat? Butter Buds® contain real butter flavor and, unlike Molly McButter®, do not contain even a trace of partly hydrogenated fat. Yes, there are 120 mg of sodium per teaspoon, but when you don't use table salt, that's not much to worry about.
Low-fat cheeses have characteristically been devoid of flavor. Cabot and Sargento, though, make delicious low-fat cheeses. Sargento's low-fat Swiss is almost unique in the cheese world in that it is low in fat AND sodium, which, strangely enough, they don't advertise. It's a wonderful snack straight out of the package, perfect for midnight snacking.  Low-fat Cabot cheeses are often available at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart.  Two varieties of cheese you ought to consider for their low sodium content is Amish Swiss, carried by Kroger, at 50 mg per serving (I'm not sure whether it's really Amish, or if that is just the name of it), and Emmentaler, which has about 60 mg per serving, depending on the brand.  Those are less than a third of the sodium content of typical cheeses, and, as an added bonus, they taste good.




Ziggy had a typical companion parrot background:  approach him with a bag of any kind of chips, and then ask him if he knows what it is.  His response will be, "yum yum good."  We should all know that fast food snacks are almost inevitably too high in sodium and fat, which is not good for you or your bird, but too many owners give in to the temptation of fast food snacks.
"Healthy chips" may be an oxymoron, but, if you have to give in to evil, you can at least try to find a lesser evil.  These days, you don't have to go to a "health" food store for healthier options.  Even Frito-Lay has eliminated trans-fat from some chips--but be warned, "no trans fat" does not always mean "zero" trans fat.  In the snack food world, lower overall fat usually means more sodium, and "baked" can often be translated as "tastes like cardboard."
Don't poison your bird with salt!

Here is a special thank-you to SENECA for making several flavors of apple chips with NO added salt (shock!).  AND they're delicious, for only about 99 cents for a 3 ounce package.  They are a little hard to find; only a few grocery stores carry them.  If you can't find them, you can buy them online by the case (don't worry about getting too much; they're addictive, especially the cinnammon flavored ones!) The downside is that they do contain fat--7 gm per serving, but that's still less than regular chips and it's not unhealthy--canola and/or sunflower oil.
Another good company is Hain, which makes Terra chips. Their original chips contain a "seasonal mix of root vegetables," including taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata and parsnip, and contain only 35 mg of sodium per serving.  Click here to visit their website.  They have a new line of genuinely low-sodium chips that seem to be bird-safe:  the Hickory BBQ flavor sports an unbelievably meager 5 mg of sodium per serving (UPC 7 28229 01337 2), and they also have some sweet potato chips with NO sodium. Another healthy chip would be no-salt blue corn chips made by Garden of Eatin'. The pigments responsible for the blue color are healthy, although anything corn related seems to be getting deprecated these days. A little bit isn't going to kill you. It's what your stomach
"sees"--the totality of what you put into it--that matters.

If you live in a city with a large Oriental population, it pays to check out Oriental supermarkets.  Not only can you get out of the rut of whatever you've been eating, you can save money.  I have in my lap right now a package of "Minh Phat Food" from Vietnam; it consists of jackfruit, sweet potato, taro, banana, and pineapple chips fried in corn oil, with no added salt.  It costs about half as much as a similar item at a health food store--and it's delicious!
Import stores can give you MUCH better deals than vitamin shops on some items: pomegranate juice concentrate regularly sells for $15 to $20 for 16 oz., but I have found import stores selling 10 oz jars for only $2.59.  Another example: instead of buying supplements with sesame lignans added--a recent innovation intended to enhance the effectiveness of E-complex vitamins--you can get a pound of pure toasted sesame paste for only about $2.89.  Serendipitously, it also tastes good, similar to peanut butter, and makes a fine "secret ingredient" for omelets and casseroles.


Coconut milk is delicious, and is a necessary ingredient of curry. Canned coconut milk is yucky, and getting the necessary amount of coconut milk out of real coconuts would be a mess as well as a time-consuming hassle, but I found a way to cheat recently at an oriental supermarket: coconut milk powder or coconut cream powder.  The one in the picture contains added glucose, but I needed to have a picture, so I used it.  There are others: one from Thailand (I can't tell if it's Chaudoc or Chandoc) has only dextrin added (upc 080736 104852), and one from Malaysia, Rasaku brand (upc 715685 151069),  has only hydrolyzed starch and milk protein added. There's not much difference between glucose and dextrin and hydrolyzed starch:  it's not good for you, but a little won't hurt, and it certainly tastes better than the canned stuff.  I have actually seen half-gallons of "coconut milk" at a few stores, like Central Market, but I have not evaluated it yet.
I know, I know, there's a lot of saturated fat in coconut milk, but you're not going to drop dead from it if you have a little bit of it. And it makes good curry. I made the mistake of letting Ziggy taste the coconut milk powder once, and now I can't let him see it without him begging for some.

Abundant epidemiological evidence correlates curry consumption to a lower incidence of certain cancers, apparently due, at least in part, to the curcumin in the spice turmeric. Curcumin has other beneficial effects; it's good for the liver. There are numerous brands of prepared curry pastes and mixes in the import section of large supermarkets, but be careful of the sodium content--it varies widely, and sometimes is off the scale. 

Almost all major brands of frozen, prepared potato products contain partly hydrogenated fats. The only safe level of such fat in you or your parrot's diet is zero, so read the product labels before you buy!

There is no law against buying potatoes in the produce section and zapping them in the microwave, and if you do that, you start out with zero sodium and zero fat. But if you insist on convenience, at least buy a brand low in salt and with no partly hydrogenated oils. Alexia®, for example, does contain salt, but the sodium and potassium are balanced, and the sodium level is not as bad as most fast foods. The oils in Alexia are heart healthy, with only about 3 gm per serving, and no trace of trans-fats.
Alexia's Oven Reds make a great addition to a dinner omelet: just zap a saucer full in the microwave for a minute, then cut up the slices, add to the egg mixture, and cook. Don't add salt--let the omelet leech the sodium out of the potatoes. If you put in enough green chili peppers, even the most ardent sodium addict will not notice that your creation is low in sodium.
I have also seen products by McCain's, such as tasty sweet potato fries with no hydrogenated oils (available at Kroger.) Try McCain's Sweet Potato Straight Cut Fries, with only 3 gm of fat per serving and more potassium than sodium. Ziggy enjoys them. (UPC 0 72714 03756 6).
With any product, you should always read the labels.  Just because a company makes one product that is partly hydrogenated free does not mean that all their products are safe!

PUPUSAS: This is a delicious dish from El Salvador: stuffed corn tortillas, not the hard tortillas that you normally think of, but more like cornbread. They are like small pancakes, made of fresh corn flour, stuffed with meat, cheese and/or beans. The Mama Lycha brand of frozen pupusas has no hydrogenated oil. In fact, there's no added oil at all; the ingredients are water, corn, filling and salt. It would normally be served with a topping of a pickled cabbage mix, also available in jars from Mama Lycha (visit http://www.mamalycha.net/, for recipes.)  I'm adventurous when it comes to food, and discovered pupusas years ago when I bought them from immigrants who sold them door-to-door (they were unlicensed and had to avoid the city health department, but that sort of thing is common in ethnic communities here.)

Goya Foods makes a number of frozen specialty dishes of various Latin countries, but you have to watch the labels, because their products are not always free of trans-fats.
Another delicious Latin delicacy is "Medallones de Rajas y Elote con Queso" (Stuffed Veggie Medallions) from La Huerta. They are made in Mexico, and distributed here by Schwan's. (Note: be very cautious with Schwan's products; many of them still contain partly hydrogenated fats.) These "Medallions" are very, very good, although a little high in fat.  The whole corn kernels are especially tasty, and Ziggy goes crazy for them.  With most corn, he will only eat the germ, but with these, he eats the entire kernel.  Ignore the label suggestion about frying in oil; you don't need the fat or the calories--just warm them up in the microwave (UPC 0 47918 03000 2).

Marie's is the undisputed champion of bleu cheese dressings, but it is a little expensive. I have found a cheaper alternative that is just as good.  Sam's Club carries Litehouse brand "Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing & Dip" in one liter jars for slightly more than $4. It tastes good, but lacks enough chunks of blue cheese. Fortunately, Sam's also carries Amish blue cheese in a 24-ounce container, and if you combine the two, the mixture is unbeatable.
Get a new jar of the Litehouse product and pour some of it into a smaller container:  you're making room to add Amish blue cheese.  Put in however much you like and shake the mixture thoroughly.  Don't forget to spike the dressing that you poured out with more blue cheese also; this smaller container is for immediate use. Put the rest of the blue cheese in your deep freeze, or put it in your fridge to snack on. There's no law against eating it by itself; just make sure to use several clean spoons when you grab a nibble, since it is impossible to stop with just one.

Canned soups are usually nightmarishly high in sodium, but I have found a good brand of frozen soups by a company called Tabatchnick.  It is wholesome--without artifical ingredients, preservatives or MSG.  Best of all, it is available not just at health food stores but at grocery stores like Safeway/Randall's. Visit www.tabatchnick.com.

Matlaw's "Old Fashioned Style" Salmon Cakes are delicious, with no trans fats (UPC 0 41625 85783 9.)  Morey's Wild Alaskan Salmon filets are extremely good; see recipe on COOKING FOR PARROTS (upc 0 15292 70026 2.)  I do notice that Gorton's products are now safer to eat; the partly hydrogenated fat has been removed.

A Texas company, Kiolbassa, makes sausage that is free of MSG, cereal and fillers.  It is smoked over real hickory, and they use natural pork casings.  Their products come with their guarantee:  "If Kiolbassa sausage is not the best sausage you've ever eaten, we will cheerfully give you your money back."  Their sausage IS good; they were giving free samples away one day at Sam's Club, and I was entranced by the taste.  Note that the Polish word for sausage is "kielbasa," and their family name, Kiolbassa, is the phonetic equivalent, which is why they claim, "Our name means sausage."

The Caterer's Secret® is a brand of tarts made with quality ingredients by a Canadian company, Give and Go Prepared Foods Corp. A mix of pecan and pumpkin tarts, they come 48 to a package. Because they are so tiny, you can eat them in front of your bird fast enough that you won't have to put up with too much begging. They use non-hydrogenated shortening and non-hydrogenated margarine. The label does list "modified palm oil," but I inquired of the Canadian agricultural ministry, and they informed me that the "modified" meant only that it had been stripped of certain fatty acids, and was not partly hydrogenated.

They're delicious. I can let Ziggy have a little bite of the pecans or of the pumpkin filling without having to feel too guilty. These tarts are, unfortunately, made with white flour instead of whole-grain (I view white flower as the nutritional equivalent of toilet paper), but their tiny size gives me an excuse to overlook that fault and just enjoy them. The upc is 7 70981 02003 7 (available at Sam's Club, sometimes.) 

Warning: most grocery store pies, in both the frozen and bakery sections, contain partly hydrogenated oils. Read the labels to be certain.

Oster food processor

If I had a multi-hundred dollar food processor, I would probably use it once or twice a year. I like simplicity: no hard-to-clean chutes or spouts, no dozens of parts to remove or assemble. One of the best purchases I ever made was an Oster® mini-food processor. It fit on top of their blender base and only had 4 parts. It was less than $20 originally.
If you're shredding something that's not greasy, like carrots, you can rinse it clean in less than a minute. Even with oily stuff it only takes a couple of minutes to clean. Obviously, it's not for large quantities, and it's not going to do everything one of the fancy units does. But it is practical.  I see all kinds of gadgets on tv infomercials, but they are not going to trick me into getting something that falls apart the next day.
I've had the Oster for years, although I did burn up one blender by trying to mix up something with a lot of honey and other thick stuff in it. The second blender still works--that is, the motor does. Unfortunately, the 20+ year-old plastic processor bowl now has a serious crack in it. I cannot complain at all about something lasting that long. Wanting another one that would last another 20 years, I looked everywhere for the identical old model, but couldn't find one. Therefore, despite reservations, I ordered their new model via amazon.com (for about $30). Gasp, in what has become a tradition among our manufacturers, the new version of the product is rickety and not nearly as good, so I am going to have to withdraw this endorsement. 
This new bowl wasn't made in China for no reason. I only used it once or twice a month at the most when it started showing strain cracks also--but after less than one year. 

I'm getting disgusted at these appliance companies. I'm seriously considering getting a Bosch, despite the expense. I doubt I'd ever burn out THEIR motor as I did with the first Oster. Looking at product reviews for this and similar products on Amazon, I get the impression that they are all POSs these days. I know that unhappy customers are more likely to post a review to begin with, but the number of unhappy customers with even expensive brands is unbelievable. And when you read reviews at Consumer Reports or Cooks Illustrated, you're looking at how well the product works out of the box, not at how unhappy you're going to be when it breaks a year later. I'd like to invent a time machine, then go back in time and find some way to send MacArthur across the Yellow River, and keep all that nonsense from over there ever having the chance to come into existence.
Anyway, I mentioned infomercials, and that reminded me of the "forever" sharp knife infomercials that show the knives being used to cut a hammer or a brick and then still slice tomatoes perfectly.  I saw an in-store demonstration at Sam's Club not long ago, and I finally figured out the catch: they use the middle of the blade to do all the hard cutting, but to slice the tomato, they start the slicing with the untouched end of the blade near the handle. Once the cutting has started, the middle part of the blade will follow through. I handled the blade after the demonstration, and the middle of the blade was definitely much duller.  I did get two free paring knives as a reward for watching the demonstration; they were very sharp initially, but, as you would expect, after a few months, they lost that "extra" sharpness. Remember: if it's too good to be true--it isn't!

Reduce feather picking and other problem behaviors by giving your bird light that is as close as possible to natural sunlight.  You probably know that you can cut down on your electric bill by replacing your incandescent bulbs with screw-in fluorescents, but regular fluorescent bulbs do NOT have the full light spectrum necessary for your bird's good health.  Products and prices vary, but Naturallighting.com carries full spectrum Vita-Lite Spiralux 26 watt bulbs.  Check out the comparative spectrum charts on their website so you can see what you have been missing all these years in terms of spectral output.
I should point out that the spectral output of such bulbs varies with bulb age, and even though they may appear to still be good, the older a bulb gets, the less uv light it produces. When you turn on a new full spectrum side by side with an old one, you can see the difference:  the new one will seem to have a lot more "whiteness."  So keep your bird healthy by getting new full spectrum bulbs every year.  You can continue using the "used" bulbs elsewhere in the house.  Maybe it's just me, but I seem to feel better with a full spectrum bulb.


You have to have a good air cleaner to get rid of bird dander and airborne mold spores.  But don't take the above picture of Ziggy in front of my Honeywell air cleaner as a recommendation of Honeywell's product. Years ago, their HEPA air cleaners came with a 5 year warranty, which they actually honored. In order for them to honor their warranty, however, not only did you have to pay for shipping, you also had to send them a check for $10. My original Honeywell failed after about 3 years, and they did honor the warranty and sent me another unit. Shockingly enough, the second unit also failed--within the first's original warranty period--but, true to their word, they did send me a third unit.  Honeywell has obviously recognized some kind of problem with their product because, with the last replacement, the warranty period was changed to only one year--a little short for such an expensive product. (I wonder where they're made....) Somehow, though, the third unit was the charm: it has lasted well over five years.
My similarly sized Hunter air cleaner, on the other hand, was purchased on 5/1/97, and is still going strong. The only hassle is trying to find filters for it locally. (Note:  I don't know if Hunter has changed suppliers, so their "today's product" might not be of the same quality level.)

I recommend BitDefender for free online scans and removal. It works separately from whatever program you already use. It's like a second opinion from a doctor:
If you are as paranoid as me about your computer, you might do well to get a second and third opinion and so on.  Trend Micro has a free online scan also, called HouseCall, available at http://housecall.trendmicro.com/.  And, why stop there? There are two other excellent free products (which also have paid versions) that you can download and install.  You don't have to have them running all the time; you can freeze up your system with more than one "resident" antivirus, but these programs can be used for occasional scans, just to "make sure" that you have no malware.  Malwarebytes is one, available at http://www.malwarebytes.org/products.  The other is SuperAntiSpyware, available at http://www.superantispyware.com/.

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All content on this site, including pictures, is copyrighted, ©2006 through 2016, by George A. Butel.  All rights are reserved; text may be quoted freely with attribution, but critical commentary must give me the opportunity to reply.

Visit our hints for cancer patients Google page, which tells you some of the things I learned during cancer treatment, including a few things that "they" forget to tell you, such as having to be a little bit "anal" about trying to prevent opportunistic infections. I never had any during my treatment, so I think my obsession paid off.


This site has tips and observations about dealing with parrots, and a few of my own views about human and parrot health concerns. I have a degree in biochemistry, so I am qualified to make some statements about foods, medicines and supplements, but I am neither a veterinarian nor a physician, and I do not practice human or veterinary medicine. You should certainly double-check any ideas you might get from me, or anything that you might construe as advice, by consulting with an appropriate legally licensed professional.  All content on this site ©2006 through 2014 by George A. Butel.  If you see any typos or any information that you feel is inaccurate or ambiguous, please contact me by clicking here.
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