Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Tad Mutersbaugh


Marketing ‘sustainable and humane’ super-premium dog kibble has emerged alongside alternative food movements (AFM). Unfortunately, super-premium pet-food comprised of ‘high-quality’ protein is at odds with sustainability and affect for particular animals. This study analyzed social and geographical (mis)representations of nonhumans in the pet-food commodity chain by tracing how knowledge and value is produced, and mapping the geography of Open Farm dog food. I assess these geographies and discourses and I identify the following: (1) sustainability claims focus on transportation and packaging, ignoring the significant environmental and social impacts of animal agriculture. (2) Images of farmed animals on packaging often do not reflect the conditions of the animals; (3) The organization of animals into hierarchies of ‘killability’ is not questioned, but rather reinforced; (4) This limited representation of the supply chain adds exchange value to Open Farm kibble. In disentangling the production of knowledge and claims to truth in alternative pet foods, I fill a gap in existing food and animal geographies research. While there is extensive research on AFM and animal agriculture, less work has been done around pets and pet-food, which have a significant environmental and social impacts. Finally, I suggest sustainable, humane alternatives to existing pet food systems.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was funding by Barnhardt-Withington-Block (BWB) Funding 2021 and the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky 2020-2022