Merriam-Webster describes "holistic" as the following: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts; holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body; holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system.
Many pet-food companies have jumped, nay, leapt, on the "holistic" band-wagon, and pet owners cannot get enough of them. Based on my experience, most pet owners do not have a good (or any) understanding of what "holistic" is. That their pets are eating some sort of "holistic" diet is the only thing that many pet owners care about, but don't really understand why.
Example: if I am using an holistic approach to treating osteoarthritis, I would be giving NSAIDS for pain and inflammation, Cartrophen injections to maintain healthy cartilage and joint fluid, omega fatty acids as an adjunct to anti-inflammatories, weight loss to reduce strain and stress on joints, exercise and physical rehabilitation to prevent muscle atrophy and strengthen bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc, and possibly tramadol or gabapentin for pain or concurrent neuropathic pain. This is an holistic approach to treating osteoarthritis. The use of the word holistic to describe pet foods irks me, as much as the word "organic" and "natural." Rocks, twigs, and chicken bones are all "natural," but I don't want your pet eating these things, savvy? Organic foods are those limiting or excluding synthetic ingredients. I will sooner recommend a non-organic food that has undergone studies in animals before recommending an organic pet food having undergone none.
In all fairness, many of these holistic foods seem perfectly balanced, are recognized by the Association of American Plant Food Conrol Officials (AAPFCO), and whose quality of ingredients make me wonder why human beings are not eating half as well as our pets and livestock.
Ultimately, we should be reading pet food labels as if we're eating these foods ourselves. Be curious, ask questions, confirm mysterious ingredients with your veterinarian and don't buy into the hype of "holistic" or "organic" foods unless the proof is in the pudding, or rather in the pet food.
both genuinely organic... but don't feed to your pets.