One of the hottest trends right now in food marketing is informing consumers that the animal product they are purchasing was derived from an animal that was humanely raised and treated.This includes, dairy, eggs, poultry, beef, pork, and other meats.
Since there is no FDA definition for “humane”, each processor is free to associate this and similar terms with its products. As a result, factory farms have magically become animal friendly. And “no antibiotics” conjures an idealic Garden of Eden for bovines. The truth, of course, is far from that.
What’s an ethical shopper, or one attempting to lessen the plight of lower beings, to do?
What you need to know:
Luckily the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has information to help you make decisions. Their website categorizes the various humane labels based on their REAL humaneness, not marketing. While “cage free” eggs are a good option, this label does not mean the chickens were free range. Also, it is not verified by a third party. A better option is “Certified Organic”. The best labels are the following:
“Certified Humane” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“American Humane Certified” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“Animal Welfare Approved” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork, rabbit)
In addition, WSPA publishes an annual report, where they rank the top grocers based on animal friendly products. Whole Foods is the leader, but Publix, Kroger, and Hy-Vee have a good showing as well.
WSPA even put together a helpful FAQs Page.
What to do at the supermarket:
Unfortunately for consumers and animals, humane foods tend to cost more, especially the organic variety. For many people there is a clash between the will to eat more humanely and their pocketbooks. Each family should decide what works best for them, but at least you should be informed about what you are or aren’t getting.
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