First, let me say that eating meat is a personal choice. For those that prefer meat, it is the only nutritionally complete food source, it also provides sustenance for the majority of the world today. However, the way that food animals are raised, fed and slaughtered today brings up serious questions about our consumption of meat. We need to be aware of the process and our options in order to improve the circumstances of food animals, and to insure the high quality of the meat we consume. The best option for consuming meat is if it is ethically farmed.
What does “ethically farmed” mean?
Ethically farmed meat has a specific definition. It means that the animal had its entire life spent on the pasture, with plentiful room to move and engage in habits and tendencies specific to its breed. This means beef and dairy cows feed on grass for their entire lives; laying hens and meat birds on grass and grain supplements; and pigs are wandering free in their corrals. Ethically farmed meat will always be raised by local smaller farmers and usually sold online by companies like Cannings Free Range Butchers or at a local farmers market.
Why should we eat ethically farmed meat?
This is the great question, especially when it will cost you a little more to purchase ethically farmed meat. Also, you will have to go out of your way to find this kind of meat because most places that sell meat simply will not offer it. So without the two advantages of price and convenience, why bother?
Healthier Meat: Grass-fed cows have a sturdier stomach allowing the animals to fight off deadly microbes, such as E. coli. Additionally, when cattle and chickens are raised entirely on pasture, they’re not exposed to the diseases, viruses and bacteria found in feedlots. The meat from grass fed animals contain higher levels of beta carotene (vitamin A), CLA, Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that people who eat foods containing these essential vitamins and fats have a reduced risk of cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, and high-blood pressure.
Supporting Local Farmers: Local farmers produce ethically farmed meat and as a result, when you purchase this meat you help the small guy. This also means that this type of framing will continue which is a great thing for us all.
Ethics: Most people agree that we should try to avoid causing pain or other forms of distress on animals. Modern factory farms are dens of animal suffering. Cramming animals into impossible cramped conditions where they must wade around in a toxic sea of their own waste, and often suffer from skeletal problems and organ failure due to how fast they grow; and then are carted off to horrible inhumane deaths. This process is unconscionable and unnecessary.
How can I tell if my meat was ethically farmed?
In supermarkets and ordinary grocery stores you should assume that all animal products for sale, unless stated to the contrary, have not been produced in a manner that is humane, sustainable, or environmentally friendly. So either buy from places that only sell ethically farmed products or read the labels very carefully. Ones that are ethically farmed will be clearly marked.