Sunday, January 24, 2010

Knowing Your Labels

To make being an Ethical Omnivore easier, we need to use the tools available to us. Several groups are attempting to regulate Humanely Raised meats, eggs and dairy. Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and American Humane Certified have done the work to ensure animals are raised humane through site inspection. They provide product labeling on approved products. It is one way to easily identify animal products that meet humane standards.

I have mentioned Certified Humane Raised and Handled programs before. The Certified Humane label has the approval of the Humane Society of the United States. The Certified Humane program require humane treatment of animal from birth through slaughter. The goal of the program is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving costumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices. To learn more about this program and view products certified go to:

Animal Welfare Approved program audits and certifies family farms that utilize high-welfare methods of farming. AWA requires animals to raised on pasture or range. They award approval to family farms only. And, unlike Certified Humane they do not charge a fee to be approved. Among the products approved is White Oak Pastures sold at Whole Foods and Publix stores. To learn more about this program and view products certified go to:

American Humane Certified is a voluntary, fee-based service available to producers of animals in agriculture. The program provides independent, third party audited verification that the care and handling of the animals on the enrolled farms meet the animal welfare standards set forth by American Humane Certified. Approved producers include Dixie Egg Company (Egg-land Best), Springer Mountain Farms (chicken) and Pastry Smart (frozen food). To learn more about this program and view other products go to:

Don't be fooled by misleading labels. Organic and All Nature have nothing to do with Humane practices. According to the Humane Society of the United States, USDA Organic Standard is barely a standard at all. Requiring factory farms to provide a few more inches of space than no-organic USDA approved animals.
Where as, "All Nature" has absolutely no regulation for most products and nothing to do with humane farming practices. When applied to beef and poultry the USDA stipulates the products need to be "minimally processed."

Humane Animal Products are available at our local stores and product labeling is important tool to ensuring that our animals are treated humanely and we are able to find those products. I also find it to be a tool for consumer education and awareness. The more products with humane labeling the more the average consumer will be exposed to the idea that animals deserve humane treatment.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grass Fed Cows: Safer for All of Us

Farmers and food producer have a responsibility to provide us with the safest foods and protect us from contaminated food. E. coli outbreaks have caused the pulling vegetables and meats off shelves to protect us. But what if the farmers could do more to protect our health from E. coli. Shouldn't they be responsible to do just that. Several study over the last few years have suggested they could do more for us. A study in the March 28th, 2000 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that as many as one out of every three cattle may play host to the deadliest strain of E. coli bacteria ( 0157:H)

What's causing this? Well, an explanation in "Why Grass-fed Is Best!", feeding cattle grain instead of their their natural diet of grass greatly increases the risk of disease transmission.

Why? First, it increases the overall bacteria count. Second, it increases the bacteria risk of becoming acid resistant. Acid-resistant bacteria are far more likely to survive the acidity of our normal digestive juices and cause disease.

Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," explains:

"Most of the microbes that reside in the gut of a cow and find their way into our food get killed off by the acids in our stomachs, since they originally adapted to live in a neutral-pH environment. But the digestive tract of the modern feedlot cow is closer in acidity to our own, and in this new, man-made environment acid-resistant strains of E. coli have developed that can survive our stomach acids - and go on to kill us. By acidifying a cow's gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain's barriers to infections."
The first graph below illustrates the absolute numbers of E. coli bacteria found in grass-fed versus grain-fed animals. The second graph shows how many of the bacteria are likely to withstand our gastric juices. You should still take the normal precautions when handling and cooking grass-fed meat, however. As few as ten E. coli bacteria can cause disease in people with weakened immune systems.

ecoli count

ecoli survival

Note: Grass-fed animals have so few acid-resistant bacteria that the number fails to register on the scale of the graph.

(Diez-Gonzalez, F., et al. (1998). "Grain-feeding and the dissemination of acid-resistant Escherichia coli from Cattle." Science 281, 1666-8.)

So, why did they do it? Money! Feeding cows corn is faster, and so more profitable. Seventy-five years ago, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are 14 or 16 months. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones to take a calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds. The cost to the animals and our health is not worth their profit.
As an Ethical Omnivore, it our responsiblity to protect both our health and the animals. Chosing grass-fed beef is safer for our health and allows the cows to be in their natural environment. Shouldn't the farmers also take the responsibility to protect us from E. coli by choosing the natural diet for cows.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Animal Compassionate Standards

Still haven't heard back from Publix, although I talked to another Meat Clerk that reports all their GreenWise Meats are humanely treated. I still want to see it in writing.

What I have found meanwhile is a Whole Foods document giving details of both Whole Foods Market Natural Meat Program Standards and Whole Foods Market Animal Compassionate Standards for Broiler Chickens. Check out this link.

Whole Foods' website also states all shell eggs sold and those used in their kitchen and bakeries are cage free. The hens are allowed to move freely within a chicken house or outdoors where they get exercise and scratch about. Whole Foods dairy products come from the milk of animal with access to organic pasture in combination with organically grown feed. And they follow the National Organic Standards. All their chicken in the meat department is free-range.

I wish we had a Whole Foods here in Lakeland. Oh, well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We Vote When We Eat

So, what can we do to prevent the abuses occurring every day in factory farms. Well, first don't support them. Be firm in your resolve to not use animal products that are raised and killed in factory farms. The Humane Society has been working toward the end of factory farming for years. Their advise to consumers is to decrease animals by following the Three Rs:
  1. Reduce our animal consumption.
  2. Refine our diet by switching to higher welfare animal products (e.g. cage-free).
  3. Replace animal products with readily available vegetarian options.
Humane Society continues with their Factory Farming Campaign, as demonstrated in the announcement by Sonic that they will begin phasing in Cage-Free eggs and pork (NewsOK Jan. 21, 2010). Through urging by Humane Society, they will be joining Burger King, Denny's, Wendy's, Red Robin, Quiznos, Hardee's, and Carl's Jr; who have similar policies. Now, it is just a baby step because these restaurants are only agreeing to use up to 10 percent cage free eggs and pork. But, it is a start.

So, again I say that we need to vote our conscious and support those business that are willing to support Cruelty-Free, Humane animal products. Where we spend our money speaks to businesses.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What American's Want?

A Gallup Poll reported two-thirds of Americans are in favor of passing strict laws concerning the treatment of farm animals. Most people don't want to think of the conditions that Factory Farmed animals are raised in, but when aware they don't want them treated in cruel manner. Again I think if cruelty free products are readily available and clearly label Humanely Treated; more people would choose them over the Factory Farmed animals.
One of the deterrents from choosing to be an Ethical Omnivore in this busy world, is finding the products. Most restaurants are not serving cruelty-free products. I personally have given up eating beef, chicken or pork while at a restaurant. I still will eat seafood. But what I have had to give up is Fast Food, now the plus to that is I have saved quite a bit of money each week by not eating out and have shed a few pounds, too. But socially it is difficult when you want to do out with friends. I'll have more say about this another time.
I have until now eating Murray's Chicken or other Certified Humane non-processed meats. But, after learning that there are bot dogs, lunch meats and bacon available I have been very eager to try them.
Today, I went to the Oakbridge Publix (in Lakeland, FL) to pick up lunch. I was eager to try some of the Applegate Farms Certified Humane Hot Dogs. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I could not find it and when I ask the Meat Clerk, he told me that there wasn't enough of a demand and they had removed both the Hot Dogs & Bacon. I couldn't believe it. The clerk took my name and number and said he would call me when he found out more. In about an hour he did call and said he did order the Hot Dogs and they will be in Saturday. But to keep the products in the stores we have to support them.
Here is a list of the Certified Humane and Cruelty Free products I am aware of. Some may or may not be in your area.
  • Murray's Chicken (breast, legs & whole chickens)
  • Applegate Farms (selected organically processed meats)
  • Organic Valley (milk, cheese, butter & more)*
  • Organic Prairie (meats, sausage) -part of Organic Valley CO-OP*
  • Stony Fields Organic (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter & more) -also part of Organic Vally*
  • Grain 4 Cage Free Eggs*
  • Muir Glen (soups)* I emailed them to check.
  • Chipotle Restaurants* Tampa (as far as I know the only one supporting cruelty free in our area)
  • 365 Whole Food Brands* (report they practice humane animal treatment)
    *Not Certified Humane, but have demonstrated their commitment to Cruelty-Free Farming

    Also I have not heard back from the email I sent to Publix Headquarters, regarding if their GreenWise products our cruelty free.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Look for this Label

Treating animals humanely means allowing them to exercise their natural instincts and behaviors. Humanely raised cattle live on pasture and eat their natural diet of grass. Hogs are able to root, nest and farrow in open-ended barns, and chickens and turkeys have space to roam freely.
The Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program is a certification and labeling program that is the only animal welfare label requiring the humane treatment of farm animals from birth through slaughter. Their goal is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices. Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label means the food products have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment.
Certified Humane is not the only way to be an Ethical Omnivore, but it takes out alot of the guess work to ensure the animals we eat have lead the lives of animals.
Check out their site for more information:
I emailed Publix yesterday to find out if their GreenWise chicken is free range or if in the future they will become a Certified Humane Producer. I let you know what I find out.
But mean while I have found Applegate Farms and Organic Valley to be Certified Humane and available at our local markets (central Florida). The Certified Humane Website has a listing of our the Producers. The more we support the use of a labeling system the more producers will feel pressured to become certified. Providing more of a sections to the consumers. Easier the access to Humanely raised and slaugtered animals, them more people I believe with be interested in becoming an Ethical Omnivore.

Monday, January 18, 2010


There is a growing number of Ethical Omnivores; people who eat meat, but only if it has been raised and killed humanely. Animals deserve to be treated without cruelty. I feel there would be more people who would eat this way if there was more of a return benefit for them. I want to help people eat healthy and with a conscious.
I personally (and husband & 4 kids) have given up eating "Factory Farmed Meats" - the practice of raising animals in overcrowed confining pens, stock yards or cages. We changed our way of eating for moral issues, but the more research I did on this subject(mostly trying to find Humanely raised meats, milk, eggs and cheese), the more I learned about the health benefits from eating animals not raised in Factory Farms. I want to share what I have learned.
First,"Factory Farmed" animals are fed grain (mostly corn),which is not their natural diet. Grass-fed beef (free-range) has only half the saturated fat of grain-fed beef. If you eat a typical amount of beef (Americans average 66.5 pounds a year) switching to grass-fed will save you 17,733 calories a year. (University of California Cooperative Extension Service and California State University, College of Agriculture, Chico) WOW, that is definite benefit considering that obesity is epidemic in the United States.
I know when I was a kid beef at meat counter looked so much different. Round steak was a pretty solid red. Now, it is has thick marbling of fat through out. Factory Framers feed grain (corn) to the cows while their confined to cause them to fatten up quicker for increased profit. Grain(corn) does not add more meat to the cows, but adds more fat. What the Factory Farmers have really done is fatten the cows and us!