Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ethical Omnivore - Buying Meat & What Those Terms Mean

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Did you know that, this last April, it was publicized - that 1 in 4 U.S. meat samples were tainted with multi-drug resistant staph? We have all heard that food borne illness is a serious problem and that concern is directly connected to the unethical treatment of the animals, raised for our consumption.

Some years back, for my health, my families and in consideration of those animals, our family became "ethical omnivores!" Unfortunately though, selecting better meat is easier said than done.

Here's a rough guide to the "legal" definitions of labels you could find in the butcher’s department at your local grocery store and what they mean.

"Cage Free" - The animals were not put in cages. However, this does not mean they were free-range or even set foot outdoors.

"Barn Roaming" - This is a relatively new one. These animals were not caged, but were also not free to go outside.

"Free Range" or "Free Roaming" - The animals had access to the outdoors, but does not necessarily mean they ever went outside.

"Grass-fed" - For ruminant animals (like cows, goats, and sheep) were fed a diet of only grass and forage. Animals were able to graze.

"Vegetarian-fed" - Animals were not fed any animal by-product, but may have had a diet that included grains.

"Certified Humane" - Animals were kept so as to allow free movement, without tethers, cages, or crates. Does not necessarily indicate access to outdoors. This label contains no information about the animals’ diet.

"Natural" - May not contain an artificial ingredient or added color and can only be minimally processed (meaning the product cannot be fundamentally altered).

"No Hormones Administered" - On beef, this means no hormones were administered to the cattle. Use of hormones in raising pigs or poultry is illegal nationwide.

"No Antibiotics Added" - No antibiotics were used at all (even for illness) in the raising of the animals.

"Certified Organic" - Animals had access to bedding and the outdoors, but its uncertain for how long. No hormones or antibiotics were used in their raising.

{Note: For more information on food labeling, visit to USDA's website}Link(Photos via Jupiter Images)

4 comments:

Emily said...

Have you read The Butcher and the Vegetarian? She does some in-depth exploration about ethical meat-eating. It has changed (for the better) our consumption. It's not a love story (ignore the title and the cover) but it is VERY good.

Meg the Wild Child said...

THANK YOU for this list Sabina! I began my humane studies about 20 years ago as a school assignment, and was so shocked and heartbroken about what I learned it has affected me ever since. I eat very little meat, but the meat I eat comes from Whole Foods and other sources where it's guaranteed the animals were humanely killed and their meat is safe. I know there are no guarantees, but the effort - and even the expense - is worth it to me. You don't have to look very far to find factory farming reports about illness and unethical treatment that will change the way you view the animals you eat forever.

Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

All good info to know...but it is so sad that there are so many fine lines and loopholes when raising, treating, and caring for animals should just be 100% good, humane and healthy.

How did the world get so off track?

Sabina said...

Thanks Meg!! Love your new pic btw!! xx's

Thanks also Emily - I will check that out!! ;)

Thanks for stopping by Mel -- I agree too many loopholes!! xx's

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