Meat Week: Animal Welfare
Clearly, we realize that when we talk about the welfare of animals in the same breath as value-based meat consumption, there's a bit of a disconnect.
If we were discussing absolutes, we'd have to say that someone who really cares about the welfare of animals simply wouldn't eat meat. But no one expects the world to work like that, and there are companies and certifying groups that are working diligently to lessen the discomfort and pain of animals that will be turned into food.
The Whole Foods 5-STEP® ANIMAL WELFARE RATING.
For a meat to be sold at Whole Foods, the animal must have at very least received a “1” and been raised in an environment where there was “No Cages, No Crates, No Crowding.” Animals rated as “4’s” and “5’s” were raised in a “Pasture Centered” environment or “Animal Centered” respectively.
Animal Welfare Approved
is widely considered one of the top and most respected certifications for meat and animal products. Buyers will generally pay a considerable premium for products with this certification.
“Certified Humane, Raised and Handled” is a much more common but still widely respected certification for animal welfare.
We've found that most of the other certifications and claims on packaging have limited credibility at best. Other than buying meat with the fore mentioned certifications, the best way to improve the likelihood that the meat that you are purchasing was produced in a responsible, animal centered manner is to buy from local, small-scale farms that publicly take pride in how they treat their animals.