As the year comes to an end, it’s a tradition of mine to write a note of gratitude to our friends, farmers and ranchers, consumers, advocates, donors, and everyone else who has helped give the future of sustainable farming room to grow and flourish.
And what a year it has been! Animal Welfare Approved has yet again experienced a fantastic year of growth and innovation, driven by the ever-increasing demand for healthy, environmentally friendly and high-welfare products. Here are some highlights of significant milestones we have achieved over the last year. None of this could have been achieved without your continued support.
In response to farmer interest in labeling, Animal Welfare Approved has launched a new labeling section. The site is designed to help farmers and processors navigate the labeling process and serves as the portal for accessing Animal Welfare Approved's free labeling service for certified farms. Featuring labeling guidance, information on claims approval and a gallery of approved labels, the new site and service can save producers time and effort in creating an attractive, effective label for certified products. And as with AWA certification, there is no charge for this service for farmers in the program. Farms interested in certification should visit AWA’s Certification page for more information.
Farmers and processors can use the information in AWA’s new online labeling resource to help distinguish their pastured products in the marketplace, and consumers and retailers will be able to use these resources to ensure they are sourcing sustainable products.The launch of AWA’s new labeling section coincides with the release of “Food Labeling for Dummies,” AWA’s new comprehensive guide for consumers.
George Washington University's Urban Food Task Force, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) have joined forces by providing a platform for DC's vibrant culinary community to focus on strengthening the supply chain for sustainably raised meat.
The Raleigh News & Observer's restaurant critic Greg Cox came out with his annual recognition for local restaurants today. Topping the list as "Restaurant of the Year" is the new Bella Mia, the coal-fired pizzeria in Cary, NC. According to Cox, "Its blistery-crusted pies immediately raised the bar far above anything the area has ever seen." AWA is proud to announce that all of the beef used by Bella Mia is supplied by Rare Earth Farms of Zebulon, NC.
Animal Welfare Approved farms also supplying Gold, Silver and "Best in Class" award winners include Border Springs Farm (lamb), Cane Creek Farm (pork), Captain John S. Pope Farm (lamb), Cohen Farm (eggs), Fowl Attitude Farm (eggs), and High Ground Farm (eggs).
As consumer demand grows for products from animals raised with high-welfare standards, Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to launch its new Online Directory of AWA farms and AWA farmers' products across the country. From beef to bison, milk to cheese, chicken to sheep, this directory is the go-to search engine to find the most humane products available in the United States.
Some of the best burgers in the United States are now being made with humanely raised beef, thanks to Animal Welfare Approved, American Grass Fed Beef, and Dan Rosenthal, owner-operator of the Rosenthal Group.
The legendary Poag Mahone’s, of the Rosenthal Group, is the very first restaurant in Chicago to be serving this prized beef. Poag Mahone’s has been named as one of the best burgers in America by Oprah Winfrey, and GQ magazine declared Poag Mahone’s as serving one of "Top Twenty Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die.”
For ethical eaters attending this year’s Big Apple BBQ in New York City June 12-13, a visit to legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell and The Pit restaurant booth will be an exceptional opportunity to satisfy a hunger for ‘cue while supporting family farmers raising their animals with the highest humane standards. The Pit, of Raleigh, North Carolina, will be serving its signature whole-hog barbecue made exclusively from Animal Welfare Approved pastured pork supplied by the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association (NCNHGA). Pastured pork means the pork comes from pigs raised outdoors, on pasture, where they enjoy sunlight and mud baths in natural surroundings. For eaters, AWA pastured pork means there is no conflict between what your taste buds savor and what your conscience demands.
Animal Welfare Approved staff will be on-hand to run contest giveaways of limited edition AWA “I (HEART) Pastured Pork” T-shirts and backpacks, apply temporary tattoos, and answer questions about farm animal welfare and the Animal Welfare Approved program. “We’re proud of our farmers and proud of our program,” says Animal Welfare Approved Program Director Andrew Gunther. “Since we can’t really shout it from the rooftops, we thought t-shirts would be fun.” All visitors who sign up for the Animal Welfare Approved e-mail list will receive a free drawstring backpack.
All the heat wasn’t in the kitchen on March 17, when a group of chefs, led by AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan, wore their traditional white jackets to Capitol Hill to push for increased funding for school lunches. Chef’s Day of Action, coordinated by the NYC Alliance for CNR (Child Nutrition Reauthorization), brought together celebrity chefs and school lunch reform advocates to urge Congress to provide an additional $4 billion in funding per year for school food programs.
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act comes up every five years and this year President Obama has asked for an additional $1 billion per year. The Senate, however, is considering only authorizing $500 million per year—half of what the President has requested. Even $1 billion wouldn’t make much of a difference to the 30 million school children who depend on the National School Lunch Program for meals. And when you consider the size of the budget—$3.7 trillion—it’s pocket change. $1 billion only equals 17 ½ cents per day per child. The government reimburses schools $2.68 for fully subsidized lunches.
The chefs say much more is needed to really make a difference. An increase in funding to $4 billion will provide an additional $0.70 per child. “We need school lunches to be about the best food, not the cheapest food,” says Chef Bill Telepan, who is also a board member of NYC’s Wellness in the Schools. “This is what we practice as chefs and we have a responsibility to bring the best food there is into schools.”
Where does our school food come from and how is it produced?
To investigate some of these issues, Animal Welfare Approved sponsored a one-week, three-city tour for the UK Dinner Lady, Jeanette Orrey. Jeanette is credited with changing school food in the UK, and AWA sponsored this visit to promote cross cultural dialogue and share her experiences with people working to make change in several US school districts. Following two days in New York City, the tour continued south (via Amtrak), to Baltimore City Public Schools and Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools. (Pictured: Nancy Easton and Chef Bill Telepan of NYC nonprofit, Wellness in the Schools and Baltimore City Schools' Great Kids Farm Manager Greg Strella.)
We had a great visit yesterday with our friends at Queens County Farm Museum. Pictured is Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, Executive Director, Jeanette Orrey, UK Dinner Lady, Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director and Michael Grady Robertson, Director of Agriculture for the Queens Farm. Our discussion focused on nutritious school food and ways we can work together to effect changes. The Farm hosts more than 250,000 school children annually who get the opportunity to see live farm animals and get an idea of where their food comes from. Joining us on this continuing journey were Chef Bill Telepan, Wellness in the Schools' Nancy Easton and AWA staffer Brigid Sweeney.