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Consumers Can and Will Make a Difference

We received this letter yesterday from a supporter of animal welfare and believe that more and more consumers are getting concerned and angry about the confusion (sometimes deliberate) around food labelling.

Dear AWA,

Thank you for your work. I have recently become even more interested in keeping my meat eating as ‘green’ as possible. I am concerned with the economic and environmental issues associated with the overdevelopment of factory farms but I am most interested in animal welfare.

I have become an avid cook over the past few years. I live in New York and I am fortunately able to spend what I need to in order to insure that my food comes from responsible producers. I shop at farmers” markets frequently but this is not always possible. I am not willing to give up meat but I would like to be at least reasonably sure that the meat I buy was raised and slaughtered humanely. Yes, I do think this is possible. When I buy a prime steak for example from a small butcher shop in the village for $30 a pound, I”m assuming that the meat was more humanely raised than the meat in a 69 cent hamburger from McDonalds but I’m not sure. It’s really unsettling.

Any advice? I’d love to hear your ideas for myself as well as so I can inform some of my other foodie friends who I know have similar questions.

Thank you so much for your time and your brave work. This country is moving in the right direction and you”ve been a great part of that.

Sincerely,

Jeremy

Chef Andrea Reusing, owner of the Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, provides some insight during her upcoming interview to be published in the Animal Welfare Approved newsletter and on the Animal Welfare Approved website .

What general words of wisdom do you have for someone trying to make more conscientious meat choices?

Retail markets and restaurants take a lot of direction from customers, and I think customers set the tone for what the purchasing is going to be. I think people need to be a lot more vocal at the meat counter, and in restaurants—asking specific questions, and not necessarily taking the answers that they’re given as the whole truth.

For example, there’s a big poultry company North Carolina that does organic chicken [as well as industrially farmed chicken]. It’s around $2.25 to $2.60 a pound, roughly 30% more than industrial chicken. And we could have that chicken on the menu and say, “Local Organic Chicken,” and that would scratch the itch of 98% of the people who walked in the door that were interested in these issues.. But I’m sure that this company’s husbandry practices are no better than those for industrial chicken, and I’m sure those “organic” chickens don’t have the space to forage that a pastured chicken has [The Lantern’s menu features pastured chicken, even though Reusing pays nearly retail price for it]. I think that this is a fight that restaurants and retailers need to be willing to engage in, if we’re really going to change production practices. Not just doing “organic” and “local” when it’s easy, and when it’s just going to make everyone happy, but going further.

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