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What is Better Meat? blog

What is Better Meat?

 

Let’s face facts: America has a very deep-seated meat culture—and that’s not going to change any time soon. Despite the efforts of some food advocates to persuade people to stop eating meat, U.S. per capita meat consumption rose by a whopping 5 percent in 2015—the largest increase in over 40 years.

As an organization promoting high-welfare, sustainable food animal production—and working directly with thousands of livestock farmers and ranchers—this represents a real challenge. It’s now widely accepted that if we continue to consume such unsustainable levels of industrial meat, dairy and eggs, we’re all in big trouble. We urgently need to change what we eat and how it’s produced.

Over recent years, some food advocate groups have sought to find a ‘silver bullet’ solution that consumers can easily buy into, which will bring about the wholesale reform of industrial food animal production we so urgently need. While these efforts have resulted in some good (and some not so good) ideas, the food industry has always been sharper and far more effective at getting their message across to the consumer.

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Think a diet without animal protein will save the world? Six answers that might make you think. blog

Think a Diet Without Animal Protein Will Save the World? Six answers that might make you think…

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the environmental and animal welfare impacts of animal agriculture. First we were told to avoid processed meat; then we learned beef was the new villain; and now ALL meat is being vilified as bad for human health, animal welfare and the planet.

But is meat’s bad rap really deserved? While it’s great to see more people talking about the impact of our diets on the planet and animal welfare, encouraging the world to go meat-free misses the point entirely. Here’s why:

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Organic Welfare Standards Proposals: (Yet Another) Missed Opportunity

Organic Welfare Standards Proposals: (Yet Another) Missed Opportunity

After years of delays, the U.S. National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has finally agreed the organic standards should encompass the treatment and welfare of animals. The big question is: will the proposed welfare standards actually change anything?

As detailed in the National Organic Program’s (NOP) Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices, the proposed welfare standards would introduce a range of new requirements on the living conditions of organic animals, including transportation, slaughter and minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements. The proposals are intended to address what many see as a long-standing—and gaping—hole in the U.S. organic standards concerning the welfare of animals on organic farms, not to mention the huge shortcoming in consumer expectations of what the “organic” label actually stands for.

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Top 11 of 2011

Dear Friends, 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.
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Cargill’s Turkey is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

How many more lives must be lost or irreversibly damaged before we finally accept the fact that industrialized farming is killing us? So far, the contamination from a new strain of Salmonella (Salmonella Heidelberg) has resulted in one death in California and at least 79 illnesses across 26 states. According to reports, it appears the outbreak “officially” began in March 2011, when a growing number of cases of Salmonella Heidelberg were noted. However, the FSIS didn’t issue a public warning until July 29, and even then this was a broad statement about potential links with ground turkey. Questions are already being asked about the significant time lag between the March detection of the spike in cases, the FSIS announcement in late July, and Cargill’s voluntary withdrawal in early August. But I have far graver concerns about this outbreak. While any outbreak of food poisoning is horrific, and the immediate focus must be to treat those affected and identify the source, few people seem to be discussing the larger public health issue: this particular strain of Salmonella is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Scientists around the world link this resistance to years of misuse of medicinally important antibiotics by the intensive farming industry. Virtually all intensively farmed animals in the U.S. receive low levels of antibiotics throughout their lives as growth promoters to help maximize production. While this lowers the price tag on industrial protein, the practice encourages bacteria to quickly become resistant to antibiotics – the same antibiotics we use to treat ourselves. In fact, some dangerous bacteria are now resistant to multiple antibiotics. This means that when we get infected, there are fewer and fewer options for treatment. And we are fast running out of options altogether.
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Beware the Myths of Feedlot Marketeers

Beware the Myths of Feedlot MarketeersAn article which first appeared on the web back in January is doing the rounds again. This time it’s being used by the National Beef Packing Company to promote its “natural” beef. The National Beef Packing Company has a lot to say about the benefits of its feedlot-raised, grain-fed beef versus grassfed beef, and is currently using an edited version of an article by James E. McWilliams, entitled “Beware the Myths of Grassfed Beef,” to support its argument. I’m not sure if the editing of this newer version was done by McWilliams himself, or if National realized that if they printed the original article in its entirety they would at the very least find themselves promoting the animal welfare and health benefits of grassfed over feedlot beef. Because in his original article, McWilliams states that “the comparative health benefits of grass-fed beef are well documented” and that “scores of studies indicate that it's higher in omega 3s and lower in saturated fat.” He also says that grassfed systems are “kinder to the animals” – all points which have miraculously disappeared from the National Beef Packing Company’s current version. But let’s not worry about that now, and go straight to the “meat” of the article.
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Panelists Offer Insights Into the Future of Farming

On May 4 Animal Welfare Approved hosted an expert panel of writers, farmers and representatives of sustainable livestock production. Entitled, “Green Pastures, Bright Future: Taking the Meat We Eat Out of the Factory and Putting it Back on the Farm," the discussion centered on the need for truly sustainable livestock farming that takes into account animal welfare and the health of our environment - and ourselves. Panelists included investigative journalist and author of Animal Factory David Kirby; author of the bestselling Righteous Porkchop Nicolette Hahn Niman; chicken farmer and whistle-blower in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” Carole Morison; and rancher, veterinarian and president of the American Grassfed Association, Dr. Patricia Whisnant.
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Got Milk? Want more? Ask Bessie…

Well, it's official. Giving your cows names can increase their milk yield. I’ve just read in The London Times that scientists at the University of Newcastle in the UK were awarded one of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes for finding out that cows who are given names produced a higher milk yield than those who weren't. I laughed, too. But then it got me thinking. You see, while the Ig Noble Prize ceremony is all rather tongue in cheek, there is a serious side; the prizes are awarded to research achievements that "first make people LAUGH then make them THINK." While this research might seem a little ridiculous, it was actually a serious study into cow welfare.
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