The American Humane Association’s (AHA) farm animal welfare certification program – American Humane Certified – announced in June that it will permit the use of so-called enriched battery cages for laying hens as an option for humane housing. Humane? My first reaction on hearing this was, “Hey guys, you do realize this is still a cage, don’t you?” But let’s be evenhanded about this and look at the reasoning put forward by the American Humane Association. The American Humane Association’s rationale for this decision is that these cages are “enriched” to allow hens to exhibit natural behaviors. In making this decision AHA states that it has carried out an extensive scientific review of the behavior and welfare of laying hens housed in such systems – mainly looking at research from Europe where conventional cages are soon to be totally banned. Okay, so I might consider accepting that an “enriched” battery cage possibly offers better welfare opportunities than a standard battery cage. But AHA fails to recognize some key behavioral needs that hens are driven to perform. I am talking about providing the birds with space to run, stretch, flap their wings, and fly; litter and somewhere to dust bathe; and vegetated areas to peck at and forage in. AHA also significantly underestimates the ability of enriched cages to provide adequate nesting and perching. So what does the research really tell us about “enriched” battery cages? And are they really a humane option? I was pretty confident that a lot of research existed to say some of these behaviors are not wants but programmed driven behavioral needs.
Superior Fresh, an industry-leading aquaponics facility specializing in organic leafy greens and Atlantic salmon, is the first company to offer salmon Certified Non-GMO by A Greener World. The company’s flagship facility is the largest of its kind, practicing ecologically sound water conservation and native prairie restoration in a closed-loop, zero-discharge system.
Developed at the request of farmers and consumers seeking a meaningful non-GMO label, Certified Non-GMO by AGW guarantees food is produced without the use of genetically modified feed, supplements or ingredients, and comes from animals raised according to higher animal welfare standards using sustainable agriculture methods. On salmon, the Certified Non-GMO by AGW label includes A Greener World’s Salmon Welfare Certified standards, incorporating the UK RSPCA’s respected higher welfare salmon standards. Certified Non-GMO by AGW has meaningful prohibitions on GMO contamination, and ensures that at no point in the growing, processing or manufacturing of the product will GMOs enter the system.
Superior Fresh uses a stewardship-based approach to produce their salmon, a model which positively impacts the surrounding wild ecosystems. Conventional salmon farming techniques use large amounts of water that most often carries the fish waste into sensitive marine ecosystems and sometimes into precious streams and rivers. Superior Fresh alleviated these problems with a closed system. Not only do Superior Fresh salmon contribute nutrients to their greenhouse, but the wastewater is used to help irrigate alfalfa and restore prairie on their family farm. Superior Fresh also recirculates close to 99.9% of their production water, resulting in zero waste.
Superior Fresh President Brandon Gottsacker says, “The fish production systems at Superior Fresh are designed and managed using technology that maintains clean water, giving our salmon the opportunity to live in a stress-free environment. It is our duty to make sure our fish have great welfare, leading to the best quality fish for the consumer. In the absence of a USDA Organic standard for seafood, we chose to obtain the AGW certifications for Salmon Welfare and Non-GMO to assure our customers that we meet their standards.”
Salmon Welfare Certified by AGW, Certified Non-GMO by AGW Salmon from Superior Fresh is available at many stores across the Midwest and Great Lakes region. For a complete, up-to-date directory of retail locations visit https://www.superiorfresh.com/fish.