Very few issues have larger implications for public health, animal welfare, and the environment than industrial animal agriculture. Over the past six years, we’ve spent a great deal of time reporting on animals, both about their welfare and also on the larger (and growing) implications around meat production, consolidation, and regulation (or lack thereof). In this month’s editor note, I share some of the stories we’ve covered on this intensely complex, political, and personal issue. Read more
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Many in the food world were shocked by this week’s announcement of the sale of Niman Ranch to poultry giant Perdue. As one of the go-to brands behind Chipotle’s antibiotic-free pledge, and a relatively accessible alternative to industrially-produced meat, Niman Ranch has carved out an important niche in a market where demand for antibiotic-free and humanely produced foods are steadily on the rise. Read more
When Massachusetts voters go to the polls next November, they will have the opportunity to decide on a new animal welfare law impacting livestock and chickens raised and sold in the state. The ballot measure’s backers—which include the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—are now setting out to collect the required signatures and tout the benefits of the proposed law, which would require that any animal raised or sold for consumption in Massachusetts be able to lie down, stand up, fully extend its limbs, and turn around freely. Read more
When it comes to raising farm animals, Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop have been swimming against the tide for years. The husband-and-wife team ran a pasture-based pork and chicken operation called TC Ranch on 20 rented acres in California for six years. Now, they’re raising animals and farming crops on five acres in the Columbia River Gorge, an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon. They’ve seen the challenges of raising animals responsibly first hand, and they’ve also travelled the country interviewing small producers for Thistlethwaite’s first book, Farms with a Future. Read more
When you buy a pound of hamburger in the grocery store, you’re likely to be bombarded by an incredible assortment of labels. With all-natural, grass-fed, free-range, pastured, sustainably sourced, and certified organic options to choose from, it’s not easy to parse which beef is actually the best. Read more
Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.
JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.
As animal welfare expert Temple Grandin has described it, pregnant pigs housed in gestation crates spend their days living in the equivalent of an airline seat for humans.
Jon Bansen has been working on a dairy farm in Monmouth, Oregon alongside his father for nearly 30 years. When the farm switched to organic about 16 years ago, he started to pay more attention to their 650 acres of grass and forageland. Grazing has long been central to organic dairies, and since 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has required that organic dairy cows spend at least 120 days out of the year eating grass on pasture, rather than grain-based feed. Read more
In March, a police officer and two animal control officers showed up at Joshua Rockwood’s farm in upstate New York. They found frozen drinking water in the barn and spotted a steer sticking his nose through the snow to access running water, Rockwood reported on his blog. Despite testing and confirming that his dogs were adequately hydrated, the officer ticketed Rockwood for failure to provide adequate sustenance. Read more