Recent Articles About Animal Welfare

The North American Meat Institute, which represents nearly all meat and poultry producers in the U.S., appears eager to see the The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) solidified.

“We support free trade, and improved access to EU markets is of great interest to our members as there is strong demand in the EU for high quality U.S. meat and poultry,” the Institute said in a recent statement. “We are hopeful that TTIP would expand trade opportunities and our ability to deliver safe food to the EU market.” Read more

The first film from Season 4 of The Perennial Plate, our web documentary series about sustainable food, takes place in Del Norte, Colorado. It follows Keri Brandt, a former vegetarian and associate professor of Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies at Fort Lewis University, as she shares how she came to terms with raising and eating animals after marrying into a Colorado ranching family. The Off family has been raising cattle for close to 150 years in Southern Colorado, where there’s a long history of ranching. Read more

What do chickens in cramped cages and pigs in tight crates have to do with elephants in circuses, orcas at SeaWorld, or tigers hunted down as trophies?

According to Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), all of these animals are being liberated, so to speak, by a new “humane economy,” in which consumers (including humane meat eaters) are driving corporations to improve their animal welfare standards.

In Pacelle’s new book, The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals, he argues that within vastly different industries—agriculture, tourism, medicine, beauty—consumers are making their preferences about animal welfare known, largely through what their purchasing choices. Read more

Elsie Herring stays indoors on the days the industrial hog farm next door sprays manure from a lagoon-like holding pit across the field that ends eight feet from her kitchen window. Because a filthy mist coats her property if the wind is blowing from the west, Herring has learned to avoid activities like sitting on her porch, grilling outside, hanging laundry on the line, opening windows, and drinking water from the well.

Herring lives in Duplin County, North Carolina, on a plot of land her family has owned for more than a century. Located in the eastern part of the state, Duplin contains more than 18.5 million confined animals, including 2.3 million hogs. In Herring’s part of the state, pigs outnumber people almost 40 to one. Read more

In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed new Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) in an effort to bring greater consistency and transparency” to the USDA organic standards. If the new rules are finalized, the Obama administration is poised to institute a set of long-awaited changes that could improve animal welfare in four areas of organic livestock and poultry practices, including living conditions, healthcare, transport, and slaughter. Read more

At Market Table Bistro in Lovestville, Virginia, you can order a sustainable, pasture-raised cheeseburger with sautéed onions, herb mayo, cheese, and bacon for $14. At the nearby fast-casual Elevation Burger in Ashburn, Virginia, the standard two-patty organic grassfed burger will set you back about $7. Travel to the closest Hardee’s, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and the double all-natural grassfed burger there will cost you approximately $6.49 or about $4.89 for a single.

The demand for grassfed beef is growing by at least 20 percent a year in the U.S. and the number of restaurants and burger chains serving grassfed and pasture-raised burgers is also growing rapidly. But just how they define and verify the practices behind those terms can be murky business. (We covered some of that here). While some sustainable food advocates find the growth of the entire grassfed industry to be a heartening sign of shifting mass market demand, the grassfed burger market may be growing so quickly that it’s undermining some of the original intention behind the shift. Read more

A few weeks ago, we introduced our readers to Patrick Holden, a farmer and the director of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust. This weekend, Patrick is bringing together hundreds of scientists, advocates, business leaders, and journalists for a three-day conference in San Francisco on the True Cost of American Food. He points out that while food in the developed world is cheaper than at any other point in history, the resources required to grow and make it—and the environmental and health impacts of doing so—are costing governments and taxpayers a great deal. Read more