Website Helps Sort Through Humane Claims


eh_eggsLike everyone else with a greenish and foodie-ish bent, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food recently. Loved them both, but it was Omnivore’s Dilemma that was pretty much a life-changer for me. We’ve decided to try, whenever possible, to make sure our meat and eggs come from farms that raise and kill their animals humanely, which means having meatless days a few times a week so we can afford it.

However, I find it really hard to sort out all the claims on food labels. It’s not always feasible for me to buy meat at the farmer’s market (and it’s not always available there, either) where I can ask the farmers themselves questions, and many of them have pictures of the farm itself at their stalls. When I am forced into the grocery store to buy meat, I’d love to know where I can buy humanely-raised products and which of the dizzyingly huge variety of labels out there actually means something.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals has a new site,, that helps decode what label claims actually mean, and sorts them into good, better and best. For example, the “no hormones” claim on pork or poultry means nothing because it’s against the law to administer hormones to pigs or birds on the farm. Free range in the case of chickens, or cage free, doesn’t mean much either, but ‘pasture-raised’ just might. USDA Certified Organic, too, is a “better” choice.

Now that more and more of us are giving serious thought to where our food comes from, marketers are out to capture our well-meaning dollars with nice-sounding claims, especially since consumers have shown we’re willing to pay for the privilege of better food. I needed a reference like this to ensure that the meat on which I spend my money is actually something I want to put in my mouth.