Category ArchiveHumanely Raised Beef

Humanely Raised Beef

Humanely Raised Beef

The term “humanely-raised” and “humanely-handled’ has become a popular buzz word used to describe some animal products.  Demand for humanely handled meat has been steadily growing and a growing number of small food companies are getting behind this trend and gaining market share on the big food manufacturers like ConAgra and Monsanto.

However, there is no official certification for ‘Humanely-raised’ from the USDA as there is for ‘organic’ and ‘non-GMO’.  So, if you see a label that says an animal was humanely treated, you’re stuck taking the word of that company.  This has made it tough for consumers to buy products with complete peace of mind, but this hasn’t stopped them from paying a few extra dollars for the meat package with the ‘Humanely-raised’ logo.

 

Why has Humanely Raised become so popular?

This concept comes as a reaction to recent revelations from whistle-blowers of deplorable conditions at farms owned by some of the biggest food manufacturers in the business.  Years and years of development in food production has led to mass production of meat, and unfortunately, many companies have sacrificed quality and morality in their production methods in an effort to cut costs.

Everything from kennels so small the animal can only stand and never move to bulk programs that make the cattle so big they can barely stand have been seen and criticized. The internet and social media have made images like this real and easily accessible to the everyday consumer, and as a result, more and more people are getting on the humanely-handled bandwagon.

As organic and fair-trade retail food stores such as Whole Food’s and Trader Joe’s continues to grow and expand, one this is for certain:  today’s buyer is willing to pay a little extra for products they know where produced ethically. There seems to be a growing consciousness in the modern-day consumer that is demanding companies be transparent in their production methods and find different ways of cutting costs.

 

What does Humanely-Raised meat mean?

In terms of meat, humanely-raised means that from birth to slaughter, the animal is cared for and kept in decent living conditions. For example, humanely-raised livestock tends to be free-range, grazing for natural feed versus being locked in a tight feedlot.  Typically humanely-handled livestock is not separated from their mothers at birth, and allowed to live a life very much like a wild animal would, just within the confines of the farm.

As far as food goes, humanely handled animals generally eat food that is natural to them.  For cows, that means a grass-fed diet vs. the traditional grain-fed diet preferred by large corporations.  Grass-fed cows that live in open pastures and eat their natural food are exposed to less stress and duress throughout their life and are be visibly more energetic and lively than livestock raised in large production facilities.

 

How to find humanely-handled meat?

Humanely-handled meat products are not the easiest things to source locally.  The products you buy at the super-market are rarely labeled ‘humanely-handled, and like we mentioned earlier there are no USDA regulations to using this term, so even if the label is on the product, you can’t be 100% certain that the animal was in fact raised humanely.

So what’s a consumer to do?  Well, luckily you’re on steaks.com, the best online resource for sourcing the finest organic and humanely treated meats in the US!  From here you can find local farms that will ship to you, research their farming methods (hint: they ALL treat their animals humanely), and even place an order to be shipped to your house for free!

Ok, so you prefer your meat from the market and not in the mail?  There are still options…

Given today’s information access through the Internet and the ability of mobile devices, it is quite easy for any consumer research and finds the general practices of most beef producers as well as if there have been issues in the past with news reports.

1. Do Your Homework:  

Search the label for either the farm or the production facility.  If it’s not clearly written on the label, ask the butcher at the counter or the manager at the store.  They know where they source their meat from, and if it’s local they may be able to tell you the exact farm that it was raised.  Once you have the name of the farm, let Google do the rest!

Ideally, a good beef producer should have a clean record of operation, make a point of raising and producing cattle products without the need for compacted and tight feedlots, and be able to do so without relying heavily on steroids or bulk-producing chemicals that actually hurt the animal in the process.

2. Read the Label!  

Generally, products labeled as grass-fed, free-range, and organic and non-GMO are produced by farmers that tend to use sustainable farming practices.  While the presence of these labels on the product are by no means a 100% guarantee that the animal was treated humanely, it certainly increases the likelihood that the animal was treated well.  Some of the labels to look for are;

– Grass-Fed

– Free-Range

– Non-GMO

– Antibiotic Free

– Hormone Free

– Organic

REMEMBER – If the label says ‘Humanely Raised’ don’t take it at face value!  If the producer passes inspection, it is able to keep using the relevant USDA label on its products. When it comes to the use of “humanely raised” label, a producer-only needs to provide documentation if requested to the USDA stating its treatment practices. This documentation can include people’s opinions, general statements, and affidavits. Third-party validation is not necessary.

3. Go Local!

Some of the best meats I’ve ever bought haven’t come from $200-per-person dinners or expensive supermarkets, they’ve come from real local farmers in my area!  Once you get to know where the farms are in your area that produces meat, you can simply call the farm, ask around or visit their website to learn more.  Many will even let you “come on down” to the farm to see the operation yourself.

So for the conscious consumer, sourcing, and buying humanely treated meat products can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  As this movement gains momentum, more and more shelf space is being occupied by-products that bear labels like ‘humanely-treated.’  If you’re armed with the right knowledge and the right resources, you can eat your dinner guilt-free!