5 Ways You Can Support Ethical Agriculture
The relationship between factory farming and the environment is a huge issue in the modern world. In the U.S. alone, more than nine billion animals per year are raised and slaughtered to produce meat, dairy products and eggs in factory conditions. This has a number of negative impacts in terms of the treatment of animals and the effect on the wider environment.
Factory farming exploits animals for maximum commercial profit. Animals live in cramped conditions, preventing normal behavior. Meanwhile, selective breeding and the chemical-laden food used to enhance growth cause a number of health conditions for the animals, which go on to be prematurely executed.
In relation to the wider environment, the pollution from factory farming is known to cause nausea, infections and respiratory problems for residents living near the farm. According to the Organic Consumers Association, waste from the factory farming of hogs, cattle and chicken has already polluted the rivers of 22 states, covering over 35,000 miles of water.
One thing you can do to lessen the impact of factory farming is to stop buying food produced this way. Here we offer five alternatives to help you avoid the products of factory farming and support ethical agriculture.
Always Check the Label
Whether at a large supermarket or local grocery store, you can buy meat and animal products of different quality and source, ranging from factory farming to locally sourced items. Choosing produce labeled “certified organic” is a good place to start to avoid factory-farmed meats, but this doesn’t indicate the very best level of animal welfare.
On top of “certified organic,” you should also be looking for products that are Animal Welfare Approved, American Grassfed Certified and those ranked level 4 and above on the Animal Welfare Rating Standards.
Shop with Independent Grocery Stores
Independent grocery stores offer a wider range of produce from smaller local farms than large chain supermarkets. They are less likely to stock the produce of factory farming. Furthermore, owners and employees are likely to have close connections with the farmers that provide food to them and will be able to give you valuable information about their ethical products.
Check Out Your Local Farmers Market
In recent years, farmers markets have grown in popularity across the U.S. and especially in the South. They are an excellent way to buy food without supporting the factory farming industry. Have a look online to find your nearest farmers market, where you can purchase fresh and local produce. Always ask the stall-holders where their meat has come from, but you’re more likely than not to find meat products with a high level of animal welfare at a local market.
Browse Farms Online
The internet is a great way to avoid products resulting from factory farming. Many ranches and farms have branched out to have online stores over the last few years, meaning that you can buy produce directly through their website. An ethical farm will post plenty of pictures of the animals that they rear and provide information about their welfare. Avoid online farm stores that only photograph the meat with no additional information.
You can also find Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) online, which are subscription-based orders through which you buy shares of a farm’s produce and receive regular shipments.
Cut Out Ready Meals
While ready meals make a quick and easy dinner, they are unfortunately most likely to have the poorest quality of meat and dairy products in them. This is because the individual products within the ready meal are harder to trace, so they often use factory-farmed animals.
Join the fight against factory farming today. Consider where you buy your meat and dairy products from. Even better, reduce your meat consumption in favor of a more plant-based diet.
Photo by Alex Proimos from Flickr Creative Commons.