Spoofing the subject of farm animal treatment may initially break the piercing ice on this serious subject, but the reality of farm animal abuse is truly a horror show. Documentaries such as Food, Inc. have shed harrowing light on the deplorable treatment of animals raised on large, corporate farms around the United States.
Bound in cages or tethered to posts, these animals are treated like commodities rather than
sentient beings. They are stuffed with antibiotics to ward off inevitable infections and “manhandled” from birth to slaughter. As consumers, our only interaction with them is when they arrive in packaged form in our grocery stores or land on our plates at dinner. We may feel confounded as to how we can help these animals; however, our acts of kindness can be as simple as purchasing meat and dairy with the Certified Humane label.
Similar to the Certified Organic label, foods containing the Certified Humane label undergo a rigorous review by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the national non-profit organization created to advocate for superior farm animal welfare standards through all stages of the animals’ lives. A committee of preeminent animal scientists and veterinarians experienced with farm animal treatment and proficient in farm animal research have designed the exemplary certified standards, which include:
- a prohibited use of growth hormones and antibiotics on livestock
- living quarters that enable animals to move freely according to their nature (a.k.a. chickens flapping wings in dust baths)
- livestock having access to clean and nutritious food and water
- all animals having sufficient protection from the elements and the weather as well as living in an environment that nourishes well being
- thoroughly trained and expertly knowledgeable managers and caretakers of animals
- farmers and ranchers complying with food safety and environmental regulations
HFCA’s regulatory and monitoring efforts are further supported by such heavy weight exponents of animal welfare as ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States. Nonetheless, their efforts toward change continue to require the support and voice of the consuming public. While purchasing free range eggs and grass fed meat is a shift in the right direction, HFCA reports that farm animal treatment is not necessarily at acceptable standards. To ensure that farm animals receive the zenith of treatment they deserve and to ensure that we are receiving the best quality food products, HFCA encourages us to purchase foods that embody the Certified Humane symbol and to take action in our own communities.
*Pig image from Animal Welfare Institute