Why it matters where you get your meat

Making the rounds on our Facebook timeline this morning is this NPR article about reform (or the lack thereof) in the commercial meat industry.

In short: In 2008 the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released a report (PDF) on commercial meat production and a roadmap on how the system could improve on environmental, animal health, and human health criteria. This year, a different group’s report (also PDF) indicates that the industry has actually gotten worse on all fronts.

This is really sad, and scary, and reinforces our conviction to do better.

There are a few things customers can always trust about our methods and our products:

  • We do not medicate animals unless they need it, but we make sure to do so if they do need it because to do otherwise would not be in keeping with our animal welfare standards. (This policy of treating when needed is also in keeping with Organic standards — animals that need antibiotics must be medicated even if it means you then have to withdraw them from the Organic program.)
  • If we have to medicate animals, we will always tell you, so you can make an informed decision about your meat.
  • In our pasture-based system of raising animals, the industrial concerns about manure collection and pollution are basically nonexistent. Our animals are on pasture during as much of the year as possible, distributing their manure themselves, thus fertilizing and enriching the soil as they go. We then bring them into the barn in the winter when the soil is not able to absorb the nutrients they are distributing — this has to do with soil temperature and precipitation, and will be a different date every year. This process protects the soil from compaction when wet, and also protects our waterways from runoff.
    Manure collected while animals are in the barn for the winter will be composted thoroughly before being returned to the fields and the garden as fertilizer. In this way, no nutrients are wasted; our grass-based animals are part of a closed loop system on the farm. (Chickens and pigs need grain, which for the time being we are purchasing.)
  • We want our animals to be truly free-ranging as much as possible. We will always do our best to make decisions that take into account the maximal health and happiness of our animals, the integrity and health of the soil, and other environmental concerns. This will be a balancing act, because sometimes those things might be in conflict. We won’t always get it right, but we’ll always try to back our decisions with rationale and reasoning, and we will always be flexible, seek ways to improve, and welcome your ideas on how to do so.


Related posts focusing on antibiotic use in industrial meat production:
On chickens and antibiotics (you can see how our understanding of the Organic standards has grown in the past year!)
Oh look, the same story, but about pigs.

  2 comments for “Why it matters where you get your meat

  1. Judith
    November 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I would also be interested in information about your slaughter and packaging practices. Specifically, I’d like to know if your chicken carcasses are water- or air-chilled.

  2. November 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Judith — that’s a great question; thanks for asking. Our birds are currently water-chilled. We’re interested in air-chilling but haven’t looked into what equipment would be required and what the cost would be.

    If this is a deal-breaker for you, we’d love to hear (here or over email, or whatever) why, and what your concerns are. We always welcome and encourage feedback and we love keeping in touch with what customers are thinking about and looking for.

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