People who eat meat are putting aside their cookbooks to explore the very beginning of meat preparation—slaughtering and butchering. OregonLive.com’s recent article “Conscious Carnivores, Ethical Butchers are Changing Food Culture” is a great look at the burgeoning movement to get really hands-on with your meat. People are signing up in droves to learn to butcher meat themselves and to learn about the slaughter process so that they can be assured their meat really comes from humanely raised animals. Of course, this is music to our ears—AWA has long advocated for the highest birth-to-slaughter standards and believes people should be well-educated about every step of the production process. Thoroughly knowing how meat gets from farm to table is the responsibility of everyone who enjoys a grassfed hamburger or pastured bacon.
A new report by the United Nations has added credence to the view that sustainable grazing and pasture management can significantly contribute to the fight against global climate change. Entitled, “Review on Evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change,” this paper offers much-needed discussion about the role that pasture can play in our efforts to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve these important carbon-sequestering ecosystems.
Pasturelands are under increasing pressure from development, salinization, overgrazing and transition to annual cropping for grain production (much of which goes to livestock feed). However, if properly managed they represent a carbon sink that could be even greater than forests.
By Andrew Gunther
| January 25, 2010
Tyson Foods’ recent agreement to settle a lawsuit for falsely advertising its “raised without antibiotics” chicken brand has received limited media coverage – no doubt to the relief of the company’s boardroom. And with an annual turnover of nearly $27 billion, they probably won’t sweat too much over the $5 million that the company must now shell out as compensation to unhappy customers.
In falsely marketing its chicken meat as produced from birds “raised without antibiotics” while still feeding them antibiotics, Tyson Foods was shamelessly exploiting the growing public concern over the excessive use of antibiotics in industrial farming, particularly in the form of non-therapeutic growth promoters.
But while the intensive meat industry continues to vigorously oppose any attempts to reduce antibiotic use in farming, the irony is that Tyson Foods may well have inadvertently shot itself in the foot by publicly admitting that the overuse of certain antibiotics in industrial farming really is a threat to human health.
This Lil’ Piggy Farm, located in Weirsdale, Florida, is owned and operated by Rhonda Williams. Rhonda breeds and raises Heritage Yorkshire, Duroc, and Gloucester Old Spot mix or F3 breeding. She also specializes in working with FFA/4-H groups, as well as family farms. Rhonda has been raising pigs for most of her life and is happy to be guiding the next generation of farmers by providing training to others. Rhonda believes it is important to personally spend time with the animals she raises and to educate consumers about the importance of choosing environmentally responsible and high-welfare pork. Please visit http://lilpiggy.webs.com for more information.
Dale and Sharon Thomson raise Certified AWA beef cattle and laying hens the way nature intended at Hilltop Angus Farm in Mount Gilead, nestled on the edge of the beautiful Uwharrie National Forest in central North Carolina.
Where does our school food come from and how is it produced?
To investigate some of these issues, Animal Welfare Approved sponsored a one-week, three-city tour for the UK Dinner Lady, Jeanette Orrey. Jeanette is credited with changing school food in the UK, and AWA sponsored this visit to promote cross cultural dialogue and share her experiences with people working to make change in several US school districts. Following two days in New York City, the tour continued south (via Amtrak), to Baltimore City Public Schools and Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools. (Pictured: Nancy Easton and Chef Bill Telepan of NYC nonprofit, Wellness in the Schools and Baltimore City Schools’ Great Kids Farm Manager Greg Strella.)
We had a great visit yesterday with our friends at Queens County Farm Museum. Pictured is Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, Executive Director, Jeanette Orrey, UK Dinner Lady, Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director and Michael Grady Robertson, Director of Agriculture for the Queens Farm. Our discussion focused on nutritious school food and ways we can work together to effect changes. The Farm hosts more than 250,000 school children annually who get the opportunity to see live farm animals and get an idea of where their food comes from. Joining us on this continuing journey were Chef Bill Telepan, Wellness in the Schools’ Nancy Easton and AWA staffer Brigid Sweeney.
Jeanette Orrey visits NYCAnimal Welfare Approved staff members Andrew Gunther, Beth Hauptle and Brigid Sweeney were thrilled to welcome Jeanette Orrey, the U.K. “Dinner Lady” on her first visit to the United States. On our first day of a three-city, week-long tour, we visited three public schools in the New York City System: PS 87, PS 84 and Fiorello Laguardia HS (the Fame school)!
We were joined by our friend Bill Telepan, of Telepan restaurant of course, and Nancy Easton, both with Wellness in the Schools, a non-profit working to support healthy school food in NYC.
Animal Welfare Approved, the nation’s leading certification label for family farmers raising their animals with high welfare standards, is hosting Jeanette Orrey, the United Kingdom’s famous “Dinner Lady” (that would be a lunch lady on this side of the pond) the week of January 11th. Orrey is a leader in the U.K.’s efforts to provide school lunches made of fresh, local organic food. She will be visiting with school officials, farmers and proponents of healthy school lunches in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia.
Accompanying Orrey on her journey will be Animal Welfare Approved staff, Bill Telepan, chef/owner of Manhattan’s Telepan Restaurant, and Nancy Easton, a New York City teacher for 20 years. Telepan is a long-time Animal Welfare Approved supporter and a board member of Wellness in the Schools. Wellness in the Schools is a grassroots organization that promotes children’s environmental health, nutrition and fitness within the New York City public schools. Easton co-founded Wellness in the Schools and serves on its board. The New York City school system serves approximately 1.1 million students.
| January 6, 2010
Yet another article highlights the importance of consumer engagement in food labeling.
According to LancasterOnline.com’s Mary Beth Schweigert, lack of oversight in National Organic Program has created a “chasm between consumer expectations and actual industry practices.” Ms. Schwigert notes the challenges that the NOP, now in its twelfth year, faces in terms of its dual mission to protect agriculture while simultaneously protecting the consumer.
The NOP has drawn significant criticism on its lax pasture requirements – 80,000 public comments to be exact. However, even adequate standards are only as good as the enforcement behind them. Schwigert reports a startlingly low number of citations in the first seven years of the program – only $20,000 for three fraudulent operators in a $23 billion U.S. organic food industry.
National Organic Coalition (an industry watchdog group) policy coordinator Liana Hoodes responded to this issue, explaining that strong national organic regulations are worthless without consistent oversight and enforcement. She added, “It will either clean up its act or get surpassed by many other labels.”