Animal Welfare Approved

Give Thanks for Pasture-Raised Food

AWA Releases New Guide to Real Grassfed Beef

By Andrew Gunther | November 30, 2011

We are pleased to announce that the in-depth guide to the benefits of grassfed beef is now available from Animal Welfare Approved. The Grassfed Primer: Your Guide to the Benefits of Grassfed Beef covers the history of U.S. beef production and the rise of modern intensive farming systems, and provides a detailed description of the wide-ranging benefits that grassfed cattle systems can have for human health, the environment and animal welfare.

As the range of products, labels, and brands making grassfed claims continues to expand, The Grassfed Primer is designed to cut through the confusion and provide an informative, easy-to-digest introduction to the benefits of real grassfed and pasture-raised beef.

The 20-page publication includes chapters titled “Grassfed, health, welfare and the environment,” “The problem with feedlots” and “How do I know it’s grassfed?” Written in an accessible and informal style, the booklet also contains full scientific references for further reading and research.

AWA Announces New Labeling Resources for Farmers and Consumers

By Emily | November 17, 2011

In response to farmer interest in labeling, Animal Welfare Approved has launched a new labeling section. The site is designed to help farmers and processors navigate the labeling process and serves as the portal for accessing Animal Welfare Approved’s free labeling service for certified farms. Featuring labeling guidance, information on claims approval and a gallery of approved labels, the new site and service can save producers time and effort in creating an attractive, effective label for certified products. And as with AWA certification, there is no charge for this service for farmers in the program. Farms interested in certification should visit AWA’s Certification page for more information.

Farmers and processors can use the information in AWA’s new online labeling resource to help distinguish their pastured products in the marketplace, and consumers and retailers will be able to use these resources to ensure they are sourcing sustainable products.The launch of AWA’s new labeling section coincides with the release of “Food Labeling for Dummies,” AWA’s new comprehensive guide for consumers.

U.K.’s Health Protection Agency Warns Against Industrial Farms

By Andrew Gunther | November 10, 2011

When a government’s independent advisory agency on human health publicly objects to proposals for a new industrial hog operation because of the risks it poses to human health, people tend to take heed.

This is exactly what has happened in a small but very significant planning battle taking place in Great Britain. Midland Pig Producers (MPP) has applied to build a state-of-the-art indoor hog production unit in Derbyshire, which would hold 2,500 sows and produce around 1,000 hogs a week for slaughter – one of the biggest industrial hog farms in the country. But in what might prove to be a fatal blow to MPP’s plans, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) – the U.K. government’s independent advisory body on health – has raised a number of human health concerns about the proposal, including the fact that “recent research has found that those living up to 150m [165 yards] downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms.”

GM Labeling Bill Dies in North Carolina

By Andrew Gunther | October 6, 2011

Have we just witnessed Big Ag’s first legislative strike against labeling of genetically modified foods in one of Big Ag’s home states?

North Carolina Rep. Glen Bradley, an advocate for consumer rights introduced a bill earlier this year to require labeling of genetically modified foods. House Bill 446 sought to require “labeling of food and milk products sold in this state that are or that contain genetically modified food and or milk and milk products from animals that have received recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).” First introduced on March 23, 2011 it was passed the very next day to the Agriculture Committee where it promptly withered and died. A representative from the office of House Bill 446 co-sponsor Rep. Bill Faison told us that it was highly unlikely to be revived this year.

If I were a cynical person, I would speculate that we have Big Ag to thank for this bill’s death. Why? Because industrial agricultural companies are the only entities that profit from our ignorance of what is in our food.

Greening our Food Deserts from the Ground Up

By Andrew Gunther | October 3, 2011

One of the things I love most about my job as program director at Animal Welfare Approved is that I get to meet people who are literally changing the world from the ground up. Ron Finley is the perfect example, except that he’s not the typical farmer or rancher whom I usually meet. He grows fruit and vegetables on an urban community garden: a 10ft by 150ft strip of land between the sidewalk and the curb in front of his house in Crenshaw, south central Los Angeles.

I bumped into Finley at the recent Good Food Festival in Santa Monica, CA. We got talking and he told me about his recent successful fight with city bureaucrats over his community garden and the grassroots initiative he’s set up to help urban communities to grow healthy, organic food for themselves. From the outset I liked the man, and we were clearly fighting the same fight, just on very different fronts. His story was as inspirational as anything I had seen or heard before.

Antibiotic Resistance: Consider the Source

By Andrew Gunther | September 17, 2011

When it comes to public relations there is spin and there is downright deceit. A recent press release from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) on the potential link between antibiotic resistant bacteria and industrialized farming definitely falls into the latter category. At issue here is a statement released by National Pork Producers Council President Doug Wolf on the new Government Accountability Office report, “Antibiotic Resistance: Agencies Have Made Limited Progress Addressing Antibiotic Use in Animals.” Wolf says, “Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the U.S. pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn’t even adequate data to conduct a study.” He continues, “The GAO report on antibiotic resistance issued today confirms this.”

Wolf’s comments are hogwash and he knows it. The truth is that the GAO report does nothing of the sort, nor was that ever its intention. Even from the report title it’s already pretty clear what the overall conclusion is: key government agencies – namely the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) which are primarily responsible for ensuring food safety in the U.S. – are not doing enough to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria to public health.

AWA Announces Landmark Sustainable Meat Conference

By Animal Welfare Approved | September 14, 2011

George Washington University’s Urban Food Task Force, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) have joined forces by providing a platform for DC’s vibrant culinary community to focus on strengthening the supply chain for sustainably raised meat.

Food for thought – and sport!

By Andrew Gunther | August 13, 2011

Ever heard of the term “you are what you eat?” Well, no one takes this more seriously than today’s top athletes. They need to ensure that their bodies receive the correct balance of nutrients and energy and avoid potentially harmful additives. So it’s no surprise to find that top athletes are turning to sustainably produced foods to ensure their success.

I know this first-hand from conversations I have had with Will Witherspoon, linebacker for the Tennessee Titans – and sustainable farmer. Will is a unique human being; a gentle, humble and quiet spoken man whose day job is making the quarterback’s life as uncomfortable as possible. He’s also passionate about producing sustainable, healthy and nutritious food on his family farm, Shire Gate Farm, near Owensville, Missouri.

Through our farming connection, I have been very fortunate to have got to know Will and he’s become a family friend. On several occasions, he has given both my sons one of those talks that only a true sportsman can. As any dad knows, we can talk until we are blue in the face about the need to eat well and look after yourself, and to dedicate yourself to your sport. Yet after one minute chat with Will, my boys are immediately re-energized and focused.

Cargill’s Turkey is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

By Andrew Gunther | August 5, 2011

How many more lives must be lost or irreversibly damaged before we finally accept the fact that industrialized farming is killing us? So far, the contamination from a new strain of Salmonella (Salmonella Heidelberg) has resulted in one death in California and at least 79 illnesses across 26 states. According to reports, it appears the outbreak “officially” began in March 2011, when a growing number of cases of Salmonella Heidelberg were noted. However, the FSIS didn’t issue a public warning until July 29, and even then this was a broad statement about potential links with ground turkey. Questions are already being asked about the significant time lag between the March detection of the spike in cases, the FSIS announcement in late July, and Cargill’s voluntary withdrawal in early August. But I have far graver concerns about this outbreak.

While any outbreak of food poisoning is horrific, and the immediate focus must be to treat those affected and identify the source, few people seem to be discussing the larger public health issue: this particular strain of Salmonella is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Scientists around the world link this resistance to years of misuse of medicinally important antibiotics by the intensive farming industry. Virtually all intensively farmed animals in the U.S. receive low levels of antibiotics throughout their lives as growth promoters to help maximize production. While this lowers the price tag on industrial protein, the practice encourages bacteria to quickly become resistant to antibiotics – the same antibiotics we use to treat ourselves. In fact, some dangerous bacteria are now resistant to multiple antibiotics. This means that when we get infected, there are fewer and fewer options for treatment. And we are fast running out of options altogether.