Marissa Buchanan dives into the confusing world of poultry labels to help us understand some of the industry and advertising terminology and make a case for A Greener World’s classifications. (All photos by author.)
There are so many labels on food now-a-days that it can get confusing quick to find one that it truly cruelty free. Labels such as “All Natural”, “No Antibiotics”, and “Non-GMO” can be misleading to the consumer. These labels are not regularly audited and there are no regulatory agencies over them.
Even an “Organic” label can be misleading if it is self-claimed and is not a USDA label. While the product may be organic, Animal welfare may be lacking. Organic animals can be denied access to sunlight and pastures. The “Cage-Free” label is also another tricky label. While the egg laying hens may not be subjected to small cages, they may be overcrowded in a poultry barn again not allowed access to pasture or free-ranging opportunities. They can also be exposed to artificial light to increase their egg laying year around.
“Free-Range” labels are also misleading in the sense that the USDA does monitor it, but they only require that the hens have access to outdoors. They can still be kept in a large lot outdoors on concrete, gravel, or pavement. They can still be overcrowded and may not even get to go outside, but if they have “access” to go outside, they are considered “cage free”.
Other labels that aren’t monitored by governmental agencies include: Pasture raised, Farm Fresh, Vegetarian Diet, Humanely raised, and even Artisan.
A label that you can trust.
I’d like to make a case for using the system that A Greener World does. Their certifications go far beyond what I expected and are more comprehensive and focused on sustainability than the USDA’s. Not only do they promote sustainable farming, they also promote the best care imaginable for the animals.
My farm is Animal Welfare Approved and I can personally attest to their audit. It is nerve-racking, tedious, and well worth it. Our auditor was very informative and related to our operations personally.
They also stand by their certifications. If a farm has a fail, they work with them positively to help them establish a better course of understanding of what it means to the animals involved. Their slaughtering processes are very stringent for good reasoning. They ensure that the death is painless and handled with the utmost respect and care to the animals.
With all of the negatives about factory farming and agriculture in general, A Greener World’s certifications are a breath of fresh air. They look at how the animals are born, transported, slaughtered, cared for, and ensure that they have the most natural life possible.
Better Mandated Practices for Sustainability
A Natural Life
One area that stood out in our audit was the prohibiting of unnatural behaviors. They want your animal welfare approved animals to have the most natural life possible. With poultry and waterfowl, this means that they have free range capabilities and you must let your hens brood.Antibiotics are only on an “as-needed” basis while vaccinations are also recommended. Hormones are not allowed.
An Easy Death
If you have to go off farm for slaughtering, you must use a humane kill USDA slaughterhouse. Rotational grazing is also a recommended practice. They also have processing equipment that you can borrow and educational materials for your customers.
Information pertaining to A Greener World and their practices can be found at https://agreenerworld.org/
(The opinions expressed are the author’s.)
Marissa Buchanan grew up an active member of Future Farmers of America. She was raised and on a cow farm and has experience with gardening, poultry conservation, animal assisted therapy, gardening therapy, and hosts the Heritage Breeds Festival in Riceville, TN, bi-annually. She served in the Tennessee National Guard for 10 years as a combat medic and received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. Marissa is currently the owner of Buchanan’s Barnyard, a mini-pig rescue and poultry conservation farm. She is a mom to two toddlers and is married to her high school sweetheart. Follow her on Facebook.