The MeaT To eaT

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					The MeaT To eaT

Sustainably raised meat is fantastic; it tastes great,           benefits. Compared to factory farmed meat, sustainable
it’s produced without destroying the environment                 meat from animals raised on pasture contains less fat,
or threatening public health, and its sale supports              fewer calories, and higher levels of essential omega-3
responsible farmers who choose to use sound agri-                fatty acids, vitamin E, beta carotene, and other important
cultural practices. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive           nutrients. As an added benefit, sustainably raised meat is
to raise animals sustainably than to mass-produce                produced without the use of growth hormones, nonthera-
them on a factory farm (these industrial operations              peutic antibiotics, or unsavory feed additives that under-
benefit from hefty government subsidies — and don’t              mine public health. And of course, unlike factory farms,
have to pay for the damage they cause). as a result,             sustainable farms don’t sicken workers and neighbors by
sustainably raised meat usually costs more than the              spewing harmful pollutants into the environment.
cheap meat churned out by factory farms.
                                                                 food SafeTy
But don’t be discouraged; you and your family can still en-      Sustainably raised meats are typically processed either on
joy sustainable meat — even if you’re on a tight budget, by      the farm, or at small-scale facilities that cater to small-
choosing quality over quantity. Why not experiment? One          scale farmers and strive to maintain high standards of food
week, take the money you would have spent on meat, and           safety. Factory farmed meat is chopped up at huge, in-
use it to buy a smaller amount of sustainably raised meat        dustrial slaughterhouses where rapid production lines dra-
at your local farmers’ market, food coop or health food          matically increase the risk of contamination by foodborne
store. While you will eat less meat that week, you may           pathogens. As a result, these industrial processing facili-
find that you don’t miss the factory farmed stuff one bit        ties have been associated with major outbreaks of food-
when you taste the delicious, sustainable alternative. And,      borne illness such as E. coli — and are periodically forced
with Americans, on average, eating twice as much meat            to conduct massive recalls of tainted meat in order to con-
as is recommended for a healthy diet, eating less meat of        tain the damage done to the public. Although pathogens
higher quality may be just what the doctor ordered.              can contaminate any type of food, the abysmal safety re-
                                                                 cord of factory farmed meat from mega-slaughterhouses
A few benefits of sustainably raised meat:                       leads many consumers to choose sustainably raised meat
SUperior TaSTe
Most people agree that sustainably raised foods simply           farMS and CoMMUniTieS
taste better than anything produced by industrial agricul-       Purchasing sustainably raised meat helps support farmers
ture. Ever compared a fresh tomato from a farmers’ mar-          who raise livestock responsibly. Given the dramatic shift
ket to a tomato grown on a megafarm and shipped before           towards industrial megafarms and the get-big-or-get-out
it’s even ripened? There’s a dramatic difference. Likewise,      philosophy of agriculture, it’s more important than ever to
you can expect sustainably raised meats to be much more          support the small family farms that continue to raise fresh,
flavorful than factory farmed varieties. It’s no surprise that   nutritious meat and produce using sustainable agricultural
top restaurants and chefs choose to serve sustainable            practices. Family farms also play a vital role in rural areas,
meat — it just tastes better!                                    stimulating local economies, strengthening community
                                                                 ties, and protecting natural resources for future genera-
healTh BenefiTS                                                  tions. You can make your food dollars count by supporting
Sustainably raised meats have a wide range of nutritional        these farms when you purchase meat.
The MeaT To eaT (COnT.)

aniMal healTh                                                 “pasture-raised”
On sustainable farms, animals are treated humanely;           In general, pasturing is a traditional farming technique
they’re able to graze on pasture, carry out natural be-       where animals are raised outdoors in a humane, ecologi-
haviors, and live without undue stress or cruel treatment.    cally sustainable manner and eat foods that nature intend-
Factory farms, on the other hand, severely compromise         ed them to eat rather than being fattened on a feedlot or
animal welfare by cramming livestock into small, enclosed     in a confined facility.
buildings where filthy, crowded conditions lead to exces-
sive stress and widespread disease. These animals suffer      “non-confined”
needlessly so that factory farms can produce cheap meat,      This label indicates that the animals had continuous ac-
and this cruelty is subsidized with your tax dollars.         cess to the outside throughout their lifecycle but does not
                                                              guarantee that they actually went outside.
environMenTal BenefiTS
Factory farms have devastating impacts on the environ-        “organic”
ment, continuously polluting air, surface water, ground-      In order to be labeled “organic”, a product, its producer,
water, and soil with a host of hazardous contaminants.        and the farm where the ingredients come from must meet
Fortunately, sustainable farms recognize the importance       the USDA’s organic standards and must be certified by a
of environmental stewardship, and use responsible agricul-    USDA-approved food-certifying agency. Organic foods can-
tural practices to protect the environment for future gen-    not be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sew-
erations. When you buy meat from a sustainable farm, you      age sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot
help support these efforts.                                   be irradiated. Organic meat and poultry must be fed only
                                                              organically-grown feed (without any animal byproducts) and
reading The laBelS                                            cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. Ruminants
Packaged meat labeling can be confusing. Here are a few       must have access to pasture (but don’t actually have to go
definitions to be aware of:                                   outdoors and graze on pasture to be considered organic).

“grass-fed”                                                   geT The good STUff!
Industrial animal farms rely on corn and soy as a cheap       Ready to switch to sustainable? Find local sources of
source of protein-rich feed. However, ruminants like cows     sustainably raised meat using the Eat Well Guide (www.
have stomachs that evolved to digest grasses and other — just type in your zip code to find
forage. As a result, when these animals are fed a grain-      good food in your area.
heavy diet, they often have digestive problems, poor liver
health, and, in extreme cases, their diet can kill them.      See Sustainable Table’s Glossary of Meat Production Meth-
Sustainably raised animals eat grasses from weaning to        ods     (
slaughter. Their diet should not be supplemented with         glossary_of_meat_production.pdf) for more informa-
grain, animal byproducts, or synthetic hormones. They         tion on meat labeling.
should not be given antibiotics to promote growth or pre-
vent disease (though they may be given antibiotics to treat

           To learn more about sustainable local food, visit Sustainable Table at

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