November 3-9 2014
Before his passing in 2013, Mark Newman was known to many for his generous spirit and kind heart. For Mark, neighbors were like family. Mark’s animals were treated with the utmost respect. Mark raised heritage breed pigs outdoors and was a great advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Mark was an inspiration to many, and the world is better for it.
Like Mark, Adele Douglass also fights for the humane treatment of animals. She sat down with us to talk about what it means to be “certified humane”.
Can humanely treated animals actually be good for us and the environment? Nicolette Hahn Niman, famed author, lawyer and environmental advocate certainly thinks so. Her knew book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” is a must read.
Forest-raised pigs might be the bucolic vision we’ve all cherished since childhood, but sadly, in many instances, it’s not reality. In “Animal Welfare” Grace Communications talks about the issue and offers solutions.
Purchasing meat at a local level is a great way to make sure the animal has been treated humanely from birth to slaughter and beyond. Civil Eats offers an inspiring tale.
The Clark Summit Farm has been in Liz Cunninghame’s family since 1916. Her grandfather had thousands of laying hens, 30 jersey cows, pigs and turkeys. Gloucester Old Spot pigs were raised outdoors and typically left to forage in pastures and orchards.
These heritage breed English pigs, known as Gloucester Old Spots, nearly disappeared with the advent of factory farming but have recently made a comeback on small family farms like this one, where the pigs roam freely on 160 acres.
Animal welfare affects the entire meat industry, and is often not understood by consumers. Adele Douglass addresses what it means to be “certified humane” and how this label distinguishes itself from conventional livestock practices. She explains how she became involved in the issue and describes the economic benefits of this certification.
Q: What made you become interested in the humane treatment of farm animals?
I was asked to be on a committee that was rewriting I mean that’s all, those are state rights, those are state laws if there are any issues. And so, there is however, if you’re doing research on lab animals, there are laws that protect them. And if you’re at a university, and you’re doing research on farm animals, even if it’s research on how to raise them and stuff [6:30], that falls under that act. the Ag Guide, a guide for the use of agricultural animals in research and teaching. And Tthe first time I saw a pregnant sal, a gestating sal sow in a stall, or (inaudible 7:33laying hens) stuffed in cages, I was absolutely stunned.
Because My first reaction was “I am sure that I am not the only one who doesn’t have a clue. I can’t believe that in all these years I had no idea and I think most consumers have no idea either.” And I thought, “Somebody has to do something about this”. So I I started the organization.
We have a lot of organic producers that are Certified Humane and there are non-GMO producers that are also Certified Humane. Organic is about agricultural inputs and what the animals eat. There are no slaughter standards in Organic; it’s concerned with what chemicals are used in the slaughter plant. Non-GMO is concerned with feed. The certifications actually complement one another.
Q: Have you had any success working with industrial agriculture?
The biggest success we had was working with Safeway. Four years ago, Safeway contracted us, wanting their Cage Free and Organic eggs to be “Certified Humane”. It took four years to achieve. Some of their farmers were dragged into the process kicking and screaming because they didn’t want to change their operations in order to meet our program.
The egg producers said to us, “We have to build perches and add dust bathing area. That’s inconvenient and going to cost us money.” Space is another expressed issue. Even though the chickens live cage-free, we have a space requirement preventing overcrowding in barns. Because of the space requirement, producers may have to start stocking less birds. Which gets them thinking, “If I have less birds, it’s going to be less money”. That’s where they were coming from.
Safeway won in the end. We did an announcement at the end of December that all of Safeway’s Cage Free and Organic eggs are Certified Humane across the country.
Q: Starting in the 1940s, we saw a cultural shift where food began to be treated as a commodity. Does Humane Farm Animal Care make good sense business-wise?
It does. First of all, when you raise the animals right, you don’t have to give them antibiotics since their immune systems are not stressed and they’re not getting sick. When you’re not spending money on antibiotics, and your animals are not getting sick, you have better production. That’s a whole misconception that if you raise them the right way, it’s going to cost you more. For example, raising pigs outdoors is cheaper than having barns full of gestation stalls.
Q: How can we contribute to a more sustainable food system simply by how we care for the animals we keep?
Our standards are written to meet the physiological and behavioral needs of the animal. So that’s the number one way to contribute; meet our standards beyond our program. Another way is for consumers to buy products that are Certified Human because that rewards the farms and tells the retailers that they’re not going to get away with just going anywhere to buy cheap food. This let’s consumers vote with their wallets.
Adele Douglass, Chief Executive Officer, Humane Farm Animal Care, initiated the concept of humane certification for farm animal products in the U.S., beginning with her launch of the Free Farmed program for Farm Animal Services. Ms. Douglass founded and directs all programs and activities of Humane Farm Animal Care, and their major program, Certified Humane®. As a result of her years showing businesses how humane farm animal care can meet bottom-line interests, she serves as an invited participant on numerous industry animal welfare committees including for the Food Marketing Institute, National Council of Chain Restaurants, and Burger King. Douglass also serves on the Board of The Center for Food Safety.
But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.
The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.
In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment.
The author—a longtime vegetarian—goes on to dispel popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false. She shows how foods from cattle—milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass—are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.
In Parma, Perennial Plate introduces us to Carlo Pavesi one of the men behind some of the best prosciutto in the region: La Corte dei Neri. Carlo showed us his pigs and shares with us his deep love of his animals.
The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.
The Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) certification identifies farms that treat their animals, from birth through death, with the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. The three main requirements are that animals have a pasture or range, the farm must be independently owned, and the death of the animal must be humane. Andrew Gunther explains the reasoning behind these three requirements and describes his own acceptance of these farming strategies.
Q: What does the term Animal Welfare Approved mean?
Animal Welfare Approved is a program that identifies and certifies family farmers who are farming on pasture or range The Animal Welfare Approved program is based on measurable outcomes that impact the animals’ welfare in terms of its well-being, food, water, environment and its day-to-day care.
Q: Can you describe specific elements of your program that would distinguish an AWA farm from a non-AWA farm?
We have three key tenants. The first is pasture and range. We’re the only certification in the US that requires pasture or range and includes organic. There are two key benefits here. First, is the physiological behaviors of an animal. Cattle inherently live in these environments and become less sick and need fewer mutilations if they are kept on pasture. We know that species like hogs and chickens naturally live at the edge of jungles. They root and forage for food. That’s where they’re best suited in terms of their physiological and physical well-being. We also know that pasture and range has a massive impact on carbon sequestration. FAQ reports say that pasture and range is one of the few ways we can feed the world sustainably.
The second distinguishing element is that we require independent ownership. We will not accept a multi-level corporate ownership situation. We don’t allow people who don’t own and have control of the animals to be the people that are certified.
The third tenant is that we are one of the only two programs in the US that examine animals from birth to death. Even organic doesn’t look at the death of the animal. It just looks at the traceability of the slaughter plant. We follow it from the moment it’s born to the moment it dies.
Q: What made you want to focus on this issue during this time of your life?
My family started farming purely for profit, but quickly saw the benefits of alternative production. At that point, I became a convert. The moment of epiphany was when our farm stayed together even without herbicides and pesticides. Despite not feeding every animal everything the drug company was trying to sell us, we didn’t see significant decrease in production.
Then you look at the benefits: the bird song, the cleaner skin and water. It’s a no brainer. It was a very long journey, but I learned you can do this without everything the drug companies endorse or scientists study. I’m still staying in business.
Andrew Gunther joined Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) in April 2008 as Program Director. Previously, he was the Senior Global Animal Compassionate Product Procurement and Development Specialist for Whole Foods Market. Working with pasture-based farmers across the U.S. and Canada, AWA provides consumers reassurance that the milk, cheese, eggs and meat bearing the AWA seal come from family farmers using sustainable agriculture methods. He, along with his wife and children, also pioneered the world’s first organic poultry hatchery for chickens.
Raising pigs in the woods is not an entirely new practice, but what is new about these pigs is that their forest foraging area rotates, thanks to the help of electric fencing. Ted lets them hit the wild forage hard until it dwindles, then moves them to fresh ground. This mimics the pattern of wild animals who are always moving to a fresh food supply, allowing the forest food to regenerate. Ted also enhances the wild forage supply by using forestry practices of selective thinning and clearing of trees and shrubs. Ted’s pigs also get a grain based pig feed, but this is only a fraction of their diet.
These animals forage and harvest their own food in the same habitat they would prefer if they were wild. The forest also provides them with shelter from the summer sun and cold winter winds; deciduous trees are the perfect passive solar home for a pig.
What are these pigs foraging for? Tree bark, shrubbery, wild grapes, worms, mice, acorns, grass, persimmons, dewberries, elderberries, roots, grubs, lizards, clover, ants, honeysuckle, seeds, beetles, hollyberries, hickory nuts, weeds, and blackberries.
Animals have always played an important role in agriculture. Not only do they provide us with food and fiber, but they also help to recycle nutrients and add to soil fertility. Over recent decades, however, the farming of animals has become increasingly separated from its natural existence on the land. Today, most farm animals in the United States are raised in confinement on huge industrialized systems that are more like factories than farms.
But why should this worry us? Well, concentrating animal production into very intensive units has severe implications for animal welfare. Every year, millions of animals that are raised for food experience terrible living conditions on industrialized or “factory” farm.
In 2009, Marissa Guggiana, author of Primal Cuts, and Tia Harrison, co-owner of the butcher shop Avedano’s Holly Park Market and co-owner of Sociale restaurant in San Francisco, decided to create a community of meat rebels. They wanted to build an organization where butchers could share their craft and vision for a better meat system.
Now, there are over 200 men and women in The Butcher’s Guild. They are the cutters and slingers who buy whole animals straight from the farm. They insist that their meat is never doped with antibiotics nor hormones. And, in a defiant stance against industrial meatpacking plants that slice through as many as 34,000 pigs a day, these butchers offer customers a conscientious product prepared with skill.
“Butchers are the fulcrum point between farmers and consumers. When a butcher decides to buy from a farm, they can transform a farmer’s entire business and influence how that farmer raises his animals, because they’re in touch with consumer demand,” says founder Marissa Guggiana.
Chef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to empower schools to serve nutritious whole food to all students. F3 supports positive change through educational training programs, direct services, a web portal and collateral resources. Chef Cooper envisions a time soon when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food will no longer be considered “renegade.”
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