Your meat and what to look for

More resources are available on the Products & Places page, but here’s a summary of what to look for (and where) when buying your humanely raised meats.

There may be others, but here’s a short list of local grocers that carry humanely raised products.

When shopping, look for these key words on your meats:

  • Beef: Look for “pastured”, “pastured-raised”, “non-confined”, “no added hormones” and “no antibiotics” labels.
  • Pork: Look for “pastured”, “pasture-raised”, “free-range”, “non-confined” or “raised in deep-bedded housing” labels.Under federal regulations hormones are not allowed in raising pigs.
  • Chicken: Look for “pastured”, “pastured-raised”, “non-confined” and “no hormones” labels. Beware of the “cage-free” and “range-free” labels because they don’t tell the whole story about whether chickens were treated humanely. Under federal regulations hormones are not allowed in raising chickens.
  • Eggs: Look for “pastured” or “pasture-raised” labels. Beware of the “cage-free” and “range-free” labels because they don’t tell the whole story about whether chickens were treated humanely.
  • Dairy: Look for “pastured”, “pasture-raised”, “no hormones” and “no antibiotics” labels.

‘If you cook it, they will come’ or how to convince people to eat (and enjoy) vegetarian

How do you convince habitual meat eaters to choose, eat and enjoy a vegetarian dish when yummy meat dishes are fighting for their attention?

The answer is pretty simple and it’s this: cook a delicious vegetarian dish as part of the line up.  And I’m not just talking about putting out more veggie side dishes and salads (although those don’t hurt either), but providing a true vegetarian meal that can hold its own against its protein partner.

Unconvinced? I have two recent cases in point.


A day in a life – how do you eat kind?

My switch to eating only humanely-raised products has been relatively easy as many restaurants and grocers in the Bay Area offer options for free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and pastured pork. In addition, my timing aligned nicely with two of my main grocers’decision decision to start carrying humanely-raised brands which made my switch even easier (Safeway and Nob Hill).

Part of the change included incorporating ‘Meatless Mondays’ into our routine, which for my husband and I means one to two ‘no meat’ days and two to three ‘seafood’ days each week. While overall there are plenty of dishes to choose from, there are grocery trips when I’m feeling lost as to what to buy for a ‘meat-reduced’ dinner menu for the week.

I would love to hear about the successes and struggles you’ve had with buying and eating humanely-raised meats. Have favorite tips or recipes? Share those too. Comment away!

Compassion begets compassion

When it comes to the spectrum of treating animals like animals and treating them like people, I know both types, those who keep their dogs outside year round, treating them as a security system and those who cook daily meals for their furry kids using only organic meats and vegetables. I fall somewhere in the middle. While I believe that animals are sentient beings who feel pain and emotion, I don’t equate a human life with that of an animal, I still eat meat (even if only the humanely-raised kind) and I don’t let my dogs sleep in my bed (although I have lost the couch battle).

No matter where on the spectrum you fall on, I strongly believe that we all must raise our standards of how we treat our farm animals. While none of us are directly abusing the cows, the chickens or the pigs, when we eat meat from animals mistreated by the commercial farms we indirectly contribute to their suffering.

Raising our animal welfare standards becomes even more important if you agree with Dr. Marc Bekoff who says that “how we treat other animals has direct effects on how we feel about ourselves“.


What makes us human

Reading about the recent findings at a Tyson Foods pig breeding facility made me sick to my stomach. Which is the reason why I usually stay away from graphic, visual descriptions such as “workers kicking piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles, and ruthlessly beating mother pigs.”  I don’t mean to be ignorant but it breaks my heart and so I try to focus on the positive.

In this case, I got far enough to read those details and as I was having a small angry crying episode, I kept asking the question “why“. I understand people taking the only available job at a slaughter house and having to deal with the standard abuses at commercial farms (minuscule cages, gestation crates, etc). I don’t agree with it, I think there are alternatives, but I get it. But why add to the cruelty? Even if you’re not an animal activist and don’t believe that pigs and chickens and cows have feelings and think of them as purely food, why proactively add to their pain?


Meatless or veggiefull: you decide

My husband and I have been doing Meatless Mondays for over a year.  It’s been easy to incorporate into our weekly dinner menus, fun to try new recipes and many times ends up being a more frequent occasion than once a week.

When friends first learn about our Meatless Mondays, their initial reaction tends to be one of disbelief, followed immediately by worry that we’ll try to convince them to try it too.  Or even worse invite them over for a Monday night dinner!  In fact, when I first suggested Meatless Monday, Nathan’s reaction was pretty similar: worry that once a week he’ll have to miss out on a yummy dinner and instead settle for meatless mediocracy.