My first steps into primal living came from a desire to know where the meat I was buying came from. I was worried about the animal welfare and wanted to make sure I was buying meats that had come from farms with well looked after animals. I then stumbled upon MarksDailyApple and from there went deeper into the topic. I learned that animal welfare was intrinsically linked to animal health which in turn linked to health benefits to the end consumer. Simply put healthy animal = healthy produce = healthier human. It’s a win win; look after the animal and the animal will look after us. So what makes an animal healthy? In my view the key markers are:

  • It is free of antibiotics, worming treatments and growth steroids
  • It is fed food that the animal has evolved to digest and thrive upon
  • The food (and water) is free of chemicals inc. fertilisers and pesticides
  • It is free to move and interact with its kin in its natural environment
  • Slaughtering is done as humanely as possible

(interestingly, none of these ‘qualities’ are required to be awarded a British Quality label in the UK scheme for lamb and beef…). Find out more about the limitations of labelling here.

A farmer abiding by these practices tends to have a primary purpose of caring for his animals rather than a primary focus on profits. He will also have land that is nourishing the local environment and biodiversity rather than depleting the soils and polluting the waterways.

When an animal is raised with optimisation of its health and well being, the animal produce is optimised to support our health and well being. Grass fed animals and wild caught salmon are rich in Omega 3 healthy fats but as soon as you change to an unnatural diet of chemical laden corn and soy  (they even feed them animal derivatives!) and keep them in an unnatural environment (cafo and fish farms) there is no healthy Omega 3. There is toxic antibiotics and growth hormones which have negative effects on the animal’s health and on ours when we eat it.

Milk from a mega dairy is NOT equal to milk from organic pasture raised cows (despite  what a recent BBC programme may have led you to believe!). The mega dairy milk contains no omega 3 fats but has plenty of growth hormones and antibiotics . It needs pasteurising to kill the bacteria that is in the milk so that it is safe for humans to consume.  Safe does not mean healthful and many studies are proving that pasteurisation and even more so homogenisation are causing many of the ill effects experienced by drinking milk.

So what happens when we buy produce from an unknown source?

If you buy veal the calves are likely kept in these boxes, standard chickens are kept indoors in cramps conditions, standard beef that is not free range pasture raised is likely from  cows in a CAFO (concentrated animal feed lot) fed chemical laden corn and soy and that slice of bacon is from pigs kept in metal crates that are so small they cannot move… And the milk/milk containing products from non-pasture raised cows is likely supporting the growth of the mega dairies

I use my buying power to support those farmers that do it the right way and shun those that do it wrong. In my view, if I choose to eat meat or animal produce then I have an ethical duty to ask where it came from and to care about the welfare of the animal. In doing so you will stop lining the pockets of the farmers with inhumane practices AND you will be improving your own health so it is a win-win!

There are farms all over the world that support the traditional way of farming and raising happy animals and produce that is organic, biodynamic and supports best practice animal welfare.

I have visited two such farms, one in Virginia USA (Polyface farm) and one in the UK (Gazegill Organics) and these are two of many that are paving the way back to better farming. I hope that other farmers start following their lead and that consumers start voting with their dollar/pound and supporting these farms.

Things to look out for when buying meat, dairy (milk, cream, cheese and any products containing these ingredients) and eggs (and any product that contains egg as an ingredient):

  • 100% organic grass fed (organic if possible to avoid chemical use in the grass)
  • 100% pasture raised (organic if possible to avoid chemical use in the grass)
  • go to the local farmers markets and ask the farmers directly about their welfare practices and ask to go visit the farm
  • buy your free range eggs from the small holder selling them from their home as you can ask if the hens are pasture raised and fed a varied diet
  • buy full fat organic milk from grass fed cows (ideally unhomogenised) such as Grahams, Duchys organic or buy it raw from farms like Emma’s Dairy and deliciouslyrawmilk
  • ASK! If in doubt, ask google, ask the shop keeper, ask the restaurant server, ask the cafe owner, ask ask ask! The more we ask the questions the more vendors will know we care and will in turn start asking their supply chain and it will make a difference!

These farms offer grass fed organic (some are biodynamic) produce and deliver!