Lots of people don’t. That’s why the quality of the pork, chicken or beef you buy at the grocery store or wholesaler can vary so widely. And why the price of a pound of meat is so different from store to store. The reason is simple: it’s pretty easy to get meat to market cheaply if you don’t care how the animals were treated.
It costs a little more to raise animals humanely. Farmers and ranchers who care about animal welfare spend more on food, give animals more space in which to roam, and are careful when it comes to breeding, health care and a number of other quality of life issues.
Raising animals with care and concern is the right thing to do. Beyond that, animals that are fed properly and treated well produce meat that’s much higher quality than those raised on “factory farms.”
Although meat from factory farms is usually cheaper, price alone isn’t always a reliable indicator how animals were treated. Today, however, consumers like you and me can make informed choices about the meat we buy, thanks to the Global Animal Partnership (GAP). GAP is a nonprofit organization that was founded to promote continuous improvement in the welfare of animals raised for food.
The organization was started by Whole Foods Markets, the natural and organic food grocer, which wanted to let its customers know where their meat came from. Eventually Whole Foods recognized that an independent organization could have a greater impact than a single grocery chain, and GAP was born. The organization brought together farmers and ranchers, scientists and animal advocates who wanted to make a real difference in animals’ quality of life.
GAP has created a 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program that certifies meat that comes from farms and ranches that have a commitment to animals’ well-being. The ratings will make it much easier for us to know a meat’s quality before we buy it. Whole Foods Stores already offer chicken, pork, turkey, and beef products that display a GAP rating, and other North American retailers and restaurants will soon be adding the ratings. Look for the GAP 5-Step label the next time you buy meat.
TenderBelly is a proud supporter of the Global Animal Partnership. Please check our website often to learn more about the GAP Standards and how they can affect the food you serve your family or your customers.
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