| January 30, 2013
As I join the 110 million or so Americans who will watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, we will collectively chomp our way through an incredible 1.23 billion chicken wings, plus millions of burgers, hot dogs and steaks. That’s a staggering amount of meat.
| January 10, 2013
We know that most of the world’s hungry live in the developing nations in the South. They are hungry because they cannot afford to buy food or grow it themselves, usually because of poverty, but also due to conflict, poor infrastructure, poor agricultural practices, and the over-exploitation of the environment, among other things. They are also hungry because much of their agricultural production is focused on generating food and livestock feed to supply Western markets. Recent price rises caused by harvest failures, commodity speculation, and the diversion of grain to produce biofuels over recent years have hardly helped matters (see for example Tom Philpott’s excellent blog on the horrendous impact U.S. biofuels policy is having on global food prices – and hunger).
Despite the recent recession, it’s great to see that demand for high-welfare, sustainable meats, dairy products, and eggs continues to grow. As the public wakes up to the negative impacts of intensive farming, they’re looking for food labels that provide real assurances that the food they buy is healthful, and produced with animal welfare and the environment in mind.
Many different businesses have now set up programs to offer consumers certain assurances about the food they buy. It goes without saying that the many different labels offered by food businesses vary enormously in terms of their scope and operation. However, most of the claims are centered on claims that farmers are using humane, sustainable farming practices, or that animals are fed a strictly controlled diet, or that medications or hormones are restricted or even prohibited. Since it’s impossible for each of us to go out and check the farms ourselves, we effectively take it on face value that the food label we choose to support really does deliver the benefits that it promises.
A recent report from the UK’s highly respected National Trust has confirmed what Animal Welfare Approved has been advocating for a long time: Feeding cattle on grass throughout their lifecycle is the most environmentally sustainable way to raise beef.
The new report – entitled What’s Your Beef – is an important contribution to the on-going debate about how to increase food security while reducing the environmental impacts of food production. Published by an organization responsible for the management of more than half a million acres of land across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on behalf of the nation, the messages in the report resonate with the arguments that AWA has presented for the wide-spread adoption of pasture-based livestock farming systems.
| February 2, 2012
No one takes health and fitness more seriously than today’s top football players. So isn’t it kind of absurd that as we watch Sunday’s game we will all be bombarded by advertisements for some of the unhealthiest junk food imaginable? And as we admire the speed, strength and agility of our gridiron heroes, chances are that most of the millions of chicken wings and burgers that will be consumed at Super Bowl parties across the U.S. will have come from industrialized livestock farming systems that are damaging to the environment, to animal welfare, and ultimately to our own health.
As two titans of the football world clash this Sunday, there is one Titan football player who is already leading by example. Will Witherspoon is linebacker for the Tennessee Titans – and a sustainable farmer. Will is passionate about producing healthy and nutritious food on his Animal Welfare Approved Shire Gate Farm near Owensville, Missouri. As a professional athlete involved in one of the world’s most physical sports, Will is particularly aware of the health benefits of grassfed, high-welfare farming.
“My cattle are raised as nature intended, on grass, and aren’t fed growth hormones, antibiotics or other unnatural additives,” says Will. “As a pro football player, I can’t take over-the-counter cold medicine without letting my trainer know about it. So why would I want my kids eating beef from cattle fed hormones or routine antibiotics?”
| December 28, 2011
As the year comes to an end, it’s a tradition of mine to write a note of gratitude to our friends, farmers and ranchers, consumers, advocates, donors, and everyone else who has helped give the future of sustainable farming room to grow and flourish.
And what a year it has been! Animal Welfare Approved has yet again experienced a fantastic year of growth and innovation, driven by the ever-increasing demand for healthy, environmentally friendly and high-welfare products. Here are some highlights of significant milestones we have achieved over the last year. None of this could have been achieved without your continued support.
| December 2, 2011
As public interest in ethically produced food continues to flourish even in such difficult economic times, it’s perhaps somewhat inevitable that food businesses jump on the “grassfed” bandwagon. We’ve seen it happen with organic, where some of the rules that farmers and food manufacturers must follow in order to use the coveted organic label have been watered down or manipulated. This has happened to such an extent that many well-meaning organic consumers would now struggle to differentiate between some larger ‘organic’ operations and their industrial cousins. The same thing is now happening with the term “grassfed.” While the range of products, labels and brands that make grassfed claims grows day by day, the sad reality is that some of the grassfed meat, milk and cheese you can buy probably shouldn’t be labeled grassfed at all.
Fortunately, Animal Welfare Approved has just published an 18-page booklet called The Grassfed Primer to cut through the confusion surrounding the term “grassfed” and to help the public to understand the wide benefits that real grassfed farming systems can have for the environment, for farm animal welfare, and for our health.
| November 30, 2011
We are pleased to announce that the in-depth guide to the benefits of grassfed beef is now available from Animal Welfare Approved. The Grassfed Primer: Your Guide to the Benefits of Grassfed Beef covers the history of U.S. beef production and the rise of modern intensive farming systems, and provides a detailed description of the wide-ranging benefits that grassfed cattle systems can have for human health, the environment and animal welfare.
As the range of products, labels, and brands making grassfed claims continues to expand, The Grassfed Primer is designed to cut through the confusion and provide an informative, easy-to-digest introduction to the benefits of real grassfed and pasture-raised beef.
The 20-page publication includes chapters titled “Grassfed, health, welfare and the environment,” “The problem with feedlots” and “How do I know it’s grassfed?” Written in an accessible and informal style, the booklet also contains full scientific references for further reading and research.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| September 14, 2011
George Washington University’s Urban Food Task Force, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) have joined forces by providing a platform for DC’s vibrant culinary community to focus on strengthening the supply chain for sustainably raised meat.
| August 13, 2011
Ever heard of the term “you are what you eat?” Well, no one takes this more seriously than today’s top athletes. They need to ensure that their bodies receive the correct balance of nutrients and energy and avoid potentially harmful additives. So it’s no surprise to find that top athletes are turning to sustainably produced foods to ensure their success.
I know this first-hand from conversations I have had with Will Witherspoon, linebacker for the Tennessee Titans – and sustainable farmer. Will is a unique human being; a gentle, humble and quiet spoken man whose day job is making the quarterback’s life as uncomfortable as possible. He’s also passionate about producing sustainable, healthy and nutritious food on his family farm, Shire Gate Farm, near Owensville, Missouri.
Through our farming connection, I have been very fortunate to have got to know Will and he’s become a family friend. On several occasions, he has given both my sons one of those talks that only a true sportsman can. As any dad knows, we can talk until we are blue in the face about the need to eat well and look after yourself, and to dedicate yourself to your sport. Yet after one minute chat with Will, my boys are immediately re-energized and focused.