Thursday, December 27, 2012

Animal Welfare Approved

Animal Welfare Approved:
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a certifying organization which screens family farms regarding the treatment and welfare of their animals. If they pass muster, they can display the label above and are listed on the organization’s website.
I’ve not heard about this organization until very recently, so I thought I’d share the knowledge. On their website you can read their strict approval standards by species, as well as search for farms that have received certification, or find products by location. My favorite part, though, was their Flickr Feed.
This seems a good project. Lord knows that animal product labeling in the US is confusing at best and deliberately misleading at worst and any independent guide is a great help.
The downside is that after you go to the site, you may find there are few certified producers in your area–depending on where you live. For example, it looks like there are 474 farms/ranches total in the listings. Then, a quick search for eggs reveals that AWA approved eggs are available nationwide at 111 farmers markets, 50 stores and 40 restaurants. That’s not bad, but this is also a very big country. And yes, I should add, it looks like the AWA only covers the US. I hope these numbers will be going up as consumer awareness grows and markets appear to support ethical farmers. AWA only began in 2006.
As I said, I don’t know much about the AWA, but I like the idea. As always, we’re crowd-sourced here at Root Simple, so if any of you have any thoughts about them that you’d like to share, please do!
As a side note, we learned about the AWA from Kathy and Ken Lindner, bison farmers who are AWA certified. Erik and I were at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market just before Christmas and we stopped by Kathy and Ken’s booth. The Lindners were very kind to us, and are the sort of people who just radiate calm sincerity. They raise bison way, way up in northeastern California and seem very dedicated to doing it with loving respect for the animals.
Despite the fact that Erik and I rarely eat meat, and never cook it, we ended up buying some stew meat from them. Meat is not a standard part of our diet because we object to the meat industry and won’t support that system. Therefore, it’s only logical that when opportunity arises we should support farmers who are bucking that system. So we did.
Now I just have to figure out how to cook the stuff! Believe it or not, I’ve never cooked red meat. Much less grass-fed meat. Low and slow, Ken said, so that’s what I’m going to do.