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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 1 Day Left! (Why Free-Range is NOT the Answer)

Today I'd like to elaborate a bit on my earlier remarks about poultry (and other meats) bearing labels such as 'free-range,' 'organic,' and 'natural'. Once again, most of this info comes from the good folks at Farm Sanctuary.
  • Most people don't envision physical mutilations as part of their 'natural,' 'free-range,' or 'organic' turkey. But mutilations, from de-beaking to toe removal, are still performed at 'free-range' farms. These mutilations are a source of continual pain for the birds and can make eating and walking difficult.
  • As on factory farms, birds on 'free-range' and 'organic' turkey farms are genetically manipulated to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. The strain of growing so quickly causes many health problems for the turkeys, from crippling joint disorders to heart failure. Premature death on the 'free-range' farm is still common.
  • The USDA does not limit 'free-range' animal density or flock size and these turkeys are often packed crowded tightly together on 'free-range' farms.
  • Even though 'free-range' operations are supposed to grant turkeys outdoor access after about a month of life depending upon the weather, there are no specific requirements for this access. The provision for 'access', therefore, is practically meaningless.
  • In the winter, 'free-range' birds are not required by federal regulations to have access to the outdoors. Due to the fact that poultry is slaughtered at an extremely young age (about 14-16 weeks for turkeys) birds raised during the winter months do not have to go outside at all.
  • The size of the outdoor 'free-range' turkeys have access to is also unregulated by the USDA, so it can be surprisingly small and is often nothing more than a tiny, barren dirt lot.
  • Since the 'free-range' label has no clear definition it is nearly impossible to regulate the methods by which these animals are raised. In order to obtain approval for labels bearing the claim 'free-range,' poultry producers must only provide the USDA with a brief description of the birds' housing conditions. These claims are almost never verified by on-site inspections.
I know this is pretty depressing information, but I heard a quote today that really resonated - We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies.

I promise - tomorrow I'll focus on something more upbeat, and for today I do actually feel surprisingly grateful to possess this knowledge and to be able to share it in hopes that it might change someone else's perspective.


Vegan Girl (Roni Seabury) said...

That qoute at the end rocks! I'm going to steal it.

Canadian Rockies Art - Nathalie Girard said...

I am always grateful to learn something new, and tonight, I did. I had no idea about this. If you don't mind, with your permission, I would like to put up this information on my blog and help spread the word (with a link back to your own original post, of course).

I'd like to put this up on my blog, I hope you won't mind. Thank you for helping to educate people (including me) about all this.


Tamara said...

Of course Nat - spread the word far and wide. :-)

Canadian Rockies Art - Nathalie Girard said...

I have, you can read it on my blog and read my comments about all this:

Thank you again T...