I’ve done a bunch of posts about socially conscious shopping. I boycott more companies than I can count, and conversely I try to support local businesses and those that support hiring people with disabilities. I also am very particular, and growing more so each day, about where my food comes from. I only buy local produce, dairy and meat. I often find that the information I was about food products can be hard to find and misleading when you can find it. So I was thrilled to learn about the ASPCA’s Shop with your Heart initiative.
A normal medium size family spends hundreds of dollars each month on things like chicken, beef, and sausage. As consumers, most of us do not realize just how powerful we are. As a group, we have the power to make something a success or even push to have something inhumane pulled from the shelves. But it takes us, as one collective, to get it done.
Over the last few years, American consumers have begun to demand and expect a great deal more from their food and the people who provide that food to them. As socially conscious shoppers, we are changing the concept of food as we know it. We are making strides – but this is an uphill battle to say the least.
By buying welfare-certified animal products, or more plant-based products, you send a strong message to food companies that you care about the treatment of farm animals. Most of the nearly 9 billion animals raised for meat, milk and eggs in the US are suffering in inhumane factory farms. I know – it is disgusting and sad to even think about it. But where DOES your meat come from? Where do your eggs and dairy come from? And if you think you already know – have you checked to be certain?
Some of the most commonly misunderstood food “labels”
- Natural: Does not impact animal welfare in any way.
- Free-Range: No legal definition for use on eggs, pork, beef or dairy.
- Humanely Raised/Humanely Handled: Undefined and subjective terms without codified standards.
- Hormone-Free/No Hormones Added: Hormones are not approved by law for use on pigs or poultry, so the term is meaningless on those products.
- Cage-Free: On eggs, this label indicates that hens were not raised in battery cages. However, it is an empty claim on poultry meat as meat birds are very rarely raised in cages, and are instead crowded into large, open sheds.
It’s important to understand the true meanings of food labels so you can make informed decisions and help animals by buying products that match your values. Learn more in this comprehensive guide from the ASPCA Meat, Eggs and Dairy Label Guide.
Here are more resources to help you get started:
- Shop with Your Heart Brand List – Plant-based and welfare-certified brands available at supermarkets across the country.
- Meat, Eggs and Dairy Label Guide – Download or print this handy guide to make the most informed decisions every time you shop.
- Certified Farms by State – Locate a nearby farm that’s certified by Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), Certified Humane (CH), or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Steps 2 and above.
- How to Shop at the Farmer’s Market – Check out this video and list of questions to ask farmers so you can make the most humane choices at your local farmers market.
- Welfare Conscious Dining – Learn about REAL Certified, which integrates comprehensive farm animal welfare standards into its restaurant and foodservice certification program.
- Good Grocery Resources – Farm animal cruelty, foodborne illness, worker abuse and pollution are interconnected problems, but you can help make our food supply healthier for people, animals and the planet.
WILL YOU TAKE THE PLEDGE?
Take the pledge to be a more welfare-conscious shopper at aspca.org/shopwithyourheart. Everyone who signs the pledge also gains access to an exclusive Shop With Your Heart Grocery List, including welfare-certified and widely available plant-based brands.
WILL YOU SHARE THE BUYING POWER?
Post a photo of yourself on your social media channels making the “heart hands” to show solidarity with the movement with sample language like: “Join the movement with me and pledge to #ShopWithYourHeart! aspca.org/ShopWithYourHeart @ASPCA.”
We are animal people. Every day, they make our lives better. Now we have the chance to make billions of farm animals’ lives better by making a few simple changes to how we shop.
And don’t forget to enter to win some fun items from the ASPCA to show off your dedication for humane and healthy food choices!