The food you eat is one of the most important decisions you make. When it comes to animal products, it is extremely important to consider quality as “you are what what you eat eats” (say that three times quickly!). Here’s why, and what you need to look for when grocery shopping.
1. Pasture raised: According to Humane Choice, pastured animals are raised in paddocks and have more than just freedom from confinement, they have the freedom to behave naturally. Pastured sows are free to build nests to give birth in just like they would in the wild. Animals that are free to roam spend much of their day rooting, scratching and grazing in the sun and fresh air. Importantly, animals grown on pasture do not suffer the disease burden of those grown under unnatural confined conditions and therefore do not need to be constantly fed antibiotics to keep them in good health. The use of antibiotics in production animals can have far-reaching human health effects. Pasture raised is also far more environmentally sustainable and beneficial to the local community and economy. Find out more here.
2. Free range: Similarly, free range provides a natural environment for the animals to thrive. They spend their entire lives, from birth to slaughter, with free access to the outdoors. This ensure a stress-free environment, healthy animals and good quality produce as a result. It is important to know however, the term “free range” can mean both 400 hens per hectare or 20,000, so please do your research if you are purchasing from a large farm.
3. Grass-fed: The quality of the food provided to the animals is essential as it directly effects the meat and egg quality you consume. Please avoid grain-fed as this promotes a high omega-6 and therefore inflammatory environment. It may be more expensive for both the farmers and you as the consumer, but cheap food is a false economy. We love this statement from Humane Choice: “The cost may not be immediately recognized but it is generally charged to your health, the environment and to the welfare of our animals. Cheap milk for example is not just pushing the farmer to the wall financially, he in turn tries to push the production levels of his cows to the very limits and they suffer as a result.”
4. Organic: By definition, certified organic produce comes from animals kept on farms which meet and exceed standards of the best free range facilities. The problem is however, that the word ‘organic’ may merely mean that animals in barns are fed organic grains. There can certainly be health benefits of consuming organic produce, but please know this: “organic” does not mean the welfare of the animals meets certified organic standards. Please only prioritize organic if it is also pasture raised, free range and grass-fed.
Now you understand what to look for, it’s time to learn how to prioritize quality without breaking the bank. Eating well doesn’t need to be expensive.
How to save money on quality produce
1. Shop at your local butcher. The prices are often cheaper and the bonus is that you support local and develop a relationship with someone you can trust is providing ethical and quality produce.
2. Larger Freezer: Investing in a larger freezer is a fantastic cost-effective strategy, as it al-lows you to purchase in bulk and significantly reduce your per kilogram price. Please consider a nose-to-tail approach wherever possible, as muscle meats such as fillet steak and chicken breasts are the least nutritious when compared to organ meats, marrow and thighs. The ethical argument applies here too – it is highly wasteful to only eat certain parts of an animal that is killed to provide human fuel.
3. Local Markets: If you don’t have the option to purchase in bulk yet, please visit your local market towards to end of trade to find the lowest available per kilogram price.
4. Free range eggs: from a farm, a friend with a pen or your own hens is a fantastic way to not only save money, but ensure the health of the animals, which you now know is highly linked to the ethics of the provider and has downstream affects to your health.