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BellaOnline's Animal Life Editor

Organic Produce and Humane Meats

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is an organization that provides consistent truth in food labeling for meat and dairy products. The program was the result of high consumer demand for truth in labeling, humanitarian farming, and environmentally responsible practices. There is no direct cost to farmers to receive an AWA label. This fee-free program provides family farmers with humanitarian guidelines, technical support, independent certification, and annual quality audits without the potential for any conflicts of interest. Considered the "gold standard" of labeling, this is a voluntary process to let consumers know that these family farms take their humanitarian measures and organic practices seriously.

AWA provides a no nonsense guide to decoding meat labels. However, within the United States, the AWA label has the limitation of only evaluating indigenous species. Therefore, organic farms that raise yak, water buffalo, ostrich, rhea, emu, llama, and alpaca are ineligible to receive certification, irrespective of the level of care provided for the animal. However, for most North American consumers this labeling system becomes irreplaceable to combat farm-factory, drug laden, and genetically modified franken-meats that mega agricultural conglomerations would otherwise attempt to convince consumers was healthy, such as beef, pork, lamb, duck, chicken, and turkey.

Equally important to quality meats are quality fruits and vegetables. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) provides consumers with a Smarter Living guide to labels. This is an excellent resource to explain most label values, how to interpret data correctly, and provides guidance beyond food labels. It helps people become more acclimated to responsible shopping, which carries the power of market change. When consumers more clearly understand how to interpret labeling practices, it encourages the government to pass truth in labeling acts, helps raise humanitarian expectations throughout the country, and becomes a force to shutting down toxic corporate propositions like Monsanto's drive to create genetically modified crops that are completely dependent on the use of the company's pesticides.

This is Deb Duxbury, for Animal Life, reminding you to please spay or neuter your pet.

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