3 Alternatives to Factory Farming

We’ve all heard and seen the reports of the harsh effects factory farming has on animals and the environment. The living conditions for animals are not only inhumane, but the chemicals used in these factories seep into the food they make, as well as the surrounding environment. To help offset these negative effects, there has been a rise in organic and natural farming practices. Check out these three alternatives.

1. Cage free or free-range: You usually see these phrases on egg cartons. Birds that are raised “cage free” have the freedom to roam inside barns or warehouses, while free-range hens imply that birds will have open access to the outdoors.  Sadly, the reality typically ends up being once a day, with no requirement that the bird actually makes it outside. Meanwhile, there is no federal regulation around cage free facilities. Conditions vary greatly “in terms of flooring, lighting, airflow, nesting facilities and stock density.”

2. Organically raised animals: Under organic regulations, the use of hormones or antibiotics is prohibited. Organically certified foods include: eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy products. The National Organic Program (NOP) set some standards, although vague, for the humane treatment of animals. In addition, the use of animal by-products in the feeds for organically raised animals has been prohibited. Certified organic products are stamped with the USDA’s organic seal.  And every year, a government-approved certification agency inspects the farm and where the food is raised.

3. Grass-fed animals: These animals – for example, cows – graze on a variety of different grasses growing in the fields where they roam. They are not fed hormones or antibiotics. Also, they aren’t forced to eat corn or other feeds that don’t sit well with them. Beef from grass-fed animals have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for good cardiovascular health, and lower levels of unhealthy fats.

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- Kori Williams is a NYC freelance writer, who loves music, food, and photography. Her favorite cause is Human Rights.

Sources: PETA, Humane Society, UPC, Mind Body Green, Georgia Organics