Friday, 20 September 2013

The Case for Higher Welfare Animal Products

Britain eats four times more ready meals than any country in Europe, and often considers buying the lowest quality food as a sign of thriftiness rather than a disregard for health. Many people would call it snobbish to buy free-range poultry and meat, rather than a genuine concern for animal welfare and their own health.

To keep up with an increasing demand for cheap food, companies have been using intensive farming methods to rear the most livestock with the least overheads. Everyone has seen the images and footage of the chickens crammed in cages with no room to move, their beaks cut off to prevent their cannibalising one another.

We should pay more attention to their treatment, because we should carefully consider everything that we put into our bodies.

James Barker -

Adopting a diet of higher welfare products means that we will be healthier. Free range, organic chicken has up to 50% less fat than its caged counterpart. Pasture-reared beef has 25-50% less fat than cows reared in confinement. All higher welfare meat and eggs contain significantly increased levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants.

Factory farms also use up huge amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, often with little regard to long-term adverse effects. Chemical fertilizers and other toxic substances are polluting the surrounding environment, killing off the eco-system.

Such farms also put many small and local producers out of business because they cannot compete with the higher yields and lower prices of more intensive farming methods. This means we rely increasingly on a small number of suppliers for our national food consumption, and an oligopoly is not good for the economy.

So you can see that there are many reasons to switch to higher welfare products, although at the moment they are more expensive than the alternative. However, with time, as the public demands better welfare for the nation’s livestock, this will become the norm and prices will come down.

Bake with Compassion, run by Compassion in World Farming, is a free-range fundraiser that tries to stimulate change, and persuade people to switch to higher welfare animal products. The organisation was set up by a British farmer who was horrified by the development of modern, intensive factory farming.

The idea behind the campaign is simple: bake with higher welfare produce such as free-range eggs and organic dairy, or even with vegan ingredients, and then hold your very own cake sale, dinner party or bake-off! You’ll have some delicious results to show for your charitable efforts.

So join in this October and put some compassion in the kitchen. Visit the Compassion in World Farming website for more information.
By Catherine Heath

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