With a rise in demand for transparency when it comes to our food, Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of unethical practices in many corporate farming operations across the country. While unaccountability is the norm for most meat farms, many consumers are looking to local producers for a more ethical, transparent farm-to-fork experience.
MeatMe is dedicated to ensuring that the local farmers we work with don’t treat their animals like commodities and the bare legal requirements as the highest standard.
Every farm in the MeatMe network goes above and beyond to guarantee that the way they raise their animals is natural and humane. However, most (if not all) of the farms that supply the meat at our grocery stores don’t treat their animals nearly as well. But just how do corporate farms hide their unsavory practices?
There are two major ways that large-scale farms avoid transparency:
- In a nutshell, Canada’s laws regulating how farmers are required to treat their livestock are lax. Agricultural laws have seen little progress over the past 3 years, with legislation getting passed such as Bill 27 in Alberta and Bill 156 in Ontario. These laws, referred to by critics as “Ag Gag laws,” make it illegal and punishable for journalists and whistleblowers to release findings on inhumane practices they find in farms without the express permission of the farmer.
- Many corporate farms attempt to hide unethical practices by using humane-sounding buzzwords like “free range” and “free run” — terms that are unfortunately loose in their application. All that’s required from the farmer in order to market their meat with these labels is that the animals have access to a door to the outside, but there’s no current regulation on how large this outdoor space is, or if the animals are encouraged to spend time outdoors. In some cases, the facility is so overcrowded that many animals won’t even come across this exit.
Examples like these show a serious lack of accountability that exemplifies the importance of consumers conducting their own research into which farms they choose to support for their meat.
MeatMe makes this easy by only working with farmers that not only run their farms and raise their animals in ethical and sustainable ways, but also are open and honest about what that looks like.
For instance, MeatMe works directly with Empire Valley Ranch, on which the Holmes family have been raising cows since 1998. Their cows have full range to graze where and how they please on 30,000 magnificent acres of grassland nestled between the Fraser River and a coastal mountain range.
And since their diet consists only of natural grass, no antibiotics, hormones, or GMO feed ever enters the cows’ systems. The Holmes family even makes sure to only handle their livestock from horseback, since mechanized vehicles can cause undue stress to the animals.
Stories like the Holmes’ show that the benefits of supporting farmers with nothing to hide goes beyond eating a product you can feel good about — it also means you know exactly what it is you’re eating. Many large-scale farms use antibiotics, hormones and chemicals which unnaturally fatten up the animal, reduce its lifespan, and potentially take a considerable toll on its health. All of the farms that MeatMe partners with raise their animals on natural diets, with plenty of room to grow up and live on a pasture rather than stuck in a feedlot.
Taking a little extra time to evaluate where you choose to buy your meat can go a long way towards supporting local farmers that work hard to ensure that their animals are treated in transparent and ethical ways.