If you’re a meat eating animal lover, then every Thanksgiving you should do your part to help turkeys by buying from a humane and ethically raised source. Every time you buy humane, you decrease the demand of factory farms and slowly encourage them to change their animal welfare practices.
This is what you could be supporting when you buy a Butterball turkey or any turkey from your local supermarket:
A turkey packaging label that reads “humane” or “humanely raised” is not enough. It means absolutely nothing. Find out why in this post: the real meaning behind humane meat labels.
You have to look for certain certifications on the packaging. The 3 certifications to look for are:
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Certified Humane
- Global Animal Partnership
These certificating bodies work only with family farms. The farms are audited annually by independent inspectors. This is life in a small family certified farm:
Humanely raised turkey certified by Animal Welfare Approved
AWA is the strictest of animal welfare certifications. They require pasture access for all animals, and address the animals entire life, from birth to slaughter.
Oz Family Farm / Healdsburg Farmers Market –In Healdsburg, CA.
Windy N Ranch – Order online. Onsite pickup in Ellensburg WA.
Patient Wait Farms – Call to order. Onsite pickup in Piedmont, SC.
You can also find some AWA certified products at Whole Foods.
Humanely raised turkey certified by Certified Humane
Like AWA, Certified Humane standards address the animals entire life cycle, from birth to slaughter. However, they do not require pasture access. If animals are indoors or in an enclosure, they must have sufficient space to do what comes natural to them.
Airshyre Farm / Gentle Harvest – Buy online.
Heritage Foods USA – Buy online.
North Fork Fields – Call for availability. In Purcellville, VA.
Global Animal Partnership
GAP is a 5-step program that allows family farms to gradually increase their animal welfare standards from step 1 to step 5. This is ideal for family farms that can’t make a robust change at once. See the main focus of each step here:
Step 1 mostly address space requirements. Step 5+ requires that animals live their entire life in the same farm. They are even slaughtered in the same farm. Notice that physical alterations are allowed up until step 5.
Diestel Turkey – Buy online. The Pasture Raised Turkey is the only one that meets step 5+. All others are lower in the scale.
Whole Foods – Go to your local Whole Foods and look for these:
- Fresh Brined Turkey
- Natures Rancher Fresh Whole Turkey
- Organic Fresh Whole Turkey
Look at the step number on the label and make sure that you are comfortable with it. Personally, if I ate meat I would buy only step 5 and 5+.
Last, we have White Oak Pastures which I separated from the list because they meet all 3 standards! They are in step 5+ of the GAP program. Make sure to select Holiday Pasture Raised Whole Turkey, small, medium, or large.
You can’t say that you’re an animal lover and ignore the suffering that animals endure in factory farms. If you’re eating turkey on Thanksgiving, I urge you to support these small family farms that work hard to give their animals a quality of life.
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