2016 -tried to cut my diet to FOUR F’s; fish, fats (nuts and butter), fruits, and fowl.
2017 – I will be trying to eat humanely
TL;DR – What I’ve found to be humane
1. Pasture raised eggs and dairy (Whole Foods).
2. Level 5+ red meat (Belcampo) and chicken (Whole Foods).
3. Recirculated aquaculture-raised fish denoted green by the Monterey Bay Aquarium system (Santa Monica Seafood)
A longer more flexible definition of humane For land animals we have been shooting for level 5+² foods only as defined by the Global Animal Partnership standards (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Animal_Partnership — these are the “steps” at Whole Foods by the way.) For seafood we follow the Marine Stewardship Council (https://www.msc.org/about-us/standards).
Beef cattle (too much CO2 impact, don’t eat)
•Step 1: There is at least 50% vegetative cover on pasture/range, and dehorning is prohibited.
•Step 2: Objects for grooming and scratching, as well as shade for all animals to rest together at the same time are provided.
•Step 3: There is no Step 3 for cattle.
•Step 4: Cattle are removed from pasture/range only when weather conditions put them at risk.
•Step 5: There is at least 75% vegetative cover on pasture/range. All physical alterations, including castration, is prohibited.
•Step 5+: Calves are weaned naturally, and transportation is prohibited.
Broiler chickens (OK, try to eat eggs instead)
•Step 1: Cages are prohibited and all physical alterations, including beak trimming, are prohibited.
•Step 2: Habitats are enriched to encourage foraging behavior, and cover or blinds are provided.
•Step 3: Chickens have continuous outdoor access during daylight hours.
•Step 4: Chickens have continuous access to foraging areas or pasture, including indoor foraging areas during inclement weather.
•Step 5: Season housing is prohibited. Perches for all birds to perch at the same time are provided.
•Step 5+: Chickens are killed on-farm or locally.
I have done some research and ultimately decided that fish is a tricky option. The ocean is so large that it is hard to be confident that the fish stocks are healthy – said another way the system is too complex and the uncertainty outweighs the certainty.
I have grown skeptical of the MSC cert…
How? Getting all animal product and meat from Whole Foods with the exception of red meats which come from Belcampo Meat Co (http://www.belcampo.com/). For seafood I purchase from Santa Monica Seafood.
A quick note about pasteur raised vs cage free/ree range. They are surprisingly different in their definition (below).³
HFAC’s Certified Humane® “Free Range” requirement is 2 sq. ft. per bird. The hens must be outdoors, weather permitting (in some areas of the country, seasonal), and when they are outdoors they must be outdoors for at least 6 hours per day. All other standards must be met. HFAC’s Certified Humane® “Pasture Raised” requirement is 1000 birds per 2.5 acres (108 sq. ft. per bird) and the fields must be rotated. The hens must be outdoors year-round, with mobile or fixed housing where the hens can go inside at night to protect themselves from predators, or for up to two weeks out of the year, due only to very inclement weather. All additional standards must be met.
How much? Our meat is something like $8 or $9/lb which isn’t too bad. Chicken is much more expensive. Cheese, milk, and eggs are easily twice as expensive around $5-$7. The time cost hasn’t been too burdensome, I am using Amazon Pantry to help get back some time on the dried goods shopping which has become a bigger part of our diet (beans, lentils, and why/soy protein have become important). Eating out has been a challenge (and we live in Los Angeles). Overall we eat less meat and animal product so I hope to save money net net.
Why? Doing it mostly for humane issues (i.e. it feels like the right thing to do) rather than health reasons. The following article and the works it mentions were deeply influential http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/11/political-animals/302614/ as was the HBO show Westworld. It certainly takes more effort to source this way, but that’s also kind of the point as I hope to financially support vendors who match my values.
¹After struggling with the possibility that I might be supporting the treatment of animals more so than needy people we’ve tried to match what our extra food expense is from eating humanely donations to a local center that provides “back to work” focused programs. Not to suggest the two are equal, but anyway.
²As an aside, I don’t actually think some of the things in level 5 are so great. Would rather have the animals be able to come in during bad weather events if they so desired (level 5 only lets them be housed in extreme weather events). But again, I don’t know much about this and my interpretation is fairly naive and uninformed.
³I don’t think birds actually need 108 sq. ft per, but I do think 2 sq ft per is on the low side and there are no better fitting standards… so it goes. And to be honest I don’t really know what they’d need anyhow. Open to suggestion on this…
Further notes I’ve come across
- Best option for fish: Closed recirculation aquaculture
- Ethical eating depends not on just you, but on your circumstances and on others
- A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise
- Fish are alive, but not the way we are. They are different from other animals, but not so different. They solve problems with our food system and create others.
- Can one suffer unconsciously? IDK. Can you impose suffering on an unconscious being? Yes
- Fish pain is different from pain that mammals experience … what about other genus?
- Superconcussing fish is hard. Humane fish slaughter is surprisingly hard
- Fish appear to remember signals that forewarn pain in experiements
- Fish rub their lips on tank when injected with bee venom (not when injected with saline)
- Fish have endorphines
- Hard to believe that fish don’t feel pain
- Uncertainty and overconfidence seem to be the dominant factors in “sustainable seafood “
- MSC system has succumed to pressures because of poorly defined principles, complex system management, and economic dependency
- MSC likely compromised by break-neck demand