Boston Sustainable Agriculture Examiner

June 29, 2011

Rachel Greenberger
Boston Sustainable Agriculture Examiner

Summer grilling seems to peak over Fourth of July Weekend. The New York Times is already at it with their cooking-over-fire suggestions, including Mark Bittman’s colorful The Minimalist Grills.

As you prep for your outdoor eating with family and friends, take a moment to think about the Where and How of your beef, pork, and poultry.

Adele Douglass, Director of Humane Farm Animal Care (parent of the label Certified Humane Raised and Handled®), commented for a recent article on vegetarians returning to meat:

“We all have our ideas of what ‘free-range’ should be… but that is rarely the case. I never buy ‘natural’ or ‘free-range’ or ‘on pasture’ because anyone can say those things and they can mean nothing.”

With animal husbandry, the devil really is in the details. “Happy Cow” variety marketing abounds, and most consumers don’t know the half of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics, cost-saving measures taken on factory farms, and other heavily shrouded tricks of the trade.

As you craft your weekend shopping list, check out the stores in your neighborhood that carry Certified Humane® meat and dairy. Or, visit one of the small meat producers that service local farmers markets in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Bottom-line: a complicated chain of events (some of them very painful) manifested in your Independence Day burger. As you think about your grill, remember that price is not the only measure of value.

(Burger pairing: why not wash down your local meal with a Massachusetts microbrew? Cape Ann Brewing Co., Cambridge Brewing Company, and Berkshire Brewing Company make some of my favorites.)