The word sustainable is widely used in natural food circles. Unlike organic certifications, it isn’t government defined or third party certified. It signifies a lot: healthy farming practices that don’t harm the environment, humane animal treatment, support of farming communities, fair wages and treatment for laborers. But in order to know what is truly meant by sustainable, and if you can trust it, you need to know your producers. Since sustainable meat is local meat, it’s pretty easy to ask questions of your farmer. Good subjects to raise include farming practices (i.e. if they’re using pesticides and fertilizers for the animal’s feed), drug use (i.e. are they administering hormones and non-therapeutic antibiotics to their animals), and general questions about how the animals spend their days. Just because something is local doesn’t mean it is automatically sustainable.
There are many benefits to meat from sustainably raised local animals: it’s usually safer and better for you and the environment, and its transportation footprint can be considerably less than its factory-farmed and mass distributed counterparts.
The biggest challenge related to buying sustainably raised meat is finding the good stuff. The process of figuring out what is truly sustainable and where you can buy it can take some time. But it’s very worthwhile. And well-raised meat is becoming increasingly available as consumer demand grows—in butcher shops, farmers’ markets, CSA-style meat shares directly from farms, natural food stores, and even in some supermarkets.
Browse the recommended links to locate farms near you that are producing sustainably raised meat.
Applegate is a champion for sustainable agriculture offering a range of organic and natural meats that they say have never been administered hormones or antibiotics and are raised using sustainable farming methods. Sample their hot dogs, sausages, burgers, bacons, and deli meats and you won't be disappointed. Follow Applegate on Facebook and Twitter. Locate a Store where you can buy Applegate products. Real Food has a story.