By Lisa Radov
Chairman, Maryland Votes For Animals
I am chairman of Maryland Votes for Animals. We are a proud Fair Farms partner whose mission is to champion humane legislation for animals in our state. We focus on companion animals, wildlife, and farm animals. After all, the animal from which our meat comes had a life before it became food for consumption.
Unfortunately, farm animals are too often only viewed as food. People seem to forget they are animals—not unlike the dog you walk every day or the cat that sleeps on your bed. Farm animals are sentient beings with feelings and inner lives of their own. When they are treated solely like commodities, however, their lives may end up being miserable.
I don’t think everyone needs to be a vegan or a vegetarian. But if you’re going to choose to eat animals, you have the right to know that the animal you are eating had a decent life before it became food on your plate. When most of us see the word organic, we just assume that the animals raised this way were treated better. We imagine sunshine, with ample room to move around, and opportunities to engage in natural behaviors. Most of us do our best to ethically source our foods for exactly these reasons. Unfortunately, these expectations aren’t guaranteed when it comes to animal welfare under the organic label.
Right now, the USDA is accepting comments regarding new, proposed organic animal welfare standards. Please join me in signing on to Fair Farms comments in support of these improved standards.
A few decades ago, the family pig outside grazing might get scraps. The cow was milked and it went out to pasture. Farm animals had a lovely life in addition to being a food source. If we can provide animals with the ability to engage in these natural behaviors—exposing them to sunlight and fresh air—and prevent the unsanitary conditions requiring routine, sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, it will not only be good for the animals, it will probably be healthier for the meat people put in their bodies. Of course we can’t change the status quo overnight. But there is one thing we can do: Hold the USDA’s own organic label to a higher standard. Join me in telling the USDA that it’s time to do right by animals.
After all, consumers deserve to know that organic really means something.