Shop with Your Heart to Help Farm Animals

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**Note: This is a pro-bono post for the ASPCA. I was neither paid nor given any free products to publish it, though I was provided with content and resources. 

We all care about animals but sometimes we don’t always think about the animals that help produce our food – especially during the holiday season. So this season the ASPCA, Food Chain Workers Alliance, GRACE Communications Foundation, and the Natural Resource Defense Council are working hard to arm consumers with the information they need before they head to the grocery store for holiday shopping. And they are focusing on farm animal welfare by doing so.

A few years ago, the kids, my husband, and I visited a family dairy farm in Wisconsin. I was surprised to see that, though the farm was owned and operated by a family, the cows spent nearly their entire lives in a stall. What a miserable existence! I’ve since learned that there are farms that give their animals more freedom to roam, but you’ll have to do some research and pay a premium for your food if you want to support them.

Here are some tips for being a savvy consumer while supporting humane practices!

Don’t Be Duped

Marketing schemes strongly influence almost everybody’s food purchases. So often consumers want to buy humanely-raised food, but labels can be meaningless or downright misleading at times! What’s the difference between “all-natural” or “free-range” or “cage-free”? It’s super confusing, and some of these labels make no sense at all. For example, did you know that farmers can keep their chickens in enclosed, windowless sheds and still call them “cage-free”? I didn’t until about a minute ago!

That’s why the ASPCA has produced guides like this one to help consumers distinguish what matters.

Farmer with harvest
Female farmer standing in her garden with big basket full of vegetables

Don’t Waste the Food You Have

OK, I am definitely guilty of this. I buy something, forget I have it, and it rots in my fridge. Or I serve one of the kids too much food at dinner and they can’t eat it. I’m making a New Year’s Resolution to cut down on my family’s food waste by at least half.

Have you seen this John Oliver episode on food waste? It’s super-educational. (And hilarious. Don’t watch it in front of the kids, obvs.)

Your family can reduce your holiday grocery bill – and food waste – by serving the right portion sizes and storing leftovers properly. A Good Groceries Guide will help you understand how all these elements fit together to help people, animals, and ultimately the planet.

Buy Locally

Shopping locally, like from your local farmer’s market or CSA, can keep your shopping dollars in your local area and also decrease the need for factory-farmed foods. Also, farm-fresh food just taste better. I’m drooling a little thinking of farmers market tomatoes. Come back, summer!

Check out the ASPCA guide for shopping locally and how to begin conversations with local producers in your area.

Shop With Your Heart

At the ASPCA Shop With Your Heart website you’ll find a ton of options for healthy and humane food choices, along with tips on how to begin to implement them in your own family. http://www.aspca.org/ShopWithYourHeart

I’ll be honest. My family can’t afford to do all of these things. But we try to do what we can. My advice is to start small and choose one product that you can commit to purchasing from farmers with humane practices. Something easy and relatively inexpensive to start with is eggs. (And now I know to look for the “free-range” label instead of “cage-free!”)

As consumers we have all the power to shift the focus of major companies and corporations. And that begins with understanding how our shopping choices can directly affect the lives of the animals that help bring us the meals we serve our family.

To help get you started, ASPCA is hosting a giveaway. Enter below for your chance to win:

  • A handy back pocket label guide that decodes what different labels mean
  • A wallet-sized brand list of products that have higher welfare certifications
  • A “Good Groceries Guide” on how to help people, animals, and the planet
  • A Shop With Your Heart portable bamboo cutting board
  • A Shop With Your Heart smoothie blender bottle with a shaker ball

Enter Here!! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Holidays, and thank you for doing your part to help farm animals!

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