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What Does "Cage Free," "Free- Range" + "Organic" Even Mean?

The "cage free" bull-crap

Rather than tell consumers their meat and eggs came from concentrated feeding operations where thousands of animals were housed in cramped, unsanitary conditions – marketers capitalize on the “positive” and label these product as being fed and “all vegetarian diet.” This creates the illusion that animal welfare was actually given ample thought and consideration … making the consumer feel like they’re making an informed choice and picking a high-quality product. The same often occurs in the case of the “cage-free” and “free-range” label for chickens and eggs. Sadly, the difference between what this label implies and what it actually means, seems to have consumers incredibly confused.

In recent years, the campaign to replace the usual battery-farmed eggs with a ‘guilt-free’ version has gained extreme popularity.

But unfortunately, just when we thought the dairy industry couldn't get any worse, they created a label so convincing, that we the consumer felt comfortable continuing to buy these tortured animal products. Turns out their animal friendly label aren't actually "friendly" at all. This industry began promoting supposedly ‘humane’ meat/dairy products to deceive many people into believing that these labels indicated improved conditions for the animals. However, it has become increasingly obvious that these labels are part of a carefully-planned public rep and advertising strategy - Which has completely whitewashed the animal cruelty that is continuing to be carried out each day. We must educate ourselves so that we are not influenced or swayed by the corrupt ideals of these big business corporations.

In hundreds of investigations, labels that declare animal products to be "animal-friendly" have been shown to be nothing but a farce. The lives these animals are living is far from humane.  I have taken this excerpt from PETA.comand attached it below.

"The reality? Millions of young hens standing shoulder to shoulder in huge enclosed warehouses, forced to dwell day and night in their own waste, enduring air so foul that workers sometimes wear gas masks to prevent permanent damage to their lungs. Just like their battery-caged sisters, ‘cage-free’ hens are brutally debeaked, force molted (starved for [up to 14] days to restart an egg laying cycle), and, of course, slaughtered when they are no longer of use. Or, as one investigator discovered, if no buyer can be found for their ravaged bodies, they might just be packed into steel drums and gassed, the piles of their lifeless remains sent to a landfill or used as compost."

Not only are most of these hens killed at the same slaughterhouses as battery hens, but what many people are also not aware of is that ‘cage-free’ and ‘free-range’ hens are generally purchased from the same hatcheries. Half of the chicks born in these hatcheries, being male, and therefore useless to the industry, are considered a waste product of the layer-hen business. These male (and some female) chicks are killed in unimaginably cruel ways, including being ground up alive or suffocated.

In addition, debeaking (an extremely painful procedure routinely performed without anesthetic), is permitted under regulations that cover all of the following egg classifications:

American Humane Certified, Certified Humane Raised and Handled, USDA Certified Organic, United Egg Producers Certified, ‘Pasture Raised’, ‘Vegetarian-Fed’, ‘Cage-Free’, ‘Free-Range’, ‘Free-Roaming’, and ‘Naturally-Nested’.

As long as the increasing human population continues to demand animal products, eggs, just like dairy and meat, no matter how they are labeled, will be obtained from animals crowded together in intensive confinement and subjected to gross welfare and rights violations, including horrific mutilation and mass slaughter.

What about small-scale 'backyard' farming situations?

As explained by Christine Wells in the article "What's wrong with backyard eggs?"

“As we look more closely at the reality of the backyard chicken trend, it becomes increasingly clear that it is the same commodification of animals, packaged in niche marketing to appeal to the modern ‘conscious consumer’.”

Thankfully, there are now plenty of truly cruelty-free alternatives. Whether you use eggs for omelets or scrambles, pancakes or cakes and pastries, replacing eggs is easier than ever before. From fresh tofu omelets and eggless salad to the brand-new retail product called ‘The Vegg‘, there’s an egg-free version available."

What about USDA "organic" products + poultry

According to PETA, "Many organic and free-range farms cram thousands of animals together in sheds or mud-filled lots to increase profits, just as factory farms do, and the animals often suffer through the same mutilations—such as debeaking, dehorning, and castration without painkillers—that occur on factory farms.

Organically raised chickens on some farms suffer from higher mortality rates than drugged chickens because extremely crowded, filthy housing conditions, coupled with a lack of antibiotics, can lead to even more parasites than are already found in drugged chickens.

Many “organically raised” cows are sent to factory-farm feedlots to be fattened prior to slaughter, where they are caked with feces and mud. Cows who are fattened on feedlots can still be labeled organic as long as they’re given organic feed.

Cows on organic dairy farms may be kept in sheds or filthy enclosures, where they spend their lives mired in their own waste, enduring the strain of forced yearly pregnancies and having their calves taken away from them. If their udders become infected from frequent milkings, which often happens, many farmers deny them medicine, because if they medicate the animals, they won’t be able to sell the milk as organic.

Cattle have their horns cut off and their testicles cut out of their scrotums, and many are branded with sizzling-hot irons, resulting in third-degree burns. Pigs on organic farms often have their tails chopped off and their ears notched, and some have rings forced into their sensitive noses in order to permanently prevent them from rooting in the grass and dirt, which is one of a pig’s favorite pastimes. Chickens on organic egg farms usually have part of their sensitive beaks cut off, causing acute pain and often times even death. None of these animals are given any painkillers.

At the end of their sad lives, the animals who don’t die on the farm are shipped on trucks through all weather extremes, usually without food, water or rest, to the same slaughterhouses used by factory farms. There, they are hung upside-down and their throats are cut, often while they are still conscious and struggling to escape. Some are still conscious when they are forced into the scalding-hot water of the de-feathering tanks or when their bodies are hacked apart.

The only advantage that organic products have is that they do not contain antibiotics, hormones, or an arsenic-based additive (as many non-organic chicken products do). Although flesh from these animals might be somewhat safer than that from drugged animals, the healthiest choice is to avoid all meat, eggs, and dairy foods. Organic, “natural,” “humane” and free-range flesh, milk and eggs are still laden with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, just as all animal products are."

Please, take time to consider where your groceries are coming from and the energy behind these foods when they were killed, transported or captured to be cooked and served on your dinner plate.

Take a moment to read the labels, ask any questions you may have at your local grocery store/superstore or market and feel free to request more plant based/vegan-friendly options restaurants and cafes in your town. Your voice will be heard!

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