Humane the Next Local?

September 10, 2010

Move over local, humane is stepping in.

Move over local, humane is stepping in. As consumers strive to limit their individual impact on the planet by carrying reusable totes, water bottles, shopping seasonally and more, the Lempert Report can’t help but notice another trend on the horizon: humane. In most of America’s reality, it just isn’t possible to source every item on the dinner plate locally or within 100 miles. Sure, the demand for local and the like will continue to grow as consumers continue to pay closer attention to where their foods are coming from, but when it comes to America’s favorite sources of protein, local most likely just isn’t an option.  
The term humane refers to animal welfare standards that generally allow animals’ ready access to fresh water and a diet that maintains health and vigor, an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area, prevention or rapid treatment of disease or injury and freedom to express normal behavior. The use of growth hormones, antibiotics and other artificial techniques used to increase production is prohibited under general humane guidelines. Humane certification does not distinguish between conventional and organic products as the organic program focuses primarily on environmental sustainability. Humane certifiers cover dairy to buffalo to chicken and farms are audited by independent third party certifiers.
According to a survey conducted by the Public Opinion Strategies in 2007 for American Humane Certified, 58 percent of consumers said they would spend an additional 10 percent or more for meat, poultry, eggs or dairy products labeled as humanely raised. The same group of consumers also ranked the humane label as more important than labels specifying “organic” or “natural.” The Lempert Report was not privy to the survey’s details but does believe that consumer awareness regarding everything food is definitely increasing, almost exponentially. 
The humane handling and treatment of farm animals is becoming even more relevant to our society, and thus the importance of allowing consumers access to these products is clear. Demonstrate to your customer that you recognize what’s important in food choices and respect their freedom to choose. Clearly were heading towards a more transparent food processing system, so before it’s too late, take a look at your stores shelves and be proud of the products you stock.
The two main human certification bodies in the United States are the Certified Humane program and American Humane Certified; both share similar principles and best practices.