Green Choices: Meat & Poultry Buyer's Guide
When it comes to buying meat and poultry, the greener choices are not always obvious.
Certified Humane (beef, pork, lamb, poultry)
This label guarantees that animals have freedom to move and prohibits crates and tie-downs in stalls, as well as artificial means to induce growth, such as continuous barn lights for broiler chickens.
Eco-benefits: Certified Humane prohibits the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, two factors in groundwater pollution.
Is it regulated? Yes. Certified Humane standards are endorsed by several animal-rights organizations, including the ASPCA and the Humane Society. Producers are audited by third-party groups.
Keep in mind: This label does not mean animals are certified organic.
Natural (beef, pork, lamb, poultry)
No additives or preservatives were introduced after the meat or poultry was processed. (Certain sodium-based broths can be added to poultry and pork labeled "natural.") This term does not ensure organic feed. The term "natural" is often confused with "naturally raised," a term proposed by the USDA that would mean the animals were not given antibiotics and/or growth hormones.
Health benefits: Natural meats have no nitrites or nitrates, preservatives that have been linked in some children and women to various types of cancer.
Eco-benefits: "Natural" has no substantial environmental benefit.
Is it regulated? It is a term defined by the USDA but not regulated.
Keep in mind: "Natural" alone says nothing about how an animal was raised.