Grocery Stores

Raised Humanely (1280x995)

Here is a list of American food companies (both national and regional) that raise animals differently than standard factory farms do. They tend to use one of the following labels: grass-fed, pasture-raised, free range, organic, or humane certified.

(Here are short explanations of these must-know meat labels.)

Note: A brand’s presence on this page does not indicate endorsement by Humaneitarian, nor have I independently verified any company’s claims.

 

Beef

Applegate »

Applegate (store locator here) buys meat from nearly 1,000 farms and mainly sells deli meat, hot dogs, and frozen products. Their meat is either certified organic or natural — the animals are raised differently under these two categories, with certified organic requiring more for animal welfare. About 90% of all Applegate beef (both organic and natural) is 100% grass-fed. This grass-fed beef is sourced from either Australia or Uruguay because, as a senior employee at Applegate explained, the U.S. “does not have enough land to do pastured, grass-fed beef affordably at the volumes that Applegate uses.” Applegate beef products include organic hot dogs, sliced roast beef, and frozen organic beef burgers. Online ordering is available.

Niman Ranch »

Niman Ranch (no store locator; find their products at Whole Foods and small grocery stores) was a pioneer in sustainable and humane animal farming. Today, their beef cattle are pasture-raised until the last 3 to 5 months of their lives, when they’re “finished” on corn (so they’re not 100% grass-fed). Most of Niman’s cattle are finished on the land they were raised on; the rest are sent to small- or medium-sized feedlots. Niman follows its own humane handling standards; their beef sold at Whole Foods is third-party certified at GAP Level 4. Online ordering is available.

Organic Prairie »

The farms that sell to Organic Prairie are primarily located in the Midwest, but store availability is nationwide (store locater here). Animals are raised according to the federal organic standards, which means cattle are pastured during the grazing season, even when they’re being “finished” on grain. Organic Prairie finishes their cattle on corn and small grains during the last three months of their lives; this takes place on the same farm where they were grazed. The company sells ground beef, hot dogs, beef summer sausage, and various steaks and roasts. It is affiliated with Organic Valley, and online ordering is available.

Strauss Brands »

Strauss (store locator at bottom of this page) raises 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef. This is rare to find — a lot of the grass-fed beef sold by large companies is grain-finished, meaning the cattle were fed grain for the last third of their lives. Strauss “finishes” their cattle on grass, either on pasture or indoors with hay. They also have an organic line of 100% grass-fed beef. Strauss sells beef boxes online for delivery across the U.S.

Click here for regional brands »

Belcampo Meat Co. (California) raises animals near Mt. Shasta and operates restaurants and butcher shops in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Larkspur. The company raises 100% grass-fed, certified organic beef, as well as many other pastured and organic animals. Their farm and processing facility are humane certified by Animal Welfare Approved. You can shop online for delivery across the U.S. In addition to traditional meat cuts, Belcampo sells charcuterie, jerky, and bone broth. 

White Oak logoWith the celebrated farmer Will Harris at the helm, White Oak Pastures (Southeast) raises 100% grass-fed beef and other meats on their Georgia land. Their beef can be found at all Publix supermarkets and many Whole Foods in the East, Midwest, and Southeast. Here is a store locator; they also sell meat online, including their pork and lamb, which aren’t sold in stores. More on their animal welfare policies here.

 

Chicken & Turkey

Applegate »

Applegate (store locator here) buys meat from nearly 1,000 farms and mainly sells deli meat, hot dogs, and frozen products. Their meat is either organic or naturalthe animals are raised differently under these two categories. Organic chickens and turkeys are given access to the outdoors during the day, similar to the free-range model; natural turkeys and chickens remain indoors in spaces that allow them to forage and perch. Applegate chicken products include organic chicken hot dogs, deli turkey breast and chicken, organic and natural turkey bacon, organic turkey burgers, organic chicken & turkey sausages, and natural frozen chicken products. Online ordering is available.

Bell & Evans »

Bell & Evans (store locator here at top of page) sells both organic and conventional poultry. This write-up only refers to their organic line. The organic chickens and turkeys, all raised in Pennsylvania, are free-range, meaning the birds get access to grassy outdoor areas, weather permitting. Indoors, they’re kept in sunlit facilities on wood shavings, and given straw bales, balls, buckets, and other enrichments to interact with. All of Bell & Evans’ operations are humane certified at GAP Level 2. In addition, Bell & Evans processes its poultry using Slow Induction Anesthesia, meaning the birds are rendered unconscious with CO2 before being killed.

Coleman Organic »

Coleman OrganicColeman Organic (store availability here) is a division of Perdue and the largest certified organic chicken producer in the country. You might see Coleman Natural in stores, but this write-up only refers to the organic line, as the natural line follows more conventional methods of raising birds. Coleman Organic chickens are raised according to the federal organic standards, which means the birds are let outside for part of each day, weather permitting. Farms provide sun shades to ease the transition from inside to out, making it more likely the birds will choose to move to the outdoor areas, which are part dirt, part pasture. Inside the barns, space allotment is 1 square foot per bird, only slightly higher than the industry average. Perches are provided, as well as barrels and boxes in which the chickens can retreat.

Murray's »

Murray’s (store locater here) is based in the Hudson Valley of New York state and sells fresh chicken and turkey, plus an array of chicken products (including an intriguing “chicken bacon”). All of their products are Certified Humane and antibiotic-free. The company contracts with 72 farms in Pennsylvania that raise birds indoors. Birds are allowed to perch and take dust baths, and the facilities have large windows to let in fresh air. On its website, the company shares its belief that letting birds outside increases their risk of getting avian flu. But there are many farmers who raise birds outside and do not believe this is a threat. We’ll find out more about this debate and present it on Humaneitarian.

Organic Prairie »

The farms that sell to Organic Prairie are primarily located in the Midwest, with store availability nationwide (store locater here). Animals are raised according to the federal organic standards, which require that poultry get access to the outdoors, though the amount of time is not specified. Organic Prairie gives its chickens all-day access to areas that include both pasture and bare ground; indoors, they get 1 square foot of space (slightly more than what non-organic, industrial facilities provide), while turkeys get 2 square feet of space. Organic Prairie sells chicken hot dogs, chicken sausage, turkey bacon, whole turkeys, and many other poultry products. It is affiliated with Organic Valley, and online ordering is available.

Smart Organic Chicken »

Smart ChickenSmart Organic Chicken is from the Midwest and is sold in nearly every state (store locator here). It is Certified Humane, meaning the chickens are given more space than in factory farms and are provided with environmental enrichments, such as perches. Because this brand of chicken is also certified organic, birds have access to the outdoors (free-range); all of the outdoor areas are pasture, according to the company. The chickens are mostly Robb or Cross breeds, raised on 5 (presumably large) farms. Smart Chicken is owned by Nebraska-based Tecumseh Farms. Note that there is a line of Smart Chicken that is not organic/Certified Humane, so don’t get confused. Online ordering is available.

Click here for regional brands »

Belcampo Meat Co. (California) raises animals near Mt. Shasta and operates restaurants and butcher shops in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Larkspur. The company raises certified organic, pasture-raised chickens, as well as many other pastured and organic animals. Their farm and processing facility are humane certified by Animal Welfare Approved. You can shop online for delivery across the U.S. In addition to traditional meat cuts, Belcampo sells charcuterie, jerky, and bone broth. 

White Oak logoWith the celebrated farmer Will Harris at the helm, White Oak Pastures (Southeast) raises 100% pastured chickens and other meats on their Georgia land. The chickens can be found at many Whole Foods markets in the East, Midwest, and Southeast. The birds earn the highest animal welfare rating in the Whole Foods GAP system (5+). Here is a White Oak store locator; they also sell meat online, including their pork and lamb, which aren’t sold in stores. More on their animal welfare policies here.

 

Pork

Applegate »

Applegate (store locator here) buys meat from nearly 1,000 farms and mainly sells deli meat, hot dogs, and frozen products. Their meat is either organic or naturalthe animals are raised differently under these two categories. Their organically raised pigs are given access to the outdoors (either pasture or lot) where there is bedding for them to nest and root in. Natural pigs are raised indoors, also on bedding where they can nest and root. No Applegate pigs are raised in gestation crates, breeding crates, farrowing crates, or crates of any kind. Applegate pork products include natural pork & beef hot dogs, organic and natural Sunday bacon, natural Canadian bacon, organic salami, organic and natural deli ham, organic kielbasa, and natural frozen breakfast sausages. Online ordering is available.

Niman Ranch »

Niman Ranch (no store locator; find their products at Whole Foods and small grocery stores) was a pioneer in sustainable and humane animal farming. All of their pigs are raised either outdoors or on deeply bedded pack (hay) in open-sided barns, which allows them to root and nest. Pigs remain in the same group all their lives. Niman follows its own humane handling standards; its slaughtering process for pigs includes the use of CO2, which renders the animals sleepy and unaware as they’re moved into the slaughtering area. Niman pork sold at Whole Foods is certified at GAP Level 1, but a number of Niman farmers raise pork at a higher GAP level. The company offers a line of processed pork products such as bacon, ham and sausage. Online ordering is available.

Organic Prairie »

The farms that sell to Organic Prairie are primarily located in the Midwest, with store availability nationwide (store locater here). Animals are raised according to the federal organic standards, which require that pigs be given access to the outdoors, though the amount of time is not specified. Some Organic Valley pigs are pastured continuously, while others are raised indoors on deep bedded pack and allowed outdoors intermittently. Organic Prairie sells bacon, ham, breakfast sausage, ground pork, pork chops, and other cuts. It is affiliated with Organic Valley, and online ordering is available.

Click here for regional brands »

Belcampo Meat Co. (California) raises animals near Mt. Shasta and operates restaurants and butcher shops in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Larkspur. The company raises certified organic, pasture-raised pigs that are a cross between the Ossabaw, Duroc, and Berkshire breeds, as well as many other pastured and organic animals. Their farm and processing facility are humane certified by Animal Welfare Approved. You can shop online for delivery across the U.S. In addition to traditional meat cuts, Belcampo sells charcuterie, jerky, and bone broth. 

Vermont Smoke and Cure (New England/New York) has three product lines. Their “5 Knives” line of bacon, sausage, and ham is made from pastured pork raised on a small Vermont farm. Their Natural line uses pork from a Quebec farm that is Certified Humane, as well as pork from Coleman Natural Meats. Their conventional line uses conventionally raised pork, the kind that is not supported by Humaneitarian.


Lamb

Niman Ranch »

Niman Ranch (no store locator; find their products at Whole Foods and small grocery stores) was a pioneer in sustainable and humane animal farming. Niman’s lambs are raised on pasture in California, Idaho and Utah. They’re finished on grain and dried grasses during the last [checking on number] months of their lives (so they’re not 100% grass-fed). The handful of sheep ranchers that Niman works with practice rotational grazing. Niman lamb is not available in stores but can be found in some restaurants. Online ordering is available.

Click here for regional brands »

BelcampoBelcampo Meat Co. (California) raises animals near Mt. Shasta and operates restaurants and butcher shops in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Larkspur. The company raises 100% grass-fed, certified organic lamb, as well as many other pastured and organic animals. Their farm and processing facility are humane certified by Animal Welfare Approved. You can shop online for delivery across the U.S. (though lamb is not offered online). In addition to traditional meat cuts, Belcampo sells charcuterie, jerky, and bone broth.

 

Veal

Strauss Brands »

Strauss (store locator at bottom of this page) raises its “Free Raised” veal calves on pasture and allows them to nurse on their mothers and live within a herd. This is very different from the approach used by factory farms, where young calves are kept for their entire short lives in solitary crates where they can never turn around. Be sure to look for the “Free Raised” veal from Strauss if you want pastured veal (which is sometimes pink or red in color) because Strauss also sells “Group Raised” veal, which is not from pastured calves. However, this “Group Raised” veal is from indoor calves raised in groups, which is a major step up from factory farmed veal. Strauss veal is also sold under the labels Chiappetti, Musillami, and Dos Mamacitas. Check out Strauss’s very detailed and helpful Veal 101 page.

 


A note about supermarkets…

Grocery stores often sell their own brand of meat, with the store’s name and logo on it. They buy meat from another company and re-brand it as their own. As with any meat you buy, this meat with your store’s logo should feature one of the 5 labels that indicate the animals were raised in a different, more humane way.

Here are two popular supermarket chains that deserve a bit more explanation:

Trader Joe's »
Trader Joe'sTrader Joe’s (store locater here) sells meat under its own Trader Joe’s label, as well as meat from other companies. I’ve contacted Trader Joe’s to ask about their store-brand meats and am waiting to hear back from them regarding how much of what they sell under their private label is grass-fed, organic, free-range, etc. Even though Trader Joe’s is strong on organic and non-GMO products, you should treat TJ’s-brand meat like any other company’s meat: look for an alternative label that indicates how the animal was raised – otherwise it’s conventional meat. (Update: I am hearing from frequent TJ shoppers that the chain sells quite a bit of organic meat under the TJ’s label; here’s a blog post about organic meat.)
Whole Foods »
Whole Foods (store locator here) sells a lot of humanely raised meat (including brands listed on this page). None of the fresh meat sold at Whole Foods has antibiotics or hormones in it, no pigs were raised in gestation crates, no physical alterations were done to the poultry, the cattle and lambs spent at least 2/3 of their life on pasture, and veal calves were not raised in crates. Any company that sells meat at Whole Foods must at least meet those standards, but many brands go much farther. Whole Foods uses a 5-step meat labeling system that tells buyers how the animals were raised. It’s called GAP, short for Global Animal Partnership. Products are labeled on an animal welfare scale of 1 to 5. Get to know the 5 GAP “steps” on this page.
 

Co-op food stores and natural food stores are small enough to source meat from the kind of local, independent farms that tend to raise animals with the highest standards of care. Check out what your local co-op has to offer; find it with the help of the Co-op Directory Service.

 

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