Kristin Hanson, Atlanta, GA
Influencing Atlanta residents to eat more humanely
Eating humanely has become a huge part of my life. Several years ago I watched the documentary “Food, Inc.,” which shocked me to the core and opened my eyes to the horrors of factory farming and the reality of America’s food system. Not knowing exactly what to do, but knowing I had to do something, I became a vegetarian and continued researching and learning about our food system.
Slowly, I started realizing that I could eat meat as long as I did it humanely. Through my research, I learned the definitions (or the lack thereof) of the words “grass-fed” and “pasture raised” and how many companies use certain words to make consumers think they are buying a higher quality product when they really aren’t.
I started looking up local Georgia farms such as White Oak Pastures (whose beef is now sold at Publix), Riverview Farms, Sweet Grass Dairy, and many more. I reached out to these farms and learned how they treat their animals, what they feed them, how much time is spent on pasture, etc. Most of these farms were excited to tell me all about their animals and even invited me to come visit and see for myself. Those farms that weren’t thrilled about answering questions or didn’t allow farm visits, I knew to stay away from.
Knowing how much time and energy it takes to really do your research in order to eat humanely and that not everyone is willing to take that time, I knew I had to share my knowledge with others, so I started a blog called “Atlanta Ethical Eats.” My parents are among the readers. They are very supportive of me, but at first they were skeptical about paying more money for their meat. Through reading my blog and learning the truth of how eating humanely is better for your health, the environment, the welfare of animals and so much more, they became open to doing a blind taste test. I decided to give them one burger cooked with generic ground beef (corn-fed) and then one that was grass-fed from a local farm and cooked to the same temperature. Hands down they preferred the grass-fed burger and couldn’t believe the difference in taste. Now they almost exclusively buy humanely raised meat.
Many of my friends hear me asking waiters and waitresses at restaurants about where the meat and produce comes from, and they’re starting to do the same.
Earlier this year, I had a blast at the Southeastern Sustainable Livestock Conference, hearing from others who are passionate about the same humane choices. When farmers, distributors and consumers come together and are able to have an open, honest discussion about the future of meat in America, it’s a beautiful thing. This movement is gaining momentum every day and knowledge is key. Knowing and supporting local farmers is one of the best things we as Americans can do in order to cause a shift in our food system.