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When lighting your grill this summer, you should spend a little time thinking about what to put on it. Unfortunately, buying appropriate meat is not as easy as buying from organic or natural supermarkets. Whether you’re grilling chicken, fish, pork, or beef, here are some guidelines to make sure you choose only the best humane meats to feed yourself, your friends, and family this summer.
1. Familiarize yourself with humane meat labels
It seems like every package you buy at the grocery store has a catchphrase, but it doesn’t always mean the same thing.
Animal Welfare Approved is one of our top human meat options. Rigorous standards have been developed in collaboration with a variety of professionals who deal with all aspects of the species’ life cycle needs. The ASPCA rates this certification as high and states that it represents “a very significant improvement over conventional standards”.
Other highly rated labels are Certified Humane, which is organized by the non-profit HFAC organization. In particular, this certification introduced the “Pasture Raised” and “Free Range” labels for poultry to replace the unregulated use of these terms. If HFAC has not certified these claims, they may mean very little.
Animal Welfare Certified’s six-tier certification not only prohibits sub-therapeutic antibiotics and hormones at all levels. It also prohibits cages and boxes, and outdoor access is required from step 3. From step 4, access to the pasture is required.
For more information on these and other human meat labels, this handy guide from the ASPCA is a phenomenal resource. Specifically, it lists references to packaging that means less than you think, including natural, human-raised, and vegetarian-fed products.
2. Select Unique Sections
Most grilled meat recipes opt for muscle cuts: beef tenderloin, chicken thighs, and lamb chops often feature in our favorite recipes and menus. But the choice of ordinary muscle cuts increases the demand for industrial production, while the choice of more obscure cuts such as liver, kidney, or even tripe makes a living for smaller producers and butchers who specialize in whole animal slaughter.
Offal or even whole poultry can also be easily cooked on the grill. Try our full recipe for grilled chipotle chicken or grill a delicious beef heart to step away from flank steak and chicken breast and explore another side of grilling meat.
3. Pay the price for human meat
If meat is on the lower end of the price spectrum, it’s likely not overly human.
Low prices are often an indication of poor quality feed and animal exploitation. The higher prices for free-range chickens or organic pasture-raised beef are not only due to the increased demand, but also to the increased costs for animal welfare. In other words, if you think you’ve found a deal that seems too good to be true, the odds are good.
The only exception would be buying bulk meat from an entire animal butcher’s shop. You can often find great deals in bulk through CSAs or programs like Crowd Cow or Grassland Beef (which sell US Wellness Meats).
4. Vary your menu
Just because you’re grilling meat doesn’t mean it has to be the only option. Choosing to serve just a bit of high quality meat alongside delicious grilled vegetables is a great way to cut down on meat consumption (and afford the more expensive, better quality cuts).
We have a few tips for you to help you grill vegetables perfectly. Read our guide to grilling vegetables.
5. Choose Local
If you want to make sure that the meat you buy is truly human-raised, the producer is your best resource. Choosing local meat not only reduces the carbon footprint of your purchase, it also allows you to speak directly to the producer and ensure that the humane standards he or she works with are what you want.
Based on bio-authority
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