A brilliant guide to pork

Next to chicken and fish, pork is the one of our highest factory, intensively farmed meats. This means lots of unethical issues, human health, animal welfare, food poverty, environment. So choosing a higher welfare pork makes a huge difference.  Always buy pork with caution.

This great chart from http://farmsnotfactories.org will help 🙂

 

 

Organic

Free range

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RSPCA Assured

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Tractor

No welfare label

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Shared from http://farmsnotfactories.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pig-welfare-comparison-chart.pdf

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Children are our future

‘I believe the children are our future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way,
Show them all the beauty they possess inside,
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier,

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be….’

Whitney Houston knew it and so does the food industry. Teach them while they are young and they’ll never question it when they grow up. Yep I’ve found a child’s colouring book promoting the factory farming of pigs, read it here.
The truth is that the majority of us has a wonky perception of reality when it comes to farming, thanks to our childhood. ‘Drink milk for strong bones’ is the first one that springs to mind. (Which, if you haven’t read the post about ‘calcium and dairy’ you’ll know that bone density is mainly attributed to weight bearing exercise done during your 20s and 30s and over 40 food contain calcium – anyway back to the point…)
Start ’em young and ensure your customer of the future. We all do it, we take the kids on days out to ‘show’ farms. We buy them farm sets of the happy farmer and the animals dotted around the pastures. We coo at the baby chicks. And so we should, we should show our children the sunny side of the street, teach them what a good farm looks like and to love and respect nature. On the flip side we should teach them that not all farms are like that and that they should watch out for it as they would any danger. The same as we teach them about about crossing the road, stranger danger, smoking, junk food.
But to teach children that factory farms are great places – that is wrong for so many reasons. Where taking the pigs away from the mud into the clean barren plastic indoor stall, with a slatted floor (to allow the poo and wee to flow away) is a good thing. Or that small metal cages that house the mummy pigs are a great because it makes it safer for the piglets, or to teach them about mutilation of 3-10 days old piglets, or that ‘culling’ is the practice used to deal with the sick pigs. ‘Don’t worry children the sick pig has been culled, it is all OK now’. YES this is happening. A colouring book and quiz aimed at children of 12 yrs and under is being distributed by the US pork council, and supported by the USDA (equivalent to DEFRA) and the US government. It is lovingly, titled ‘Producers, pigs and pork’, see the real life version here Factory farming colouring books (double click the link), and take the very age inappropriate Swine Knowledge Junior Quizbowl it is worth a look, even for a laugh at how ridiculous it is. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry!

Now this is in the US so why is it relevant to us? Well there is a universal theme here and a serious topic. We are very lucky that people in the UK are not so gullible. No one would ever fall for such a tactic. Would we? Think about how many images and statements of false advertising we see every day relating to food production that we don’t question? The smiling child holding the chicken or the cuddling family in front of their spacious lawn rather than the massive windowless sheds, the Willow farm logo, when no such farm exists it is meat that comes from the EU, not even a specific country. When we start to see past the marketing messages we start to see what we need to and make the right choices.
Get your colouring pencils out, draw a blue sky, big fluffy clouds, a big yellow sun with spikes, a cow grazing in the long grass and a pig laying in a muddy hole. That is the image I want both in my imagination and my reality. P.S. If anyone does do a drawing, I’d love to see it!
Love you Whitney!
The Ethical Omnivore

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Enjoying the sun!

There is nothing better than relaxing in the sun 🙂

Everyone deserves to enjoy that as a basic right. Factory farmed animals never get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs. Support either free range, pasture fed, organic, all lamb and mutton and outdoor raised produce when you choose any eggs, meat and dairy. #rollonthesummer

Chilling with The Ethical Omnivore.

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What about the dog?

You are changing your diet, but what about your best friend. Lola, Max, Jasper, Lexi, no not your porn star name, your pet!

Pet food is a perfect example of our gross manipulation by the food industry. Yes it is convenient, yes it can be cheap, but….there are a lot of buts.

The focus is on dog food as that is where I have done the majority of my research but it can be applied to any pet food – research and question your choices. Also with my four dogs in their sixth year of eating my homemade food, it is the area I am most comfortable in. I will write a separate post about homemade dog food.

Where do you look for real advice? It is a hard one to research. The food industry spends millions on marketing, government legislation is wordy and not written in plain english, so you have to read between the lines and use your common sense. We all know that poor quality ingredients go into human food what do you think goes into pet food that is made from the left overs of that process?

Straight from the Purina website https://www.purina.co.uk/meet-purina/what-goes-into-purina-petfood ‘Strict legislation assures the quality of the protein and means that no ingredients such as spinal cord, euthanized pets or sick animals go into our pet foods.’ To be fair to the folk at Purina this is a marketing cockup on their part. In reality this is not allowed in the EU, I assume it is lifted from their .com website. People in the USA do need to worry about dead pets ending up in their dog food, for example the city of Los Angeles alone sends about 200 tons of dead pets to a rendering plant each month which ends up in dog food. We have better protection under EU policy, but be under no illusion, dog food is still well and truly in the red zone.

One could argue that pet food is ethical on the basis that it is generally made of a by-products, so it is good from a waste perspective, but that is where it ends. Pet food is on the ethical debate list for many reasons:

  • We are brainwashed into believing it is the only and best thing we should feed our pets
  • The cost of the product versus the ingredients is miles away from an acceptable ratio
  • The production methods and the permitted ingredients are proven to be putting our dogs health at both long and short term risks
  • Ask your dog – it tastes bad! What comes out of the factory as grey mush is recoloured and reformed to look like food, for your benefit
  • The low quality dog food debate has led to an explosion in high end dog foods and whilst some of them are better for your dog, the cost is often prohibitive. Plus this opens the door wider for consumer manipulation, leaving you in a spin in the supermarket aisle.
  • My personal favourite is the special diets, (unless your dog REALLY needs it), you maybe paying over the top for now reason – vet diets, the science diets, senior, food for dogs with long hair, the list goes on. Often the reason they make all of these is again consumer manipulation and often to fix the problems the other food has caused. Two wrongs don’t make a right, they just cost more!

Your dog has 1000’s of year of evolution revolving around sense of smell, they know it is grey mush. The majority of the cost you are paying is for the packaging and how it looks. For your benefit, not the dogs. I hear of so many instances of dogs picking at their food, eating slowly. Does your dog ever give you that ‘you can’t be serious’ look? Well they are trying to tell you something – listen! Dogs are designed to eat on the run, to get what they can when they can, there is nothing in a dogs DNA to make them eat slowly or to leave food (unless they are very old or unwell).

Modern dog food was invented by James Spratt, who launched the first complete dog food – a biscuit made of wheat meal, vegetables and animal blood – in England in 1860. Mill owners saw its potential as a way of selling their unwanted by-products (basically floor sweepings) and low-cost meat off-cuts at a much higher price than they’d otherwise achieve.

Over the years with better meat recovery systems what is left for pet food, is actually waste, it is food that is not suitable for human consumption. For anyone that has ever seen the Jamie Oliver series about school dinners and the mechanical recovery of chicken from a carcass to make chicken nuggets, you’ll know what I mean! There is nothing much left. Now don’t get me wrong, grinding up bones to make dog food isn’t such a bad idea and dogs can eat that, that is not the issue here, but they don’t grind up fresh bones and serve them to your dogs. The left overs next go to a meat rendering plant see http://www.midukrecycling.co.uk/compliance-legislation/animal-by-products.aspx, you’ll notice their catchy slogan, ‘converting waste’ again it is all a good idea, but if you are under any illusion that your pet is eating good quality food think again. The real issue is that you are being sold on a picture of fresh chicken and a dog with a glossy coat jumping in the air for a frisbee.

OK so it tastes bad, it is from waste product, but what about the health aspects, I mentioned earlier. Regarding general health the same applies to your dog ‘they are what they eat’. Nutrition and a good diet supports good health and it starts with the ingredients we use. But more troubling is specific health issues. This is an extract from the Food standard agency website “For pets, the main part of the risk assessment when setting the maximum permitted levels for undesirable substances will generally be the extent to which the animal can tolerate them” https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/farmingfood/animalfeed/animalfeedlegislation/pet-food In other words, it is legal to use ‘undesirable substances’ in dog food if they don’t do the animal immediate harm. A quote from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/chemicals-in-pet-food-can-lead-to-bad-behaviour-says-top-vet-913907.html “Over the 12 years I’ve been a practising vet, I have seen a substantial rise in cases of problems caused by poor diet, including allergies and intolerances, and behavioural issues linked to artificial additives in food.”

This post is not about condemning dog food. It is about being informed and making better food choices. There is a great variance in the quality and cost of dog food as well as the ethical aspects.

Labelling requirements for pet food is very relaxed. It is way more relaxed than labelling for human food and even for farmed livestock feed. This gives the manufactures a lot of flexibility and helps to keep you in the dark. Looks for labels that list ingredient in specific quantities and whole foods rather than a derivatives of.

See these examples of ingredients:

GOOD – Lily’s KitchenThree bird feast – 60% Freshly Prepared: Turkey (40%), Goose (10%), Duck (10%), Parsnips (4%), Organic Carrot (3%), Cranberries (3%), Broccoli, Organic Apple, Minerals & Herbs.

BAD – PedigreeSmall dog with chicken – Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (including 4% Chicken in the Brown Kibbles), Oils and Fats (including 0.5% Sunflower Oil), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (including 2% Dried Beet Pulp), Minerals (1.8%, including 0.7% Sodium Tripolyphosphate, an active ingredient on the Brown Kibbles), Vegetables (4% Carrots in the Orange Kibbles, 4% Peas in the Green Kibbles), Vegetable Protein Extracts, Antioxidants, Colourants

GOOD – NaturoChicken and lamb – Chicken 30%, Lamb 30%, Brown Rice 20%, Carrots 5%, Peas 5%, Potatoes 5%, Minerals, Sunflower Oil, Salmon Oil, Dried Tomato, Dried Kelp, Dried Basil

HONEST but LAZY! – ButchersTripe in jelly – Meat & Animal Derivatives (53%, of which Tripe 35%, Fresh 49%), Minerals, Natural array of Ingredients min. 99%

WHAT? – Royal CaninMedium adult dry food – (At around £8 per kg, this ingredients list depicts everything that is wrong with the food industry, IMHO) Maize flour, dehydrated poultry protein, rice, maize, animal fats,hydrolysed animal proteins, wheat, dehydrated pork protein*, chicory pulp, soya oil, minerals, fish oil, flax seeds (0.5%), fructo-oligo-saccharides, borage oil (0.1%),marigold extract (source of lutein), green tea and grape extracts (source of polyphenols),hydrolysed crustaceans (source of glucosamine), hydrolysed cartilage (source of chondroitin)….etc

I have reviewed over 40 different dog food products and my conclusion is. If you don’t really mind what your dog eats or you are on a tight budget, then go for the cheapest food, e.g. ‘Tesco own’ as I have found very little quality difference at the lower to mid end so you are just paying for marketing. There are a few mid range products that contain fresh meat worth looking at, then there a select few brands we would consider to be ethical (sourcing free range or organic ingredients). I can’t find a really cheap ethical dog food but I have found mid range through to over the top price versions. Price alone dictates the quality of products. Look for an independent UK brand, avoid big brand food manufactures and companies that have pages of information about nutrition but don’t list their ingredients, always read the ingredients labels and ultimately use common sense.

Ethical omnivores pick:

  • Homemade – 1st place (see next post)
  • Natural dog food company (full range, ethically sourced meat and fish) @ £3.67 per kg it gets 2nd place
  • Simpsons premium (organic products)
  • Lily’s Kitchen (organic products)
  • Honey Raw dog food (full range – it is all free range or organic)
  • Forthglade (beef and lamb products)
  • Other brands and products containing fresh lamb (on the basis lamb is free range)

A rough view on some well known brands, based on cost and quality of ingredients:

  • Cheap but not so cheerful – Chappie, Bakers (Purina) Winalot (Purina) Harringtons, Wagg, Tesco own (cheaper), Winalot, Cesar (Mars)
  • Worth a look – Naturo, Forthglade, Lily’s kitchen, Step up to naturals, Butchers choice, James Wellbeloved, Wainwrights, Edgardcooper, Natures harvest.
  • Not sure – price v ingredients – Nature’s table (Mars), Vet’s kitchen, Iams, Hilife, Freshpet, Applaws, Arden grange, Burns, Hills, Royal Canin, Taste of the wild

Final thoughts – Dog treats cost more per kg than the best quality human foods, go for carrot sticks and raw beef marrow bones from the butcher.

If you dog is overweight, avoid jumping to diet dog food. Try dog food that contains less junk food (less grain and other bulking agents), feed your dog more pure meat, veg, rice etc. and ideally do a bit more exercise – #goodadviceforusall

Woof woof!

The Ethical omnivore and my doggy friends.

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Have you checked your cupboards?

Our focus for January is caged hens eggs. With 48% of eggs produced in the UK coming from caged hens, we question who is still buying them? The sad truth is that most of us are. Until I started researching into this that included me! I never thought about croissants, ice cream, deserts, sauces, pasta, sponge cake, or even when I picked up an egg mayonnaise sandwich (thinking it was a good non-meat choice).

Read the label and there it is shock horror – egg (15%), egg white (3%) etc. – this is caged hen eggs used as ingredients. When we eat out, how many of us ask the waitress if the soufflé or the bearnaise sauce is made using free range egg?

Read labels, ask in the cafe, check the ingredients list when you do online shopping. You will quickly get used to what brands and products contain free range rather than caged eggs. Remember if it doesn’t state free range it is most likely a caged hen egg. By law boxed (shell) eggs have to be labelled as caged hen eggs but this does not apply to eggs used as ingredients.

I’ve done a mini comparison of everyday goods from our leading supermarkets and a brand equivalent to help demonstrate some issues:

The clear message is that this is not a cost issue, the use of free range egg relates to our perception and expectation. The producers copy each other, Hellman’s mayonnaise moved to using free range eggs and made it very public, so lots of producers of mayonnaise did the same. Mayonnaise is a low value product but because the public expectation is for free range eggs they use free range eggs.

Fresh pasta is another story. Weight for weight fresh pasta is more than double the price of dried pasta, some even have it made in Italy so they can label it ‘authentic’, BUT then still use caged hens eggs because that is the industry standard and we don’t seem to notice.

Mary Berry shame on you! I thought you were such a lovely lady and made such lovely cakes. The cake reviews are terrible which isn’t a surprise, any real baker knows that a great cake start with good quality eggs. I always smile when I crack my chickens eggs into the flour and marvel at the naturally strong yellow colour they add.

Thanks for reading

The ethivore girls (my hens!)

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