This summer I’ll celebrate a decade of being vegetarian (yeah, I’m getting old). Being a veggie isn’t always easy, and I can’t say I haven’t cheated on occasion (for some reason, I really craved buffalo wings when I first started), but year after year the cause has stayed important to me.
But this post isn’t about me; it’s about Whole Foods’ new animal welfare ratings. Last month, the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods announced the launch of the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards, a new labeling system designed to educate consumers on the living conditions of the meat (pigs, chickens and cattle) they eat.
What does it all mean? The ratings are determined by independent third-party certifiers using auditors trained by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP). Essentially, the higher the step, the better the conditions for the animal. Step 1 equals “no crates, no cages,” meaning the “animals live their lives with space to move around and stretch their legs.” Step 5+ means the animal has enjoyed Step 1-5, including a “pasture-centered” life and living only on one farm.