Why Buying Fresh and Local is Not Enough

In the Fire

As the green movement enters the mainstream food industry, more customers are looking for choices that reflect higher levels of quality in their food. But for many diners, it's no longer enough to eat ingredients that are local, certified organic, and free from genetic modification, hormones, chemicals and antibiotics.

Culinary Arts

Now customers want meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and fish from animals that have been treated humanely--and not just for ethical reasons. They're beginning to link food safety, nutrition and flavor to animal welfare practices. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted for the American Humane Certified (AHC) found that 58 percent of consumers felt the labeling of animal products as humane was more important than organic or natural. But is the food industry ready to meet these standards?

Chefs Are On Board

The concept of cooking with humane food is not new to professional chefs. In 2007, Wolfgang Puck promised to serve only humane animal products in his restaurants. Some chefs say they prefer humanely raised meat because the animals haven't been sick or stressed during their lives, which can toughen the flesh and degrade the taste. Meat producers are also interested in potential benefits of raising humanely treated animals: a growing market and long-term productivity of the animals.

Price can be a concern for both chefs and producers of humane food, since it costs more to keep animals happy and healthy or to provide the space necessary for them to range freely. Some critics say that because consumers have gotten used to the low cost and poor quality of factory meat, convincing them to pay higher prices will be an uphill battle. But proponents of humane food have faith that as consumers make the connection between animal health and human health, they will be willing to pay higher prices. They also argue that as more people demand humane food, the market will adjust and prices will become more competitive.

Standards for Humane Food

To meet the need for rating and labeling humane food, several independent organizations have emerged. Created by the American Humane Association, the American Humane Certified (AHC) program is a farm animal welfare standards program that provides producers and consumers with independent verification of the ethical treatment of animals.

Similarly, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a five-year-old division of the Animal Welfare Institute that certifies and promotes family farms. The Global Animal Partnership is an international group that also performs third-party audits and certifications for farms.

These rating systems are based on points for meeting certain criteria for raising animals humanely, including:

  • Cage free
  • No crowding
  • Entire life on one farm,
  • Fed off of mother

Similar to the process the food industry went through to create a reliable standard for organic products, there are still some bumps in the road when it comes to creating an industry-wide animal welfare standard that includes all species, provides a way for retailers to easily understand the rating system, and makes it simple for consumers to identify the labels.

Cruelty-Free Recipes Support the Cause

Chef Alex Seidel of Fruition restaurant in Denver--one of Food and Wine magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs in 2010--recently served a holiday meal consisting of recipes made solely with ingredients from AHC producers to promote this new standard of animal welfare. Joining the trend, Whole Foods is one of three large food corporations that has agreed to raise their animal welfare standards.

Most chefs agree that what they serve has to taste good and be reasonably priced, but with the demand from customers and the support of animal welfare organizations, more and more are willing to take the risk of providing humanely treated products knowing it's better for animals, farms, customers and communities.

About the Author:

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

            2 Program(s) Found
            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104