Organic British Pork should be the only choice for Animal Welfare
Here at Green Pasture Farms we love our pork, and we love our pigs even more!
Pork can be not only a delicious treat, but also a sustainable, healthy, cruelty free food – When it is Organic British Pork that is.
Sadly, the vast majority available for sale in the UK is neither organic, free-range nor even outdoor bred pork, and is in fact unsustainable, unhealthy, and cruel.
Today we are going to highlight the differences between the various animal welfare categories of pork in the UK, and why you should always choose British organic pork if you care about you and your family’s health, the planet and the animals we share it with.
Animal Welfare Certifications in the UK
Ask a child to draw a picture of a farm, and they will draw a picture of animals outside in a green grassy field.
Sadly, this is now far from the reality of the vast majority of livestock farms in modern Britain.
Here’s a quick primer on the pork classifications in the UK:
In the UK the organic certification guarantees that pigs are reared outdoors on fresh pasture their entire lives. They have access to straw bedded huts for shelter, but are always free to roam and forage for their natural diet.
Be aware that this only applies to UK Organic. In other European countries organic pigs may only have access to an outdoor run.
- Free Range
Believe it or not, there is no legal definition of “free-range pork”. It should in theory mean pigs have access to fresh pasture, but there is no independent body to audit or survey farms making the claim so take the label with a pinch of salt.
- Outdoor Reared
“Outdoor Reared” means that pigs are born and raised outdoors for roughly the first half of their lives. During this time, they are very unlikely to have access to fresh pasture, but will have access to an outside pen and daylight. The second half of their lives they are brought indoors for intensive fattening.
The sows do remain outdoors their entire lives, though again usually not on fresh pasture.
- Outdoor Bred
As the name suggests, “Outdoor bred” means that the pigs are born in outdoor systems, usually in straw bedded arks with access to a paddock. The piglets are then brought inside shortly after weaning and spend the rest of their lives indoors.
As with outdoor reared, the sows do get to live their lives outdoors.
“Normal” we put in italics as it is anything but! Sows and offspring spend their entire lives indoors crammed into sheds. They never see the light of day, nor have the opportunity to roam or forage. Conditions are usually so poor that the routine use of antibiotics is necessary to prevent the spread of disease.
Many countries also use additives such as ractopomine, steroids and other drugs and chemicals – illegal in Europe but not in meat imported from the US and elsewhere.
A British Organic Certification is the only guarantee of happy, healthy pigs
Don’t be fooled by pictures of idyllic farms on the label or words such as natural, happy, naked or the like in the description.
Organic, outdoor reared and outdoor bred are the only legal definitions that mean anything with respect to animal welfare or sustainability.
As we’ve seen, outdoor reared or bred actually mean relatively little – there’s no guarantee a pig will ever step foot on fresh pasture, and at least half of its life will be spent confined indoors.
To know that your pork, nitrate free bacon or sausages have come from a pig that was healthy and happy, and produced in a sustainable manner that helps rather than hurts the planet, always choose pork with a British Organic Certification.
We also highly recommend that you check out the Farms Not Factories, and help support their campaign to try to stop intensive indoor pig farming in the UK.
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