Shopping Humane at Farmers Markets
Identifying Humane options
FACT recommends that you support farmers directly, and engage with them to learn more about your food. Consider asking farmers at area markets:
- Do your animals have access to well-managed pasture?
- What do you feed your animals?
- Do you use antibiotics, hormones, or any growth promoters?
Asking questions about the food issues that you care about can enable you to get the products you want, while also making connections with farmers in your community. To learn what practices are humane and which answers to look for, read our humane principles.
Feeling shy or want a short cut? Look for farmers whose products have a humane certification label on them. Keep in mind that certification can be too time consuming or expensive for a small family farm to pursue, so a farm may have humane practices but not be certified. You can learn about our work with the ASPCA to help family farmers achieve certification.
To find a farmers market in your area, use the USDA's locator search or Local Harvest's Farmers Market search. Due to the growing popularity of farmers markets, there may be a winter market available at an indoor location year round.
If a market isn't available in your area, you may still be able to find a farm near you, or get involved in starting a market.
Supporting a local CSA Program
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are an excellent option for purchasing local food. Generally, a consumer pays at the beginning of the season for a set amount of food, and then receives it from the farmer once it is ready to be eaten.
A CSA may deliver food directly to you at a premium, or may ask that you pick up your food on a set schedule from a farm stand, farmers market, or community center.
Finding a local CSA can be easy and straightforward, as well as learning more about what to look for when subscribing to a CSA. Meat CSAs are becoming more popular, and give you the opportunity to directly inquire to the farmer how your meat was raised.
Feel free to ask questions of any CSA that you are considering so that you make an informed decision that works best for your family. Please note that CSAs are not usually equipped to provide you and your family with all the food items you need, as many products are seasonal.
Tips for Shopping on a budget
It costs more for a farmer to raise animals humanely on pasture. From buying better quality feed, to laying water lines and fences across fields - raising animals humanely takes more labor, time, and money. However, this doesn't mean that eating humanely has to break the bank.
- A thoughtful meal doesn't have to be all or nothing. Picking one item to start with is a great way to support a better food system, and has a real impact. Eggs, milk, or cheese may be only a few dollars more than their industrial counterparts, and can be a great place to start.
- If you're looking for meat, a more unusual or less expensive cut may surprise you - pasture raised meat is often more lean and nutritious than its conventional counterpart, and many chefs appreciate it for its high quality. Ask your farmer what they recommend!
- If you've got the refrigerator space and aren't afraid to do some serious cooking, buying larger cuts of meat can be less expensive than buying each component individually. Homemade sausages, fresh broth, and a new skill set can all be incredibly rewarding.
While shopping at farmers markets and eating humane may cost more up front, industrial animal farming isn't cheap. Damage to the environment and water sources, health problems caused by air pollution and poor food safety practices, and the impact of growing antibiotic resistance all cost tax payers.
FACT works to make humane food more available through our grants, scholarships, and educational opportunities for farmers, and by working with federal regulators and corporations. You can help us with our work by signing up to take action or by donating.