How to Avoid Food from Factory Farms

Is It Possible to Avoid Food from Factory Farms?


avoid food from factory farms

Avoid food from factory farms (Photo by HSUS).

Have you ever thought about the amount of food you eat that comes from factory farms? (You might be surprised). Meat and dairy from factory farms are widespread and common now.

Today, I’m going to answer two questions I’m frequently asked:

  1. Why should we avoid food from factory farms
  2. How can we avoid food from factory farms

WHY should we avoid food from factory farms?

Factory farms have undoubted benefits. The most obvious one to you and me is that meat and dairy products would be a lot more expensive if they weren’t around.

Related: What exactly are factory farms?

Sadly, however, there are several problems with food from factory farms.


avoid food from factory farms to avoid waste

Aerial photo of Tascosa Feedyard in Texas by Mishka Henner. Cattle in rectangular lots or yards, waste products in a ‘lagoon’. Hopefully this ‘lagoon’ never leaks.

  1. Farm workers’ health is adversely affected
  2. There are serious animal welfare concerns – animal cruelty at factory farms is legendary (search the Web for “factory farm animal cruelty” and you’ll see what I mean)
  3. Animals are routinely fed artificial additives to make them grow faster, and we then eat them
  4. Due to the crowded conditions, many factory farm animals are given antibiotics throughout their lives to stem the spread of disease. This widespread antibiotic use leads to antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’.
  5. The nutritional value of food from factory farms is lower than that of organic food.
  6. They have a major impact on the environment.  They
    • Use huge quantities of precious water, and may contaminate the water supply
    • Pollute the land in and around the area where they are situated
    • Cause air pollution on the farm and in the surrounding area
    • Increase greenhouse gases and thus impact climate change

OK, now we know the WHY, what about the HOW to avoid food from factory farms. There are 4 main ways you can avoid factory-farmed meat and dairy products.

Avoid Food From Factory Farms with Your Wallet

You know how if you buy a more expensive car, you’ll get more features / greater safety / more space or other benefits? More expensive clothes are often better made and last longer. It’s the old saying “you get what you pay for”.

avoid food from factory farms to avoid water use and pollution

Aerial photo of Coronado Feeders in Texas by Mishka Henner, showing cattle in feedlots and the waste ‘lagoon’.

Yes, you may have to pay a little more to avoid food from factory farms. But if you want to eat healthy food, it’s worth paying more to put the good stuff into our bodies. “You are what you eat”.

Eating good food is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

Luckily, it’s possible to do that without feeling the pinch too much — just Reduce!

Avoid Food from Factory Farms By Reducing

We’re eating more meat than ever before – and we don’t need that much!

And it’s not just meat – cheese consumption has grown rapidly, mostly due to pizzas and burgers.

This map shows meat consumption around the world – the countries with the darkest colour eat the most meat:

via – click here to see a larger, interactive version

Worldwide Annual Meat Consumption Per Capita 2011

When you buy good, healthy meat and dairy from traditional farms, you’ll appreciate it more, and you’ll be eating healthier. So buy less of it, and enjoy alternatives in your diet for variety. There won’t be a huge impact on your budget.

Avoid Food from Factory Farms By Avoiding Supermarket Meat

You can’t tell much about how your meat was raised when you buy supermarket meat. Yes, it’s convenient, but it’s not half as much fun as going to a farmers’ market, farm stall, co-op or small butcher, and talking to the farmer about their produce. They often have more variety too. (They can even give you great advice on how to cook something you haven’t tried before). And in general, their food is locally sourced so it’s green and eco friendly.

avoid food from factory farms for animal welfare reasonsYou can also look for farms online – many smaller farms and ranches sell directly to consumers on their websites. Check out how they raise their animals – if you only see photos of the finished, end meat product, they’re probably not as ethical as those who display exactly what they do.

Avoid Food from Factory Farms By Knowing Your Labels

Food labelling can be deliberately misleading. Here’s what you need to know.

Pasture-raised or Pastured meat is great. This means that the animal you are eating was out in the fresh air eating a natural diet, getting exercise and living more in tune with nature. Cows for example naturally wander over 2 miles a day, slowly foraging for the best grass. Depending on weather conditions they may need to be brought inside for winter, but they should be outside the rest of the time.

avoid food from factory farms with Certified Organic foodOrganic – USDA Certified Organic meat and dairy products require that animals be fed a minimum of 80% organic ingredients with no slaughterhouse wastes, antibiotics, or genetically modified grains. They must have some access to the outdoors, to exercise, and to bedding. However nothing is specified about access to pasture. Dairy cows for example may spend their lives in huge sheds on concrete floors, even though they are fed mostly organic food.

Grass fed meat means that the animal was fed some grass. However, the USDA definition of “grass fed” simply means it was fed grass – but it may also have been fed grain, slaughterhouse wastes, antibiotics and other additives. Plus, the animal was not necessarily outside in the fresh air.

Free Range is normally used for poultry. The USDA isn’t very specific about details – it could just be that they “occasionally” get outside – perhaps onto concrete.

Antibiotic free means the animals weren’t continually fed antibiotics but the meat can still be from a factory farm, and they may have been fed other anti-microbial drugs instead. The label sounds better than it is in reality.

In the UK, Europe and Australasia labels can also be misleading.

In the UK, the Freedom Food and Soil Association stamps on meat and dairy produce offer higher animal welfare benefits so look out for those labels if you can’t buy from a local market.

In Australia look for the Humane Choice label.

Just Avoid Food from Factory Farms

avoid food from factory farms for happy animalsFactory farms are bad news on so many levels.

Yes, it takes a little effort, but when you avoid food from factory farms, reduce the frequency and portion sizes of meat, poultry and dairy, you willL

  • help stop the spread of factory farms,
  • help to give animals a better life,
  • reduce pollution and health issues from factory farms,
  • and help to slow climate change.

Traditionally-farmed animals live healthier, better lives, and the food we humans take from them is safer, tastier and healthier.

Please spread the word about how to avoid food from factory farms – Sharing buttons below and right – thank you!

5 comments… add one

Your thoughts and opinions are important to me! Do tell me in the comments below!

  • insearchofitall 15th April 2015, 6:10 PM

    It seems in the US we live to eat instead of eat to live. I doubt there will be enough of us living consciously to bring factory farms, Monsanto or big pharma to its knees but If you keep plugging away, you can help put a small dent in it. Yes, we eat too much of everything. Thanks for trying at least.

    • Clare Delaney 21st April 2015, 11:51 AM

      Yes, it does seem a rather insurmountable problem, I agree. But perhaps the Suffragettes also thought their chances of getting women the vote were pretty insurmountable too – and now it’s a right we appreciate (in some cases, take for granted). I see more and more people shunning factory farm meat, in the US and around the world. We can all do our bit by supporting “proper” farms and I’m always hopeful about the power of voting with our wallets. Thanks for your comment!