On various paleo blogs and such, I have been reading about hormones used to grow chickens, antibiotics to keep pigs alive, and cattle raised in inhumane conditions.
This has made me realize that I know nothing about the food that I've been eating for years and it's a shock.
What are some good books, blogs, or other resources that I can use to learn more about the nature of these industries (beef, poultry, pork, etc.) and figure out which companies / farms are the providing the safest and healthiest food?
Food Inc is a great movie to get mostly the "bad guys' information - althought the farmer in the movie was great - i'd love to buy from him if I lived near him.
A great resource for the good guys is http://www.eatwild.com/index.html
Also - go to a local farmer's market and ask loads of questions of the local vendors - they will be only too happy to help you - and you find out so much great local information.
There're also the films King Corn and Fresh and you can, of course, read The Omnivore's Dilemma. Check eat wild and localharvest for local producers. The supermarket will always be somewhat mysterious. There are third party certifications that do carry some weight, however, including the grassfed certification from the American Grassfed Association and the Certified Humane label. Organic is also likely to be better than conventional. All other labeling can be pretty spotty like "cage free" and "free range."
The Omnivore's Dilemma is really the resource on this issue. There is a lot of other info, some of which are mentioned above, but really, this book is the best there is. Michael Pollan certainly earned his reputation with this book.
oh, my favorite rant subject... the above mentioned films and books are a great resource!
in addition, a wonderful web resource is http://www.eatwild.com/ . you can connect with smaller farmers in your area that are raising their animals in the proper way. It's very, very difficult to get great meat in the grocery store. In larger chain stores, nearly impossible. If possible, try local farmers / farmers markets. These will be the best sources of all, and if you can find a farmer willing to sell directly to you, can be quite cheap. The labeling on most food is so manipulating and misleading that often you imagine you are buying one kind of product, when in reality, you are being sold something very very different.
Kudos to those who pointed out "cage free" and "free range" don't mean much.
Even if cost is not an issue, consider buying organ meats, they're often less expensive and much more nourishing than muscle meats. The website "offal good" has some great recipes and info. To further bring the price of well raised meats, buy on the bone varieties and make stock from the bones later. Super easy and rewarding. "Meat" by Hugh Fearnsley-Whittingstall is a good resource for more on meat thrift.
Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals changed the way I (and my husband and kids) eat meat, eggs and milk (for them). It's all about how our meat is produced now. He's got a bit of a vegetarian bent, but it's not preachy.
Just another suggestion:
And then there are third party organizations like Food Alliance certifications. (in the United States) which certify that:
1) Healthy and humane care for livestock with no growth promotants or sub-therapeutic antibiotics
2) No genetically modified crops or livestock
3) Verified supply chain traceability
4) Provide safe and fair working conditions
5) Protect biodiversity and wildlife habitat
They have a long list of requirements..not saying that every farmer needs or wants to apply to this. But its a start in the right direction.
Just be careful digging Into the information. I find it hard to eat meat due to watching now they are raised, killed, shipped. I have not ate red meat sense fast food nation. Not a joke. I am fine without it. I love animals way to much and reading and watching has made my protein choices smaller and smaller. I don't have a problem with farm raised like from my family but anything else its hard for me to deal with it. Even the way fish are transported. There is great info out there just don't let it get to you. :-)
I can't stand beef, what to do? 10 Answers
Chicken vs Beef vs Pork liver 6 Answers
Is it weird I don't like Pate anymore? 3 Answers