The Ethical Omnivore


In an industrialized society, making food choices that align with our values can be a challenge. The fast-paced, time-is-money approach of large-scale food production can sometimes result in ethical compromises, as we have seen in the news. Companies chasing a profit (or even just viability) sometimes sacrifice product quality, workplace safety, and environmental standards. Fortunately, consumers now have more information at their disposal to help them make food choices which reflect their personal values.

With produce and grocery items, certification systems like Organic, SPCA, and Kootenay Mountain Grown are helping provide more information and third-party certification. As consumers continue to prioritize ethical food choices, it is a good time to consider how to make ethical choices as a meat eater.

Things to consider when eating meat

The environment: From pollution, watershed contamination, ecosystem disruption and wildlife displacement to greenhouse gas emissions, large-scale feedlot and slaughter houses can be tough on Mother Earth.

The animals: Across the globe more meat is being eaten than ever before. With animal products in such high demand, there’s pressure to reduce the amount of time it takes to raise an animal and get it to market.  The push for profit tends to take precedence over the needs of the animals themselves. Tight timelines can often lead to dismal living conditions and inhumane treatment of animals.

The people: Not only does large-scale meat production affect the well-being of the animals involved, but it often affects the safety and health of the employees that work at these facilities. With faster production speeds and stressed animals, there’s more room for workplace accidents and error.

Health: Short timelines, stressed employees, and stressed animals can often be a recipe for disaster (such as the animal abuse recently exposed in Chilliwack). When holding facilities, slaughter houses and butcher shops fail to meet health and safety standards, foodborne illnesses have a better chance of sneaking their way onto our table, and into our bodies.

Want to learn more? Check out this article from the World Watch Institute.

The ethical omnivore

Get to know your farmer, rancher, and butcher: By knowing where your meat comes from and who’s raising it, you’ll have a better idea of how the animals are treated. Getting to know your local butcher also ensures your familiar with how your meat is being handled once it leaves the farm or ranch. The Kootenay Co-op Butcher Shop is happy to share stories of farm visits, information on where our meat comes from, how it’s been raised, fed, cared for, slaughtered, aged, and of course cut.

Buy local: Buying local meat often equals less transportation, which means less stress on the animals, less pollution via fossil fuels, and less money. Shopping local also helps support your local economy and keeps smaller farms and ranches in business.

Buy organic and grass fed: When it comes to meat, organic certification not only considers the end-product, but it takes into account the entire life-to-table process of each animal. Happy animals are raised in a stress-free or (low stress) environments, fed organic feed without antibiotics or hormones, and have access to roam, graze and frolic. The meat of grass fed animals is also known to have a better omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio than grain fed animals, which means it’s healthier for the consumer.

The Kootenay Co-op Butcher Shop 

At the Kootenay Co-op we strive to provide humane, high-quality, local and whenever possible organic meat. All our meat is butchered in-house and is grass-fed, free-range, or grain-finished. We pride ourselves on visiting our suppliers and ranchers first-hand to experience their operations at the ground level. Stop by the Kootenay Co-op Butcher Shop to chat with our knowledgeable team and to learn about your favourite meat suppliers.

Our list of ranchers and suppliers include:

For more information on our product buying guidelines please click here.