Bill Bumgarner


Definition of free range

The USDA defines free range and free roaming (the two are synonymous) as:

Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.

Quite literally, the requirement to slap a free range/roaming label on poultry product can be fulfilled by opening a door to the hen house (or cow stall) once a day for a few minutes. Whether an animal actually sets foot outside of its cage/stall/barn/room/shelf/etc is completely irrelevant.

In other words, the only difference between the hunk o' beef labeled free roaming and the one next to it without the label could be the price.

Upate: Peter Larson pontificated that buying organic was a better indicator of the quality of the food. Or, more specifically, buy foods that are produced without hormones or antibiotics.

He is absolutely right. Overall, it is the hormones and antibiotics in the food that could have an incredibly deleterious affect upon the health of the consumer.

According to the USDA standards, Products labeled as "100 percent organic" must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients.

A just plain "organic" label drops the requirement to 95%. "Made with organic ingredients" drops it down to 70%.

So, an organic label does not actually imply anything about drug or hormone exposure. 100% organic might, but there aren't any published standards that I could find.

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