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Natural Foods Merchandiser

How humane is your meat counter?

If, as the gurus at the Sterling-Rice Group say, innovative chefs pave the way for tomorrow’s in-store food trends, humane-certified meat ought to be on your order sheet.

Recently the NFM editors sat at a “humane table,” along with noted animal advocate Temple Grandin, as acclaimed chef Kevin Taylor prepped a humane-certified meal to benefit the Englewood Colo.-based American Humane Certified program. The attention was great for the certification which is relatively new to the eco-label scene having only begun appearing in 2003.

The tenets of humane-certified ensure farm animals are treated like living, feeling creatures. Animals are not caged or put in stalls, given hormones or antibiotics and have ample space and shelter to limit stress. Humane treatment, some say, carries through to the quality of the meat resulting in a better-tasting finished product.

We cleaned our plates of chicken and blue cheese roulade, veal cheek with risotto and buffalo tenderloin as did, at another humane table, the foodies on Bravo’s hit show Top Chef. Recently the cheftestants lit the burners to prep a humane-certified meal on a humane-certified farm for farmers practicing humane-certified principles. In a not-so-typical move, the meal saw judge Eric Ripert cleaning his plate to which judge Padma commented (just to send home the humane-certified point) that all the ingredients are humane-certified and came from the Upperville, Va.-based Ayrshire Farm.

After a brief chat with Taylor, it appears the humane label could become as popular as “local” on menus across the country. As attention builds, expect customers to look for it in your store. Below, Taylor sounds off on why he looks for humane ingredients to use in his restaurants.

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