The Importance of Animal Welfare

Animal welfare can be a contentious topic because people generally hold different beliefs about the ethical and moral considerations involved in the use and treatment of animals. Some people believe that animals should be treated with the same level of respect as humans, while others see animals primarily as resources to be used for human benefit. Regardless of their viewpoints on the levels of “good” animal welfare, there is a general definition and basic standards on which most people do find common ground.

Animal welfare refers to the ethical treatment of animals in all aspects of their lives. According to Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a nonprofit organization that works to promote animal welfare through advocacy, education, and outreach, the term encompasses a variety of factors, including:

1. PROPER NUTRITION & HYDRATION: Animals should have access to adequate amounts of food and water to maintain their health.

2. APPROPRIATE HOUSING: Animals should be housed in environments that meet their physical and behavioral needs. For example, animals should have access to clean, comfortable bedding and space to move around.

3. GOOD HEALTH: Animals should receive appropriate veterinary care to prevent and treat illnesses and injuries.

4. PROPER HANDLING: Animals should be handled in a way that minimizes stress and reduces the risk of injury.

5. FREEDOM FROM DISCOMFORT: Animals should be protected from extreme temperatures, humidity, and other environmental factors that could cause discomfort.

6. FREEDOM FROM FEAR & DISTRESS: Animals should be protected from situations that could cause fear or distress, such as overcrowding or exposure to loud noises.

7. ABILITY TO EXPRESS NATURAL BEHAVIORS: Animals should be allowed to engage in behaviors that are natural for their species, such as foraging or socializing with other animals.

At Menomonie Market Food Co-op, we recognize the importance of animal welfare and have implemented policies that promote it throughout our operations. Although we work to offer a selection that appeals to a wide variety of diets to stay in business, we also do our best to source responsibly from suppliers who are as dedicated as we are to caring for their animals. For example, we source meat, dairy, and egg products from local, family-owned farms that allow their animals to graze freely in open pastures, provide them with natural feed and clean water, and avoid the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. All of our fresh and frozen seafood is sourced from U.S. suppliers who follow sustainable fishing practices to avoid overfishing and habitat destruction. And we offer lots of plant-based options for shoppers who choose to forgo meat altogether.

Our organization has high standards for animal welfare because it reflects our broader mission to promote health, sustainability, and social responsibility in the Chippewa Valley. By supporting regenerative agriculture and responsible sourcing and making informed choices about the food we sell, we hope to help build a more humane and just food system for both animals and humans.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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