Pasture raised. Hormone free. All natural. With so many buzzwords, it’s hard to decipher labels on meat, eggs, and dairy products. Which ones are just greenwashing, and which ones can you trust?

Liberally used terms like “free-range” paint a bucolic picture that is far from the reality of today’s industrial farming system. Raising animals in crowded confinement is the standard practice in America because it’s efficient and profitable, but it’s also inhumane. As consumer demand for humane and sustainable animal products grows, labels featuring bold claims and happy animals frolicking in lush pasture have proliferated in the meat and dairy aisles, most without federal regulation.

For CUESA, humane means things like allowing animals to engage in the natural behaviors that are important to their wellbeing, and minimizing stress to the animals, from birth to slaughter. We’ve detailed specific practices in our Sustainability Frameworks, and we endeavor to partner with producers whose practices align with these values. To help you decode the labels, see our Animal Welfare Guide.