If it says free-range, then it probably is not

When a large supermarket made a pledge that all their Pork and eggs will be free-range in the future, freerangetarians must have thought that their time had arrived.

Whatever the large supermarket's intentions were, it is now clear that their business model is totally incompatible with producing real free-range animal products. Rather than raising the standard of ethical farming, the demand for free-range products has seen the term "free range" become a meaningless gesture that is as believable as labels like "made from local and imported ingredients" or "product of Australia".
Critics have unjustly condemned food elitists for choosing superior  'free range' products, likening it to an upsell for affluent middle-class wankers, however, given the distain the industry has shown freerangetarians, it is true, that we have been made to look like fools with artificially-orange egg-yolks on our face.

The industry has wiped its hands of all morality, and has upsold 'free-range' to the consumer, passing all moral responsbility to the consumer but without any consumer power. When the same suppliers market both free-range and factory farmed products, then one has to wonder what moral position these suppliers have towards ethical farming. Their choice to supply both labels tell us they believe they can take an ammoral position and let the consumers be responsible for demanding ethical farming methods. Yet, ethical farming cannot come from people who have no ethics, and this has been proven in the delivery. This is now seen with egg and pork suppliers pushing more and more for making the free-range label meaningless. In the end, the suppliers and supermarkets just want to be able to print "free-range" on their plastic packaging and sell you the final product without you knowing more.

With lawyers being scrambled to protect the brand of Victorias biggest "free range" producers,  you can bet that the farm in question is not the little country animal haven that we have led to believe it is: freerangefraud.com

So what about the free-range chicken in the supermarket? can we really believe that one free-range farm can really supply all Australias free-range chicken demands?

The reality is, that ethical farming requires lots of farms and lots of farmers, and cannot be done on the mass scale that supermarkets have become accustomed to with Pork and chicken. The only animal products that are truly free range in the supermarket are those that do not require such a label - the lamb, the beef and the dairy. These come from thousands of different farms all around Australia, they are not owned by one large multinational food producer, but by individual families. They operate on margins that allow for a reasonable farmer to animal ratio - yet we know the business model of the supermarket is likely to threaten these true free-range products.  And so it must be for chicken meat, eggs and pork, if we are to have truly ethically raised products, then it will need to come from many thousands of farms, or involve the employment of many thousands of farm-hands. Small producers may not be able to pay for accreditation schemes, but they are far less likely to raise animals in awful conditions or try to push the meaning of free-range to have no meaning at all.

So, if you are a true freerangetarian, don't be fooled by the false promise of the supermarkets with their psuedo-free range labelling, start to look around for real local suppliers with no accreditation apart from that which comes from being accountable to consumers and their own ethics.

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