One of These Things Is Not Like the Others


As I described in Humane Seals of Approval, there are three national third-party food certification programs that focus on the humane treatment of farm animals:

In recent weeks, Michael has done copious research on all of them, focusing on finding local products with their seals. He’s nothing if not determined, and sometimes I can practically smell his steely resolve wafting out of our home office. It seems I’ve created a monster.

Prior to Michael’s research, we hadn’t really distinguished between the three programs. And given the reality of factory farming, it seems silly to perseverate over the differences between three organizations that are all on the “good” side, with animal welfare as their priority. They each have a different approach, and maybe that’s necessary to meet the needs of as many consumers, farmers, and animals as possible.

That being said, Animal Welfare Approved is very different from the other two programs: in addition to having far stricter animal welfare standards, they’re the only certifier that charges nothing and that limits its focus to independent family farms. From this and other information Michael has found, it’s clear that the other two certifiers are targeting larger, more corporate producers (their looser standards, in particular, fit this conclusion 1. As Michael says, this might be about money, it might reflect differences in vision or strategy, or it might be about something we don’t yet understand.

In any case, while we will continue to buy products certified by any of the three programs, AWA has won our hearts.


  1. Some examples: AWA is the only program that prohibits confining sows in crates or cows in feedlots, and it’s the only program that requires animals to have access to natural light and pasture. To learn more, see AWA’s A Comparison of Industry Guidelines and Independent Labels.

2 thoughts on “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

  1. Good news! Just got word today that the programming is starting for our new, improved, searchable database for Animal Welfare Approved. Will keep you posted with potential launch date when we get more information.


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