I’m always pleasantly surprised at how informed people in the Triangle are about their food choices. I like to pat myself on the back and sigh contently to myself, “Yeah, I’m one of those people.” I buy my meat from local farmers at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, I joined a CSA this year, I volunteer at events that promote local, sustainable food consumption like Farm to Fork and Terra Vita. I pat myself on the back some more in a dark corner, careful to avoid looking smug in public.
I look for the Animal Welfare Approved sticker in restaurant windows and, well, actually just in restaurant windows. Definitely take a moment to learn beyond the maybe obvious mission of this organization with nationwide-reach and check out their website. For those who just can’t be bothered to click through, “The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.” It will help you be a more thoughtful pork belly consumer, amongst other things.
Forget this patting myself on the back nonsense. Triangle food lovers should be giving a double pat to every Center for Environmental Farming Systems (at NC State) employee that crosses their path. Every time I learn about some cool new tool to help me learn just a bit more about food issues in this area, I almost always trace the knowledge source to a project of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS).
Earlier this week I received a very cool email via the CEFS free, open to the public “local foods action plan” listserv announcing the partnership between the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University and Animal Welfare Approved “to conduct a nationwide study on American food choices and tourism”.
I’m the kind of person who plans vacations around food. Exploring quality local food and beverages are a driving factor in my vacation choices. This survey cast a spotlight on the fact that even though sourcing local specialties when I travel is important, I kind of toss out the whole “interest in Animal Welfare Approved” thing because, “Humph. It is just so hard to find a restaurant/shop/market that is Animal Welfare Approved when I’m traveling. Back off, I’m on vacation from being a responsible consumer.”
While browsing their site today, I noticed a rad resource link right on their homepage, “Find Farms & Products“. Basically, you enter your search criteria into a few fields, and boom. Through the magic of the internets, they find restaurants, catering companies, markets and more that meet the Animal Welfare Approved Standards. I found 10 restaurants in Nashville, TN that meet these standards! My search yielded 6 Birmingham, AL restos.
Now when I travel, I can cross check my hotels on Tablet and Trip Advisor and my restaurants on Animal Welfare Approved and Food & Wine before this little lady makes any decisions about where to sleep or where to eat. The edumacated traveler wins again.
I may be patting myself on the back again right now. Busted.