Natural Equals No Harm
All-natural. Cage-free. Free-range. Certified organic. These days food packaging can have misleading buzzwords. Most food boxes and packaging make some sort of claim about the product. It’s the company’s opportunity to convince the discerning buyer that their product is somehow healthier, more environmentally conscious, or better for the welfare of the animal.
This is not the case. Natural does not mean no harm. Cage-free and free-range do not mean humane. Certified organic does not mean healthier for the planet or you. Plenty of things are natural plant sources to this earth that pose harm and have natural carcinogens (i.e. nicotine, heroin, and morphine). The FDA has no set definition for the term "natural" and is considered a gray area when it comes to food labeling. Cage-free and free-range are used to project an image of happier and healthier living conditions, when in reality thousands of animals are crammed into poorly ventilated rooms with little room to move.
"Organic" is another word that can easily manipulate the public into believing humane or earth-conscious farming practices are used. Although that was the original intention behind organic farming, the certification has been exploited by large companies to control the $40 billion market. Although meat packages that are labeled organic guarantee what goes into the animal, it does not - by any means - set a standard for the welfare or treatment of the animals. Large scale farms that are "certified organic" often resemble a factory farm and sneak past rules by hiring for-profit inspectors.
The only way to know what you’re eating is to be conscious about brands you buy, knowing the source of your food and to read the nutritional labels. Read over words like “all natural” and research the companies you're supporting. Stick to local, in-season products from farmers markets and health food stores. Not only can you can often meet the actual farmer and learn more about their farming practices, you'll also be helping support your local economy. The Humane Society has a great resource of how to read past the labels. When in doubt, avoid processed packaged foods and buy whole foods that don't have claims to help defend themselves.