A couple of weeks ago, I found some bacon. Not Facon (fake bacon) but real bacon. I kind of want to eat it.
It's produced by Applegate Farms, and the packaging proclaims that it lets the pigs have their self-imposed hierarchy and social organization - pigs are very smart, complex animals, and most farms cause them great distress by splitting them up and not letting that social order fall into place. They're also never given antibiotics (unlike farms that pump animals full of them every day) and are fed a natural grain diet (instead of being fed other animals).
The only question their packaging and their website didn't answer for me was about their slaughter methods. They seemed likely to have humane slaughter methods in place, but I wanted to be sure. So I emailed them. And I didn't hear back for weeks.
Earlier this week, I finally did.
"Our standards include Humanely Raised on family farms in an environment that promotes natural behavior of the animals through more room to move about freely. Our animals are never administering any antibiotics, growth promotants or animal by-products. Our animals are fed an all vegetarian grain or grass diet as each species is intended. And we follow humane slaughter practices as suggested by Dr. Temple Grandin.
...We also try to go above and beyond conventional standards to create our own industry definitions & to raise the bar - for example our "natural" takes into account raising practices which formal definitions do not. Our unique standard also includes unfailingly humane slaughtering/processing methods."
Ignoring the terrible phrasing and grammar (which I'll chalk up to a random person being assigned to answer emails), this is pretty straight-forward about how they do what they do. Temple Grandin's website, which they included, tells what her version of humane slaughter is: stunning the animal before killing it, so that it isn't conscious for any pain. That also makes the meat taste better, apparently. Regular slaughter methods increase the animal's adrenaline right before death, which makes meat tough.
But I still hesitate. This meat appears to meet (ha!) all my standards for being raised and slaughtered humanely. Yet I've gotten so used to avoiding meat that I would feel like a major cheater-pants for chowing down on some bacon. I've got a chance to buy it this weekend, if I want, so this is the testing point. If I don't buy it now, I probably never will.
Oh, and there's one more thing keeping me from buying it: it's $5.89 for a package of four, FOUR strips of bacon. Granted, they're three inches wide and eight inches long, but that's some expensive bacon. If I start chowing it down, I'll only permit myself to buy it once every two months or so. Edit: That price was wrong. It's $7.99 for 8 ounces ($1 per piece). Still expensive, but better.
But should I?