In 1906, writer Upton Sinclair revolutionized the American meatpacking industry with his exposé The Jungle. This monumental novel revealed to a largely unaware American public the vile working conditions in the meatpacking industry. Sinclair’s muckraking led to the passing of the Meat Inspection Act that same year — one of the most comprehensive food sanitation reforms to date. In more recent years, a number of films and books, among them Food Inc., Animal Factory, and The Chain, have questioned the conditions under which American livestock is raised, slaughtered and processed.
But do Americans really care about how their meat is raised? A survey conducted by Kettle and Fire, an organic bone broth company, provides some answers: Out of the 2,038 women and men surveyed, 85 percent of women and 70 percent of men said they were either sometimes or often concerned with how livestock is raised. When asked whether labeling the meat as “humanely raised” affected purchasing decisions, however, 66 percent of women responded either sometimes or often, compared to only 46 percent of men. The survey also found that 64 percent of respondents were willing to pay up to 10 percent more for humanely raised food, but when it came to eating out, 54 percent claimed they never chose to eat at a restaurant based on its decision to serve humanely raised food.
The survey showed, among other things, that a majority of the respondents were concerned with humanely raised animal products. A question about which livestock welfare issues were most bothersome revealed that access to the outside, antibiotic use, and caging were of most concern. The fact that more than 50 percent of American men and women are concerned with how livestock is raised is a testament to our continued efforts toward a more humane food system.