Always Read Your Labels

By Sunday, August 10, 2014 0 5

The other morning I was making breakfast for my husband, a bacon aficionado, when I looked at the package in my hand and saw a weird phrase. The phrase was so weird, I took a picture.

Here’s the picture:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, bacon

And a close-up of the phrase in case you missed it:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, bacon

Wait, what? Is this really something we do now? Have we come to a point where something treated humanely is special enough to write home? Where it’s the exception to the rule? I’m not that naive and am aware of the reality of the livestock industry, but something about this printed as a marketing point for everyone to see was tragic.

Here’s how I imagine the company meeting went to come up with product points:

Boss: “So, what makes this bacon stand-out?”
Employee: “It’s organic! Pesticides stink.”
Employee: “It’s gluten-free! No wheat additive in something that should have nothing to do with wheat additives in the first place.”
Employee: “It’s Canadian!! Canadians are really nice.”
Employee: “It’s humane! The animals are raised in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.”
Boss: “Brilliant! Let’s include all of that in our message.”

It honestly says the stress-free, natural behavior statement verbatim on the package:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, bacon

The more I stared at that sentence, the weirder it became. What an odd sentence to have to write. It made me mad that it existed. It made me want to stop looking at packages and go blindly about my breakfast. But no, I looked at that package and spiraled from there.

I tried to guess the Department of Agriculture’s official definition of “humanely raised”. I pictured the task force assigned to come up with the definition. Those poor people, what a crappy task. I bet they used the following phrase a lot: “Nope, [legally-sanctioned activity X] wouldn’t be considered humane, so that’s out.”

I wondered what is allowed for those that don’t meet the “humanely raised” definition. What levels of stress and unnatural socialization are acceptable? What’s the line they’re allowed to cross? Why are they allowed to cross it?

Let me be clear: I don’t mean to belittle this particular bacon company. I mean to belittle the companies that couldn’t qualify for the “humanely raised” stamp. While I understand the effects of bacon mania on supply conditions for the livestock industry, it’s still weird to me that being humane is an elective.

I’ll have you know I cooked the bacon that morning and it was delicious. I added a little maple syrup, some cayenne pepper and *muah*! Just as the package promised, my breakfast was free of stress, full of natural behavior and somewhat reminiscent of Canada, as all things should be. Well, not necessarily the Canada part, but definitely all the rest.

 

Things they forgot to mention:

Always read your labels because if you don’t…being humane is apparently optional.

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