USDA Photo: Ken Hammond

Mark your calendar so you can shop at your local Whole Foods Market on Tuesday, Jan. 24, when the company will donate 5% of its total global sales to the Animal Compassion Foundation.

“The quest for cheap food in our society has created an industrialized model of meat production in which animals are bred and raised in conditions focused on efficiency rather than on the basic needs of the animal,” says Whole Foods CEO and cofounder John Mackey. “As another important milestone on our path to being a responsible tenant of the planet, Whole Foods Market created the Animal Compassion Foundation to act as a forum in which meat producers can learn, share and be inspired to ensure animal welfare as a top priority.”

Whole Foods Market has set strict requirements for food safety and high standards for animal welfare in its Natural Meat Program. Last year’s launch of the Animal Compassion Foundation parallels the development of the company’s next generation of meat standards: the Animal Compassionate Standards, which will require farm environments to provide enhanced support of animals’ physical, emotional and behavioral needs. In the future, as specific standards for each species are completed and labeling logistics are finalized, producers who successfully meet the standards will be able to label their products with a distinct designation.

“The foundation was created to help producers make the transition to these higher levels of animal welfare that we are encouraging producers throughout the world to achieve,” Mackey says. “Over the long run, with access to the information available through the Animal Compassion Foundation, we hope more producers will see the intrinsic merits of raising animals in a compassionate manner and will be inspired to follow this lead.”

The foundation focuses on four primary areas:

  • Searching the globe for ideas and innovations from ranchers and farmers who are raising their farm animals compassionately
  • Creating a worldwide network of animal-compassionate producers to share knowledge and improve practices
  • Collecting knowledge of compassionate husbandry methods in an online library to assist interested producers in successfully adopting these techniques
  • Providing research money to producers for on-farm research and animal scientists to seek solutions to current husbandry issues