The labeling of animal products is becoming more complex, with a plethora of descriptors, including organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and wild-caught. These labels are attractive, particularly to those conscious of their health or concerned with the welfare of farmed animals. However, they can also be confusing or even misleading. What is the difference between cage-free and free-range, and how can we be sure we're putting foods that align with our ethics and health concerns into our bodies?


1. Organic

Organic animal products, including eggs, milk, and meat, are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. Livestock farmers must meet strict standards established by the department and their facilities must pass regular inspections for their products to be labeled organic. Organically-farmed livestock is raised on certified organic feed and land. These farms must also ensure animals have access to direct sunlight, clean water, dry bedding, and outdoor space to exercise and graze.

USDA organic standards Ihor Kashurin / Getty Images

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