This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production.
Retailers and restaurants like Whole Foods, Chipotle, Safeway, McDonald's and Wal-Mart are all providing information to consumers about how sustainably some of their foods were produced. But as I found doing this story, it's hard to know just what "sustainability" means and how to judge whether food was produced in a "sustainable" way.
A customer examines the beef selection at one of the Hyvee grocery stores in Columbia, Mo. The new country-of-labeling rules force meatpackers to detail where much of this meat was born, raised and slaughtered.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
A new labeling rule that went into full effect Saturday requires meatpackers and retailers to provide consumers with more information about where their meat comes from.
The country-of-origin labeling mandate (COOL) forces retailers and meatpackers to list where the livestock from which that meat came was born, raised and slaughtered. It applies to certain cuts of beef, veal, chicken, pork, lamb and goat sold in the supermarket. Processed, deli and ground meats are exempt from the new rules.
Just south of Hermann, Mo., Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. processes 2 million pounds of meat a year -- everything from cattle to hogs to buffalo to elk.
And everything gets a label.
“No antibiotics added, raised without added hormones, all natural, minimally processed," Glenn Brandt, the production manager for Swiss Meat, reads from a hefty roll of hickory smoked beef sausage stickers.
What this label does not indicate, however, is whether or not the sausage contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.