How we treat other animals says a lot about us, and when it comes to the way farm animals are treated in the food industry, we have some explaining to do. Animals are treated as unfeeling commodities, rather than as living creatures. They are crowded and confined in cages so tightly that they cannot walk, turn around, or lie down comfortably. Such animal cruelty is outside the bounds of acceptable conduct, and with growing awareness about the abysmal conditions that exist on factory farms, consumers are looking for alternatives.
Seeking to capitalize on this humane sentiment, meat, milk, and egg marketers are increasingly marketing their products in ways that mislead consumers. Meat labeled as "natural," for example, can come from animals living on factory farms, implanted with hormones, and given drugs. And they can be subjected to overcrowding, mutilations, and abuse. Similarly, animal products marketed as "free range" typically come from animals who are treated poorly. "Free range" only requires that animals have access to the outdoors, but access isn't defined, so thousands of animals can be raised in warehouses and sold as "free range" as long as there is "access to the outdoors," which could be a small door that leads to a small outdoor area that the animals never use.