This is the second installment in a series on the importance of organic products. Catch up on the first post here.
I love animals. I love domestic animals, wild animals, cute animals, and ugly animals. Growing up, my very best friend was my St. Bernard, Bonnie. I was a shy child.
I have, at different stages of my life, been vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, and a number of variations in between, including a very brief stint as a raw vegan (that was about 2 days). I remember as a junior high student, when I first dabbled in vegetarianism, my youth group leader seemed to chastise me as he reminded me that according to the Bible, God gave humans dominion over the animals. That's true. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, we do have a divinely-sourced authority over animals.
I interpret that authority very differently than my youth pastor, viewing our role towards animals as stewards of the animal kingdom rather than careless masters. Whether or not you consume animal products, I believe that each of us has a responsibility to ensure that all creatures have a reasonable quality of life while they are here with us on earth.
By purchasing products that have been certified as organic and cruelty-free, we are doing our part as responsible stewards of the animal community, and conveying an important message as consumers: we won't tolerate animal cruelty. No animal, whether a lab rat or a farm animal, deserves to live a life defined by terror and grotesque conditions straight from a horror film.
But...can you trust labels?
Unfortunately, large companies know that we don't generally wish for animals to be tortured before they reach our plate or before our animal-tested cosmetics reach the shelves of Sephora. Consequently, labels on food and cosmetic products can be misleading. Notably, in the cosmetics industry, in order to market a product as "not tested on animals," a company needs only to prove that their final product has not been tested on animals...recently.
From the FDA's website: "Some companies may apply such claims solely to their finished cosmetic products. However, these companies may rely on raw material suppliers or contract laboratories to perform any animal testing necessary to substantiate product or ingredient safety...Many raw materials, used in cosmetics, were tested on animals years ago when they were first introduced. A cosmetic manufacturer might only use those raw materials and base their "cruelty-free" claims on the fact that the materials or products are not "currently" tested on animals."
It can be extremely difficult to confirm whether or not a product has truly been tested on animals, and even more difficult to determine the living conditions of those research animals - particularly if you live in the United States and no longer have easy access to the USDA's inspection reports on animal laboratories. One of my primary motivations to support Neal's Yard Remedies as a consumer and a consultant is due to their commitment to never testing on animals since the company's inception in 1981. Additionally, they aren't sourcing their ingredients in the manner of most large cosmetics companies (more on that on another day, as mainstream cosmetics production is infuriating!), rather, they are transparent regarding both their natural ingredients and their technical ingredients.
Supporting organic and cruelty-free products honors my responsibility towards animals and allows me to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Featured above is my sweet puppy, Colby, having fun in the snow, safe and happy in his backyard.
To learn more about animal testing, I highly recommend giving a listen to Stuff You Should Know's podcast on the subject, which can be found here. They present facts from both sides of the table on the subject.