Yesterday, I mentioned how Wolfgang Puck is putting a nine-point program in place in hopes of raising the bar on farm animal treatment. And in general, I agree with these policies (I don't know many die-hard foodlovers who really don't). I've read all the "required" reading (Fast Food Nation, Omnivore's Dilemma and The Way We Eat), and understand that the way we produce our food is neither nice to think about, nor necessarily good for us. Livestock is treated poorly in order to seek maximum efficiency and higher yields, and taste and quality are often thrown out the window - not to mention the suffering the animals go through along the way to becoming food. Range-free chickens don't necessarily get to go outside (although you would think they would) and breeding sows are stuck in gestation crates for three years, crates that they can't even turn around in. The livestock industry has some terrible practices, and I'm nowhere near an expert, just a knowledge-seeking layman - however, here thinking about it gets me all torn up. I like to eat my animal products. I love me a hamburger and really believe that almost everything tastes better with a fried egg on it - I mean, ultimately these animals are part of the food chain. And yes, we can make it so they don't suffer along the way, I'm all for that, especially because it means it's probably going to taste better if the animals can go out and behave like real animals.

So here's where I have the problem. I like the idea of cruelty-free livestock, I really do. I like the little piggies and cows and don't want to see them suffer. I think our food industry has gotten a bit too bottom dollar heavy, but at the same time, I understand the need for people to feed their families at a low cost. Not everyone can afford free-range, grass-fed and so on. Also, I do love the foie gras (so smooth and tasty) and the fresh lobster (come on, how is boiling alive or being split in half while alive anywhere near humane?), and can't see why we have to give these up. There's a reason we're at the top of the food chain (for now anyways...).

So I'm torn. I'd like to do the right thing, but the wrong thing tastes so damn good. How about you guys, what do you think about all of this? Do you go out of your way to purchase specialized cruelty-free, environmentally friendly foods? Or do you purchase what you need to? How Do You Shop?