Happy Cows More Expensive to Eat

Happy Cow

Annie and I rode our bikes to Scotty’s Brewhouse yesterday. Scotty has a build-your-own-burger option where you can select the type of cheese, condiments, bun, and meat. For $6.75 you can order the groundchuck. For $9.75 you can order meat from grass-fed, free range, happy cows described as such:

half pound grass-fed, $9.75
usa born and raised product. strict animal welfare and animal care protocols. never confined to a feedlot. rather, they are in a “free range environment.” produced without the use of feed grade antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, or animal byproducts. have never been fed corn or other grain at any time in their lives. packaged at plants that have a documented record in animal welfare, food safety and sanitation. higher in omega 3, CLA, vitamin e and other antioxidants when compared with grain fed beef.

I find this to be an interesting ethical decision. Is it worth paying $3 or 144% more for a clearer conscience? If not for a cow, how about a Fair Trade, ethically produced T-shirt?

Kent says:

That is an interesting question. I think I’d pay the extra $3 for the beef and the tshirt. But how often is the question. It’s not like you can go to McDonald’s and ask to pay $3 more for a free-range Big Mac. (I guess the easy answer to that is, Don’t go to McDonald’s. But a $1.39 double cheese burger is so darn convenient and delicious!)

How often is the average consumer willing to pay more for ethics?

Kelsey says:

Kent, There’s a sock study that addresses the market for such issues (I’ve pasted an excerpt from my book about it below). Most people wouldn’t spend $3 more for a burger (or T-shirt), but wouldn’t it be great if they had the option.

From Where am I Wearing? (The best book I’ve ever written!):

A national poll conducted in 2004 for the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that 83% of those asked agree with the following statement:

“Free trade is an important goal for the United States, but it should be balanced with other goals, such as protecting workers, the environment, and human rights – even if this may mean slowing the growth of trade and the economy.”

And when asked, “If you had to choose between buying a piece of clothing that costs $20 and you are not sure how it was made, and one that is certified as not made in a sweatshop, but costs $25, which one would you buy?” Sixty-one percent of those polled said they would pay $5 more for the piece of clothing certified as not made in a sweatshop.

To test the poll’s findings, which were in line with other such polls, researchers at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University designed a study to observe the real world spending habits of sock shoppers at a “well-known department store” in Michigan. They labeled one rack of socks with a sign that said “Buy GWC…Good Working Conditions…no child labor…no sweatshops…safe workplace.” An adjacent rack of similar socks was unlabelled. They gradually raised the price of the GWC socks and found that on average a third of customers were willing to pay more for them. The researchers believe that because of some of the customers’ lack of understanding of the GWC label that the percentage of conscientious consumers is actually greater. However, even if a third of consumers are willing to pay more for GWC-like apparel, there is a major untapped market for such items.

Kyle Timmerman says:

I often buy “happy” eggs from “happy” chickens. They’re higher in Omega 3’s and possibly, karma.

Kelsey says:

Should we feel bad for eating “happy” animals? By eating “unhappy” animals aren’t we really just helping put them out of their miserable lives?

Kent says:

Good points Kels.

denise says:

I don’t have a comment on the monetary value question, but I have to say, the picture of the cow with the human smile is just wrong!

But very eye catching to say the least!

Denise says:

Also, can I post this photo on my blog?

Kelsey says:

Denise, I borrowed the photo from another blog. If you click on the photo you’ll go there.

On a related note…

I dropped the $3 extra for the happy cow the other day. I think it tasted better, but that might just be my conscience tasting.

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