Farm Forward

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Farm Forward is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to promote conscientious eating, reduce suffering for farmed animals, and advance sustainable agriculture.[1] It was founded in 2007 by its current CEO, Aaron Gross, Ph. D., whose main work has been in animal advocacy, as well as in the emerging scholarly field of animals and religion.[2] Farm Forward is an animal advocacy group that is dedicated to the welfare of farmed animals, working to ensure that farmed animals are treated in a way that is humane and sustainable. In addition to working with farmers and other animal advocacy groups, Farm Forward works with farmers, animal advocacy groups, and various institutions in order to encourage consumers to seek out animal products that promote animal welfare and sustainability.[3]


Buying Poultry[edit]

Buying Poultry is a website that was launched by Farm Forward in 2015 with the goal of empowering consumers to purchase poultry products that align with their values. Buying Poultry is a national database that rates poultry products based on how humanely the chickens were treated on their farms. It describes the different labels that are associated with these products, and explains what these labels entail in the industry, so that consumers may be better informed about the products they buy.[4] On the website, a number of poultry products are assessed in accordance with their welfare certifications―Animal Welfare Approved (AWA),Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership (GAP)―and the various labels that are associated with the products.

Ultimately, the primary aim of the Buying Poultry website is to increase the demand for humane and sustainable poultry products through consumers. Accordingly, it is meant to bring about an increase in the supply for such products, while simultaneously decreasing both supply and demand for standard industry poultry products.[5]

Buying Mayo[edit]

Buying Mayo was a campaign launched in 2014 by Farm Forward against Best Food and Hellman's mayonnaise, both of which are owned by Unilever. At the time, Best Foods and Hellmann’s were participating in the practice of maceration, the process of sending male birds of the egg laying genetic strain to their deaths shortly after they hatch due to their inability to lay eggs.[6] The purpose of the Buying Mayo campaign was to convince Best Foods and Hellmann’s to end this practice. The Buying Mayo campaign succeeded in convincing Best Foods and Hellmann’s to end its use of maceration. It did this in two ways. First, it started a petition that demanded the companies to find other ways to deal with these male chicks than maceration. Second, it posted two videos with essentially the same message as the petition. These resulted in a promise by Unilever (Best Foods and Hellmann’s parent company) to seek alternatives to maceration.[7]

Ag-gag Legislation[edit]

Ag-gag state legislation is aimed at punishing participants of undercover farm investigations.[8] In 2012, Farm Forward launched a campaign to prevent ag-gag laws from being made. It established a website,, to gather public opposition to ag-gag. Between 2012 and March 2016, 16 states introduced ag-gag bills which failed to be implemented. Still, other states have succeeded in passing ag-gag bills, some of which are currently in effect.[9]

In 2014 Idaho successfully passed an ag-gag bill. As a response to this, Farm Forward joined a coalition of animal protection organizations, civil rights groups, and media outlets to file a lawsuit against Idaho in federal court. The result of this lawsuit was that Idaho’s ag-gag laws were ruled unconstitutional due to infringement of the first amendment. According to University of Denver Law professor Justin Marceau, “[the ruling] means that these laws all over the country are in real danger.”[10] Farm Forward, along with the coalition it joined, continues to fight ag-gag across the United States.

Religious outreach[edit]

Farm Forward is working alongside the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on the Faith in Food initiative. This initiative is meant to reach out to various religious institutions in order to motivate them to create ethical food policies that address animal welfare in accordance with their specific faiths and values.[11]

Through its religious outreach, Farm Forward helped to arrange a partnership between the HSUS and Hazon. Through their partnerships, the two groups hope to promote compassionate food choices, especially in the Jewish community.[12]

In addition to reaching out to religious institutions, Farm Forward also supports publications that encourage scholarly discussions of the role of animals in religion. CEO Aaron Gross’ The Question of the Animal and Religion, David Clough’s On Animals Volume 1, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals are some of the books supported by Farm Forward for their promotions of animals as religious subjects.

One particular part of Farm Forward's religious outreach is the Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). JIFA is a Farm Forward initiative that aims at educating the Jewish community on the ethics of factory farming and encouraging Jewish institutions to promote eating policies that elevate animal welfare as a significant Jewish value. JIFA urges these institutions to act in any way they can to promote animal welfare.[13] JIFA focuses particularly on Jewish institutions that serve animal products in order to assist them in lowering meat consumption and finding higher welfare sources. It also helps these institutions establish new supply chains so that their animal products will support more humane farming methods.

Eating Animals[edit]

Eating Animals is a non-fiction novel written in collaboration with Farm Forward by one of its current board members, Jonathan Safran Foer. Eating Animals provides a discussion of the many consequences that have followed the proliferation of factory farms. Moreover, it attempts to explain why and how humans can be so loving to some animals while simultaneously being indifferent to others,[14] and explores what this inconsistency tells us about ourselves. The book offers a significant emphasis on “storytelling,” which is the title of both the first and the last chapters of the book. This is Foer’s way of recognizing and dealing with the complexity of the subject that is eating animals, and suggests that, ultimately, “stories about food are stories about us―our history and our values.”[15]

For Farm Forward, Eating Animals is a way to bring people into a discussion about the current state of animal agriculture.[16] Farm Forward encourages the use of Eating Animals as an educational tool for classrooms around the world, reaching out to colleges and high schools to suggest an inclusion of the book into the classroom. Farm Forward organizes annual “virtual classroom visits” with Jonathan Safran Foer, during which classrooms all over the world discuss the prevailing themes of animal and food ethics found in Eating Animals.

The book was adapted and extended into a 2018 documentary film with the same name, directed by Christopher Dillon Quinn and co-narrated by Foer and Natalie Portman.[17] Like the book, the documentary is meant to explore contemporary animal agriculture alongside the complexities of food ethics. Farm Forward hopes to see this documentary expand the reach of Eating Animals’ message so that more people think of eating animals in new ways.


  1. ^ "Farm Forward, Inc. - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  2. ^ "Biography - Aaron Gross - College of Arts and Sciences - University of San Diego". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  3. ^ "Farm Forward Review | Animal Charity Evaluators". Animal Charity Evaluators. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  4. ^ Shaw, Jessica Marmor. "Grade A chicken? Here's a new way to size up poultry". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  5. ^ "BuyingPoultry Helps Eaters Make Informed Choices | Food+Tech Connect". Food+Tech Connect. 2015-12-23. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  6. ^ Halteman, M. (2011). "Varieties of Harm to Animals in Industrial Farming". Journal of Animal Ethics.
  7. ^ "Dear Hellmann's and Best Foods: We want to trust our food". Buying Mayo. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  8. ^ Bittman, Mark. "Who Protects the Animals?". Opinionator. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  9. ^ "What Is Ag-Gag Legislation?". ASPCA. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  10. ^ "Judge Strikes Down Idaho 'Ag-Gag' Law, Raising Questions For Other States". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  11. ^ "Animals and Religion : The Humane Society of the United States". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  12. ^ "Holy Cow: How This Funder Found Religion in Farm Animals". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  13. ^ "The country's tastiest chicken will soon be kosher | Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  14. ^ "Flesh of Your Flesh". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  15. ^ Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-316-08664-6.
  16. ^ Gross, Aaron (2010-03-18). "Jonathan Safran Foer's Controversial New Book, Eating Animals". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  17. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2018-06-14). "Review: 'Eating Animals' Skewers Factory Farming". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-08-21.

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