"free range" is as much a marketing scam
as anything. The USDA
strict definition of "free range" is:
"Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outdoors."
And there is a specific clause stating:
"they may be temporarily confined...for reasons of health, safety, the animal’s stage of production or to protect soil or water quality."
Furthermore, this definition does not apply to eggs
, not to mention the fact that free-range says nothing
about processes such as de-beaking
(which is exactly what it sounds like) in hens, or the content of any animal's food (antibiotics
, 'leftovers' from their slain fellows, etc.)
So, in all honesty, whether or not "free range" meat is any more ethical
than its factory-farm
counterparts is anyone's guess.