I noticed this chart front and center at my local Whole Foods meat counter. Whole Foods has collaborated with Global Animal Partnership—a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals—to implement its 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards in every Whole Foods Market store in the United States and Canada.

The reason for this partnership is explained on their website: "It's often easy to forget that the burger, steak or drumstick on your plate was once an animal. How was that animal raised? How was it treated? Where did it come from? What about added hormones and antibiotics? Was its growth artificially accelerated to get to market sooner and reduce feed cost? We are committed to answering these questions."

Visit the Whole Foods website for more information where you can download their brochure providing greater detail on each of the ratings systems.

During a recent visit, I purchased a whole pastured chicken (with the highest rating of 5) for the same price as a caged chicken ($2.79/pound). For under $11, I left the store with a chicken I could feel good about eating. As a consumer, this ratings system has certainly caused me to pause before making choices for what to buy at the meat counter.

What about you? Has anyone else made conscious food choices because of this ratings system, or will you do so in the future?