“Smithfield is taking a first step in phasing out crates for pigs, but I’m concerned about 1) the lack of producers moving to truly humane animal husbandry standards and 2) the recovery of the family farm,” my colleague at the Animal Welfare Institute told me.
Yes, group housing for thousands of breeding sows in warehouses is a much better option than sows being crated within that warehouse and I really laud this improvement, however, Smithfield’s practice still entails:
• Pigs living their lives on slatted floors , breathing in urine and manure-filled pathogens as feces fall through the floor and are piped into huge, environmentally-unfriendly lagoons
• A lack of nesting materials for sows and piglets
• Confinement to warehouses with no natural daylight or outdoor access
Whole Foods has always focused on selling organic food and in 2003 began working with the Animal Welfare Institute to incorporate some of these additional improvements into their species-specific Animal Compassionate Standards to promote more humane care for farmed animals.
What about family farms? With global warming having become a mainstream topic, there is a growing demand for local food requiring a minimal amount of energy needed for transport. But, according to Farm-Aid there are only 565,000 U.S. family farms left today, down from 7 million in 1930, and 330 farm operators are leaving their land every week.
In their most recent leadership move, Whole Foods is solidifying their supply chain for locally-grown, humanely-raised, organic food by offering loans to Midwest farmers to supply its 22 Midwest stores and is partnering with a Chicago non-profit, Sustain to process the applications.
Sustain’s FamilyFarmed.org project supports Midwestern organic farmers by connecting them with markets and consumers. The FamilyFarmed.org label (shown above) can be used on fresh fruits, vegetables, and packaged foods. The FamilyFarmed.org logo includes the production location and the name of the farmer or processor to encourage a deeper connection with the producer. In showing their commitment to locally-grown food, the Midwest Whole Foods region has asked all their regional organic producers to use the FamilyFarmed.org label to easily promote locally-grown food.
This Saturday, May 19th, Whole Foods is donating 5% of Midwest store sales to help Sustain connect family farmers to markets. I’ll be volunteering at the Willowbrook, IL store. Stop by to support humanely-raised, locally-grown, organic food and say “hi.”
With an MBA in Sustainable Management, Janice Neitzel, a principal of Sustainable Solutions Group, is facilitating organizations in sustainability strategy and innovative supply chain solutions while blogging on environmental, social, and animal-related business practices.