Farm Forward is committed to supporting the ranchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are increasing the availability and market share of more humanely produced meat, eggs, and dairy. Here we feature some of the farms and corporations that have impressed us most.
Most farms today have become not just factories, but fortresses lacking even basic transparency. It is easier to see the inside of a prison than the inside of a hog CAFO1 Confined Animal Feeding Operation. or industrial slaughterhouse. This is part of a larger strategy deployed by agribusiness to prevent the public from knowing how the most important consumer products in our lives are actually produced.
Learn more about the most humane and sustainable farmers in America the ways you can support them:
Even experts are denied access that would be normal in any other industry. When the prestigious Pew Commission completed its 2-year study of industrial farmed animal production—the most comprehensive ever done—they made the following assessment:
There have been some serious obstacles to the Commission completing its review. … The agriculture industry is not monolithic, and the formation of this Commission was greeted by industrial agriculture with responses ranging from open hostility to wary cooperation. In fact, while some industrial agriculture representatives were recommending potential authors for the technical reports to Commission staff, other industrial agriculture representatives were discouraging those same authors from assisting us by threatening to withhold research funding for their college or university. We found significant influence by the industry at every turn: in academic research, agriculture policy development, government regulation, and enforcement.”
With some notable exceptions, virtually all the meat, eggs, and dairy in today’s supermarkets comes from operations that flatly refuse any public access to the farms that raise and kill the animals many of us eat. This is unprecedented. At no other time in our history has the production of the food we place in our mouths and the mouths of our families been hidden behind barbed wire fences and secrecy.
This is one reason why Farm Forward singles out the truly courageous producers and businesses that open their doors wide and invite scrutiny—even criticism—from consumers and advocacy organizations. We believe that consumers can appreciate the limits of what is possible for corporations when they are brought in on the conversation. Food corporations often have incorrectly assumed that consumers primarily want cheap food. In the long run more dialogue with advocacy groups is more profitable, and it allows companies to keep ahead of the increasing consumer and regulatory demands for green and humane products.
The most transparent operations are small, local, and family-run, but scale need not limit transparency. Large and mid-size food corporations can and do make commitments to transparency: Three of the most impressive are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Niman Ranch, and Whole Foods.
If a meat producer doesn’t trust you to look at their farm, it’s probably not a good idea to trust them to feed your family.
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