For Immediate Release
Why Chipotle's Pork Problem is Good for Farmers
News that Chipotle pulled pork from many of its menus, due to an issue with one of their supplier’s animal welfare practices, has been blowing up all over the news and social media. The Washington Post and others believe that the company’s high standards for animal welfare are laudable, but at this point a real problem.
In my mind, this is a good problem.
I applaud Chipotle for holding their farmers to high standards. Chipotle seeks out farmers who raise hogs according to strict animal welfare practices. And I thank them for not compromising their principles, and for pushing production to be more humane.
So this “pork problem” is not a problem at all.
It’s an opportunity for farmers to get ahead of the curve and work with restaurateurs and grocers who demand healthy, humanely raised organic products for their customers.
There are not enough organic farmers in the United States. At Rodale Institute, we’re working to change that. On our 333 acre organic farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania we have a robust organic pork operation that is setting the standard for best practices in raising hogs.
In developing our hog operation, we learned a few things…
1. Organic hogs, including breeding stock, are difficult to source.
2. Demand for humanely raised organic pork exceeds current supply.
3. Farmers can profitably raise organic pork on underutilized, marginal land.
Just this week, we began construction on a new facility for our hogs that will revolutionize the way we raise pastured pork in the United States. The beauty of this facility is that it can be scaled up for farmers who wish to have a large-scale operation, but also scaled down for farmers who wish to have just a few animals.
How do we do this? Our hogs are raised on pasture in a facility that offers them shelter, but also open access to the outdoors. We focus on heritage breed animals that thrive on pasture. We plant crops for them to forage, cutting down on feed costs, while also managing our land effectively.
Our goal is to help farmers transition to organic or begin farming organically. Restaurants like Chipotle, which hold as their mission to serve “food with integrity,” are experiencing explosive growth.
Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For more than sixty years, we've been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.