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Tag: meat production

Photo from WhiteOakPastures.com

 

It should be a rule never to have a Spring-forward, daylight savings time change in the middle of a two-day conference. I was exhausted from both the information packed day on Saturday and the evening gala, and didn’t expect 9:45am to feel so early. I was determined to ignore the tiredness and focus as it was day two of the Edible Institute (“EI” – click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series).

Note: The second day of EI, included several video and film viewings. Rather than include them all in this already too long blog post, we’ll be devoting next week to videos. Visit each day to watch these fabulous food-related video clips.

Telling Sustainable Meat Stories

I have to admit that the title of the first panel, wasn’t rocking my world. I was, however, impressed that the EI staff had managed to secure Chris Arnold, the Director of Communications for Chipotle. Also gracing the panel was Jeff Tripican, CMO & EVP of Sales for Niman Ranch, Will Harris who is president of White Oak Pastures and finally, Whole Foods Markets’ Meat Coordinator, Dave Ruedlinger. Boy was I in for a meaty treat.

The Chipotle story is truly fascinating. Founder Steve Ells essentially threw out the fast food restaurant model and started from scratch when he opened the first Chipotle restaurant in 1993. Over the years, the chain has grown and evolved to include: organic black beans, no dairy (sour cream and cheese) from cows treated with rBGH growth hormones, only antibiotic-free chicken, and are working towards a higher percentage of naturally raised beef and local suppliers. Arnold notes that, “We have the highest food cost of any restaurant [chain] in the industry and the highest profits…while we’re far from perfect, it’s surprising that more restaurant companies haven’t followed our model.” In 2000, Chipotle decided to move to all sustainably-raised pork and this meant a $1 increase to the carnitas for the customers. Arnold explains that many of their customers eat at Chipotle because they like the food, not because of any social message.
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Image: Andres Rueda via Flickr

Don’t think you need buy organic meat? Think again. The US FDA released an estimate on the amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States. The grand total is over 29 MILLION pounds in 2009!

2009 was the first year the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine required sales and distribution data of antimicrobial drugs approved for food-producing animals (cattle, poultry, swine) including:

“…(1) the amount of each antimicrobial active ingredient by container size, strength, and dosage form; (2) quantities distributed domestically and quantities exported; and (3) a listing of the target animals, indications, and production classes that are specified on the approved label of the product…”

- 2009 Summary Report, Food & Drug Adminstration

If we take cattle as an example, we know that they are meant to forage grass and digest it through their multi-chamber stomachs. Today’s commercially raised cows are fed a diet of corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, and likely never see a fresh blade of grass in their lifetime. They are eating a diet that they were not meant to eat and this has led to a situation
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