Recently, someone who follows our Facebook page commented on a picture we posted of our new pigs. In the picture (below), she noticed that the pigs were in a small enclosure of some sort, and said “Just curious but why are they in a small pen?”. She was implying that, in her perception, the way these pigs were being housed might not be compatible with our professed values, and requested an explanation. To some, this might have been a little forward, or somehow out of place. And to some ranchers it may have ruffled some feathers in a “none of your business” sort of way. But this friend of ours knew that she could safely ask that of us without fear of negative blowback, thanks to another of our professed values: transparency.
In fact, transparency is one of the cornerstone concepts of our farm, and it is completely foreign to the industrial model of agriculture. You’d need an appointment, a badge, and a space suit in order to visit a chicken house that raises your chicken nuggets. Why? Because if you saw/heard/smelled what went on behind those closed doors, you’d be jumping on the vegan bandwagon as fast as your pocketbook could take you! Industrial food production is disgusting, filthy, and inhumane… but take heart, there is another option besides nuts and vegetables!
Originally, certifications (organic, humane, fair trade, naturally grown, etc) originated to provide some explanation and reassurance regarding the method in which the food was raised. However, all too often they have been hopelessly twisted, altered, and weakened by those who stand to benefit from keeping the wool over the consumer’s eyes. Even the gold standard “certified organic” doesn’t mean what it used to, and is under attack by those who seek to open the door for unsavory production practices disallowed by the original restrictions. To us, transparency takes the place of these sort of certifications, and ultimately is more powerful anyway. And the kicker is, we mean it!
We encourage our friends, followers, and customers to challenge us if they see something that seems incongruous with our beliefs. I’m pretty sure that pilots invented the concept of “constructive criticism”, and you didn’t make it very far in my previous career without having some thick skin! The best thing that can happen (using the above example as… um, an example) is a simple response that clears the air. But maybe something is revealed that we overlooked or didn’t consider, and we are definitely willing to take that input to heart. There may be times that you don’t like our answer and we may not always agree, but we’ll at least provide our best explanation or reason for the choices we’ve made.
We believe in our method of raising animals, the way they are treated, and the environment that they live in day-to-day, and ultimately we want our customers to believe in us too. So feel free to evaluate, challenge, comment, question, and engage. Take ownership of one of the most important things we all control on a daily basis: what goes in your body. Come see for yourself how your food is raised by visiting the farm, no badge or space suit required (although you do need an appointment, just to make sure we’re not out running errands). We’re proud of what we are doing on the farm, and look forward to the opportunity to show it off to both potential and existing customers. Instead of “Animal Welfare Approved” we strive to be “[insert your name here] Approved”!