*Note: Originally posted on Facebook
Dear Earls Restaurants,
I thought we had a great thing going but…I’m going to have to break up with you.
I can say I’m not surprised. We all saw this coming. You’ve joined the ranks of the Chipotles and A&Ws and have thrown your neighbor (the farmer), the Canadian agriculture industry and our struggling economy under the bus with your recent announcement to source meat from outside of Canada under the “Certified Humane” label. What exactly does that label mean anyways?
You see, when you joined this club, it indirectly applies that our food system is not one of the safest in the world. It misrepresents how much Canadian cattle farmers love their animals and treat them with the care and dignity they deserve. It implies that farmers aren’t concerned about animal pain and antibiotics. It pits farmer against farmer when it shouldn’t have to be that way. And let’s not forget the environment. Farmers are environmentalists. We care for the land, water and air because this life we lead raising and growing food is our livelihood, our passion, our future and a responsibility we don’t take lightly or for granted.
Now don’t get me wrong. I value competition, our trade neighbors down south and that we as consumers have a choice as to what we want to spend our money on, but not based out of fear of the alternative and not having more to the story than just warm and fuzzy buzzwords and a catchy label.
The consumer ought to know that there is more to this story, but unfortunately, you only tell your side in order to sell more burgers and steaks. They should know that “no antibiotics in the beef” as outlined on your website (link below: 6th paragraph) means that this is an industry standard. Farmers give their animals antibiotics to help save their lives and ease their pain and suffering. When we do give them antibiotics, they have to go through a withdrawal period and all the meat is thoroughly tested numerous times before hitting the grocery store shelves.
You state your method is “great for the planet” but you failed to mention that hormones help us decrease our environmental footprint. In Canada, farmers can give their cattle hormones early on (for only about 120 days) to help them process their food more efficiently into muscle tissue. If we didn’t use these hormones, it would take 12% more cattle, 11% more feed, 10% more land and create 10% more greenhouse gases to produce the same amount of beef.
By stating that your meat is “sourced consciously” implies that farmers haven’t worked tirelessly with consumers, industry experts, and food companies to implement a code of practice that addresses the public’s concerns, helps gain their trust and dispels myths.
This isn’t to say one production method (like “Certified Humane” or the one my neighbor chooses) is superior over the other. All methods have advantages and disadvantages and we are continually striving to improve. As farmers, we make decisions based on what is best for our animals, land and operation. But just like you, we also want what is best for consumers. We are consumers too.
I’m sorry it has to end like this, but resorting to fear marketing leaves me no choice. It was fun while it lasted.
I’m really going to miss your dynamite roll and lettuce wraps.
A Saskatchewan Farmer’s Wife, Mom & Agvocate