Initially, it was McDonald's, but the push to get gestation stalls out of the supply chain for pork has hardly stopped there. The latest news today from Feedstuffs newspaper notes that Cracker Barrel is now joining in (among many others):
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., with 615 restaurants in 42 states, has reported that it will begin formulating plans for procurement of "stall-free" pork from its suppliers.
The announcement was made June 14 in a joint statement with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Just since February, other leading food companies — McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Kroger and Safeway — have announced moves toward gestation crate-free supply chains.
There is "an evolution" in Americans' attitudes regarding higher levels of animal welfare in meat production, and "we recognize that gestation crates may not be the best method to meet" those levels of welfare, said Cracker Barrel vice president for strategic sourcing Vance Fouraker. "[We] are committed to evolving sustainable alternatives." See the full story at Feedstuffs (subscription required)
I'm not attacking or defending gestation crates or stalls. This is not my area of expertise -- and I'll let those of you with direct experience on this topic comment here if you'd like.
However, the broader point to note -- and really get -- is that sustainability concerns and market demand runs much deeper than many people realize. As one of the farmers I work with a lot said on this topic, "Data is never wrong and is high ground, but emotion can trump science."
The only thing I would add to that is that emotion runs high on all sides, as it is an inescapable part of being human.
My hope is that future outreach and education efforts will try to listen to the concerns of consumers and connect with them at the emotional level. Then, we can offer some of that data that may change their minds.
It's been my experience that you have to be open to changing your own mind if you are to create the kind of relationship that leads to change in others.