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Chipotle: There is no pork shortage

Minnesota Farm Living

It seems there is a pork shortage at Chipotle. Or at least that is what was announced today. According to Chipotle, one of their pork suppliers has violated their housing agreement for pigs. The company demands that its suppliers raise pigs in “humane conditions with access to the outdoors, rather than in cramped pens.” So, because the supplier violated the pig housing agreement, Chipotle will not purchase their pork, which is resulting in a pork shortage in over 1700 locations in the U.S. Here is a picture of a pig pen in our barn.  Do you think they look cramped? And as you read on, you find out there is NO pork shortage. 

Courtesy of Minnesota Farm Living
Pigs in pen (cramped pen per Chipotle)

In the past, Chipotle customers may have noticed signs stating when certain meats don’t meet the company’s “responsibly raised” standards, a substitution will take place. What is the substitution? Conventionally raised animals. But this time there will be no substitution for the pork.

Now it’s no secret that Chipotle is no friend to America’s farmers. They have repeatedly thrown farmers under the bus. How? Because we actually take better care of our animals. Housing animals outside does not equate to better pork. Genetics, nutrition, health care and management do. The winter weather is downright cruel to pigs. And how do we know that? Because we have been there – years ago, our pigs were housed outside. And it’s bad. Frozen waterers, frostbitten ears, broken legs (from slipping on ice and snow) on pigs, and sick pigs from pneumonia are just a few of the difficulties we encountered housing our pigs outdoors. 

Why doesn’t Chipotle want pigs housed indoors? One reason I believe is our culture’s view of farming is nostalgic. People either remember or have seen pictures of the good ole’ days. They know most consumers are removed 3-4 generations from the farm. And Chipotle is capitalizing on that disconnect. Chipotle believes it’s customers think animals are better off living outdoors. All they can imagine are those absolutely gorgeous, sun shining, 70-degree days with a warm breeze to the face, sitting under a shade tree. It just doesn’t get better than that, right?

But it’s not the reality. In Minnesota, our winters can be outright brutal and terrible. No animal or human should be outside during many days in the winter. So, can anyone tell me where the logic of how that is “better?” Is outdoor housing better for the pigs or just better for someone’s ideological views?

Another reason is many consumers believe that farm animals are raised in factory farms. Well here is my explanation to that statement. 

Farmers raise pigs, not factories.

But it’s their brand. Chipotle.

It’s all about marketing and making themselves look better by trying to show they are superior than their competition by using fear marketing. But it’s also about choice. That’s why I will never eat at Chipotle. I will eat at establishments that respect hard-working and respectable farmers. I will not get caught up in the “fluff” of marketing. 

And while I am somewhat saddened to see that Chipotle is not serving pork right now, I know there are many, many other Mexican restaurants that would love your business. Or wait a few months and you can grill your own. And there is nothing better than a grilled pork chop!  And you want to know a secret? These pork chops came from animals that were housed indoors. And it is some of the best pork around. In fact, we can’t grill it fast enough to keep up with customer demand!

Courtesy of Minnesota Farm Living
Barn-raised pork!

This post was written by Wanda Patsche and originally published on Minnesota Farm Living. Follow Wanda on Twitter: @MinnFarmer.

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Comments (80)

“humane conditions with

“humane conditions with access to the outdoors, rather than in cramped pens."

They are insisting on "access" to the outdoors, not that the pigs be forced outdoors at -20.

I have always heard that pigs are intelligent. Don't they have the sense to come in out of the cold?

come out of the cold

Sure they do. I raised pigs this way for years with my dad. They will come out of the cold and bury themselves in straw. However, imagine this. It's -20 outside, or even 10 above 0, and you have the furnace set at a toasty 70 degrees. Open a door, or even a small window and leave it open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm sure you would not want to pay for that heating bill, and it will still get really cold.

Now just imagine since you can't afford to run your furnace and heat mother nature with the window open you just turn off your heat and use blankets with the door open. That is what it is like. Yeah it's better than being out in the cold, but wouldn't you rather shut the window and turn on the furnace? I'm sure you would be much more comfortable, much as the pig would.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. This is interesting. I'm wondering, though, why on earth would you leave the entrance/exit open 24 hrs/day? I allow my dogs to have access to the outside yard whenever they want. They have a dog door. They can get in and out and I can heat my house without trying to heat the whole county. Seems like a similar method could be employed with pigs. If dogs are smart enough to use a dog door, certainly pigs are.

Also, I did not see where it said Chipotle requires 24hr access to the outdoors. I would assume that the access would be during the day only, and closed at night. Just like you would do with chickens.

Humane conditions

And the other issue is when you have pigs outside in straw it becomes a dripping wet mess. The pig's body heat along with the cold causes condensation. And its just wet. Not good conditions for pigs.

What nonsense!

Almost as silly as posting a picture of a room full of pigs, with nary a stool or urine puddle in sight, and expecting everyone to believe that the pigs have spent all their time in there like that. Perhaps, she's trained them to use a litter box? No one would, literally, house pigs outside, as she describes, in this state. Pigs, while allowed free access to the outside, would always have a shelter, and that's where the straw is placed.

Have factory farmers lost their common sense?

That's because . . . .

those are slotted floors the pigs are standing on. The waste material falls through.

Although you bring up an interesting point - even with slotted floors, there should be SOME amount of random waste that landed on the concrete rather than falling through a slot. Since nothing is visible, presumably it has been hosed away.

Assuming that's the case, how often does this "hosing down" process occur? And are the pigs removed while it is going on, or do they get hosed down also?

(As a related aside, poorly-run dog pounds do this with dogs in their care - hose down the runs while the terrified dogs are still inside. Costs too much to take them out while the runs are cleaned, and then the dogs are left on the disinfectant-soaked concrete with whatever bedding they have also soaked.)

Perhaps you may need a new

Perhaps you may need a new pair of spectacles. As there is clearly some reminants of dried fecal matter smeared on the floors. Don't be so quick to judge something you don't have any knowledge of. Farmers clean their pens often, and this one has quite obviously been cleaned recently. People like you would be quick to judge the dairy farmers as well. Do you want to know what we do everyday? We run recycled water through our pens to clear out all of the waste. We are left with spotless pens. Which will become soiled again and the same cleaning process will be repeated. Are you going to call me silly when I post a picture of my spotless pens?

These responses are depressing

Pigs need and will use a clean dry shelter. But they will still often choose to sleep outside. Pigs aren't bothered by cold the way people believe they are. Heat is far more stressful.

With a wood floor in a portable shelter and a bale of hay for bedding the shelter remains dry and the animals will keep it very clean.

I think a lot of people assume pastured pigs are on mud lots, and that's simply not the case.

Extreme heat is more

Extreme heat is more stressful than extreme cold possibly but they are both quite stressful. Confinement operations keep pigs at the temperature that creates the least stress because they will be the most productive. What's good for the pig is good for the producer.

Reading comprehension and logic

Two problems:

1) Your quote of the Chipotle requirement for housing reads pigs should be raised in “humane conditions with access to the outdoors, rather than in cramped pens.”

"Access to the outdoors". That doesn't mean "outdoors only". It means "Outdoors as an option if the animal wishes it."

So a long diatribe about how pigs who are "housed outdoors" suffer is not even talking about the same thing as what Chipotle is requiring in their housing agreements.

A little reading comprehension would go a long way, here.

2) Regardless of any photos you might post of YOUR barn, until and unless you see photos of the barn(s) which Chipotle is objecting you, you have no idea whether *those barns* are cramped or not. This is basic logic. Are suppliers' barns cramped? Maybe they are and maybe they aren't. Posting a picture of YOUR barn does nothing to answer that question.

So sorry, but I commend Chipotle for being consistent in standing up for what they say they require of the their suppliers. And your post presents absolutely no useful information that would convince me to feel otherwise.

comprehension

Knowledge goes a long ways too. Swine that is allowed access to outdoors is much more susceptible to sickness. It's just plain good management and better for livestock to be kept indoors. If that is what Chipotle truly wanted I would commend them too but they are a lap dog for the HSUS and do what they tell them to do. There simply isn't any reason to request swine raised with access to outdoors. It isn't based on any kind of research or knowledge at all and meant to only stir up emotions of people to support the HSUS cause.

Yep, that's why I never allow

Yep, that's why I never allow my children outdoors. It would make them more susceptible to disease. Who cares if they never see the sky?

Comprehension

Access to outdoors results in the same problems. Winter problems such as broken legs because they slipped on the ice or snow, frozen waters which denies them water until they are unfrozen and a higher level of sickness.

As far as the pens being cramped. The vast majority of pig farmers work closely with their animal care specialist, which is their veterinarian. The veterinarian (along with swine housing standards) dictate how many pigs can be housed in a pen. There is no benefit in putting more pigs in a pen than can be handled efficiently. Cramped pigs don't grow as well.

And, honestly, this isn't really the issue with Chipotle. Farmers raise pigs in different ways - there is no one right way to raise them. The issue is Chipotle is inaccurately portraying the vast majority of American pig farmers being cruel to their animals and pumping their animals full of antibiotics - both of which could not be further from the truth. They want consumers to fear every other farm in the U.S., unless it's the one that supplies them. It's all marketing.

Pigs grow

The pigs in your photo aren't cramped...yet.

But that's because they're still very young. Once they're full grown, when each one of them has tripled or quadrupled in size, are you going to be so willing to share a photo?

Pigs Grow

Yes.

Sorry, no.

"Housing animals outside does not equate to better pork. Genetics, nutrition, health care and management do."

As a consumer I beg to differ, greatly. Pork from hogs that have been raised outside, allowed to wallow, and root and forage for their food are considerably more flavorful than the mass-produced variety shown in the picture above. Part of the reason there is a shortage is due to the fact that there is a demand for such product beyond Chipotle

No question about it, Jeffrey.

There is a marked difference in the flavor of not only pork, but free range, grass fed beef as well. Frankly, I'm beyond tired of reading Ms.Patsche's diatribes and constant accusations of any company that demands a better standard of treatment for their animals as "no friend of America's farmers."

flavor

Flavor is subjective. You may prefer pork raised outside. Good for you. I prefer the taste and less fatty pork of hogs raised inside nowadays. Aside from taste, wallowing and rooting create a much higher risk of pollution of waters. Do you really want that? I'm incredibly tired of people who have never been on a farm in their lives and have never raised an animal before telling farmers how they should raise their livestock. Farmers raise leaner better tasting pork today because consumers didn't like fatty pork that used to be raised. Yes pork raised indoors does equate to better pork due to health care and management. Swine raised with access to outside are much more susceptible to sickness. They may be smart enough to stay inside when it is 20 below but that doesn't mean they stay in at all times. Any time they go outside whether it is 70 and sunny or 30 or 20 below leads to an increased risk of sickness.

Bubble

Yup - keep 'em in a bubble! And while you're at it, why not pump them full of antibiotics just to make good and certain they never get sick (or fail to gain as much weight as you can cram onto them so that you'll make that much more at market). Antibiotic resistance? Phew! Who cares!

Never been on a farm in their lives?

That will be news to me as I spent many a summer evening bailing hay on my grandparents dairy farm.

I grew up working on a

I grew up working on a dairy/hog farm in WI; my wife grew up on a hog farm in SW MN - I do know a bit about farming. Manure management from the farms that are pictured above produce the equivalent amount of 'shit' that a small city which goes onto the land untreated. So yes, I would rather have a hog rooting and wallowing in a properly managed pasture. "Better tasting pork" is also subjective so please give that a rest. Yes, I'd much rather taste something that tastes like pork than some water-filled dressed up chicken breast. Also, I've never heard of PEDV running rampant through a properly managed free ranging hog farm, so tell me just how healthy those 1,500 animals in that barn really are.

manure

The manure from farms is fertilizer plain and simple. The reason waste from cities is treated first is because it is more of a danger to people if it is not treated. Farmers utilize manure to fertilize their crops and manage it to have little to no runoff if done properly. Wallowing and rooting leads to increased runoff and soil erosion and would not be recommended by any educated person.

PEDV is not the only disease or illness swine can get and yes it can affect properly managed free ranging hog farms as well. There is no reason it wouldn't be able to and no research in the world indicates free ranging hog farms would be immune to it.

I grew up

PEDV has nothing to do with pig housing. It will and can affect all types of pig farms. You probably don't hear of it affecting pasture raised farms because there the numbers are not there. The manure that you speak of is spread on farm land as plant nutrients. Manure is tested along with the soils and between the two, an amount is specified. Too much results in wasted nutrients and not enough results in a lack of plant nutrients. It really is the ultimate recycling program.

Pastured pork is better in every single way

When pigs are managed in an intensive rotational grazing system, it nullifies all the negatives that you try to bring up about it. The key is to create an ideal disturbance in each paddock. Not enough and you will overwork yourself and stress the hogs. Too much and you create conditions for the pollution you speak of. No manure to haul around or throw in a toxic lagoon. Low to no inputs and costs. Just carbon sequestering, soil building, solar powered management. Happier pigs are tastier pigs, which may be subjective but everyone I know that's tried pasture raised hasn't gone back. We can leave one thing off the debate table however and that is that is the nutritional superiority of pastured pork. Not even up for debate!

Well it would seem

If "hard working" farmers are decent businesspersons, they might look at the situation and take advantage of an obvious demand, produced by consumer desire and a successful restaurant chain. Last I checked the customer is always right, regardless whether their choice makes you happy, or is easy to fulfill. Railing away at your potential customers about their "foolish" desires (with no small amount of snooty condescension, which is hilarious coming from a supposed "salt of the earth type") is not a particularly good way to make money. Fact of it is, whether farmers like it or not, they WILL sell consumers what they demand, raised in the manner in which consumers demand. Should they choose not to, they'll be displaced by those who will, free market 101.

And that choice is available

And that choice is available to them right now.

And Chipotle has made their choice

Which they are within their rights to do.

This is a disingenuous post

This is a disingenuous post that misleads the public. Factory farming is a non-sustainable dangerous enterprise that threatens the groundwater with pollutants from giant manure pits filled with antibiotic laden feces and urine as well as creating an environment that is wildly uncomfortable for each individual pig - more so for mother pigs who do not even have room to move around after they give birth for days upon days. It is a cruel depressing existence for all these pigs that have high intelligence and huge need for social interaction. They have no space to live a full life and gnaw on eachother's diseased and injured bodies in frustration. I find nothing whatsoever good about the lives that these poor pigs live. Mere square feet, much like a convict sentenced to death row. Completely unlike our pigs who live in the great outdoors, happy, healthy, full of vibrance and joy to be alive - allowed to be the pigs they are, rooting in the snow and basking in the sunshine. Shame on you Wanda for spreading such nonsense and baloney. Kudos to Chipotle to have the balls to stand up to misguided people such as yourselves. If you are interested in learning how to let your pigs live like real pigs and sell real pork to customers who understand the difference between horrormeat and delicious pastured pork that every person really wants deep down inside, I will happily talk to you about my experiences.

poor lady, poor pigs

People like the author of this article are the one of the main reasons I decided to become a farmer. Big Agricuture is so depressing to me, animals are only units of potential profit, not beings deserving respect. The contracted pig/chicken/turkeys farmers are cogs in the machine, not the self-employed and fufilled food artisans they could be.

Pigs are extremely intelligent, and because of this they especially deserve to live a good life before they are turned into meat. Our customers will attest to the fact that happy pigs taste like a whole different food group from the bland dry factory farm pork this woman is defending. Happy, humanely raised pigs who live outdoors with plenty of room to run, root, play, wrestle, dig, forage as well as shelter from the elements- this was the standard shoved aside by profit and technology. Farmers in this Big Ag system, like the writer of this article- I feel so bad for you. You've bought into a system of agriculture which is making farm families sick from exposure to chemicals, antibiotics, methane, contaminants. Yes it produces a lot of food, but at what long-term price? I'm sad that you are proud of your barn-raised pork coming from your miserable pigs.

It was one of our customers who told us about this "article." I am so happy to see the commenters who see past this woman's big-ag propaganda. Enormous buildings full of pigs are not a healthy food system, nor are they producing a healthful product. We are all told to get outside ourselves, to get exercise and sunshine year round. Pigs living in a darkened barn with zero ability to engage in natural behaviors- it's not good for any being.

Since you are another pig farmer . . . .

I'd be interested in hearing more about your actual real-life experiences in raising pigs as you do. Especially in light of an earlier article by Ms. Paschke ( http://www.minnpost.com/minnesota-blog-cabin/2014/10/what-i-wish-people-... ) which includes the following passage (among others):

"I wish people were on our farm to see the looks on our faces after the drowning of newborn piglets who were savagely placed there by another pregnant sow. The horrified looks when we discovered a total of 10 baby piglets laying at the bottom of a mud puddle, a mud puddle created by a recent thunderstorm. I wish they could experience our heartbreak as we removed each baby pig from the mud puddle."

It was claimed - particularly by one commenter to that thread - that this and other kinds of destructive behavior occurred routinely by pigs allowed to live outdoors but not by pigs housed indoors under contemporary management practices. And it was further claimed that anyone disputing this has no firsthand knowledge of pig-raising.

But you clearly have that firsthand knowledge, and so I am interested in hearing how many of the kinds of claimed behaviors you have observed in the pigs you are rearing in an outdoor environment.

Thank you.

These statements were

These statements were referring to the time in our farming lives when our pigs were raised outdoors.

Perception is fun

I am engulfed in the swine industry for professional and personal reasons by choice. I grew up raising pigs outdoors like Chipotle likes, and I have been involved in the conventional methods of pork production and both have pros and cons.

However, I want to dispell a few myths that I have seen pop up in the comments.

1. Flavor: There is not a difference in flavor between an outdoor raised pig and a conventional raised pig that is the same genetics and nutrition program or the ability of the one preparing the food to correctly cook the pork. Most of what you think is flavor difference is a mind set. You think it is better because of the way it was raised. Well unfortunatley that's just not true. I have done the research on meat quality and it is based on genetics more than anything.

2. Antibiotics: Farmers do not keep pigs on antibiotics their entire life. Completely false. Also, the majority of antibitiotics that are given to pigs are not given to humans, so there is not an interaction or potential for resistance. You are far more likely to get resistance based on your own use of antibiotics. Any "antibiotic residue" is not going to show up in meat anyway, again research shows this. This is just a myth to push you against meat.

3. Animals not treated with antibiotics are more likely to remain sick. How is that humanely raised? Also, it has been shown that the bacteria load in the meat from those types of animals tends to be higher than conventionally raised pigs. Not the meat I would choose myself.

4. There is nothing wrong with pasture pork. If you would like to eat it, that is fine, but I should have a choice as well, especially at the cost difference of the meat itself.

5. In 2050 there will be 9 billion people in this world. We need to feed them and they need protein. However the majority of those people won't be able to afford the "organic" or "natural" products, so by saying it has to be raised that way are we choosing who gets to have food and who does not?

6. Pigs are not forced to be raised outside, but feed and water to those pigs has to be outside due to the type of barns that economically need to be used. Pigs can lay inside all day if they want, but they have to eat and drink so they will have to go outside.

7. The reason more people do not raise pigs that way is because it is not economical. Sows (mother pigs) can not raise as many babies outside, the pigs grow slower, get sicker and thus it costs more to raise a pound of pork. So that cost is pushed to the consumer. Yes you are paying more for the product but the farmer is not making more $. They might make more $ per pig they produce but it also costs more so it's a wash.

8. Land Another reason that it is so expensive is that it takes a lot of land to raise pigs that way and more people. So yeah to the people who don't understand pig production it may seem like a better way for the farmer, but honestly it's not.

I highly recommend anyone that has these thoughts to talk to a hog farmer rather than put their thoughts in comments of a blog. Go visit a pig farm. My guess is you will be surprised by the humanity of the farmers and how much they care about the pigs, despite what Chipotle will tell you.

There's a lot here

Much of what you've written is either a matter of opinion or anecdotal. rather than based on verifiable factual information. Therefore, I'm going to go point by point with my reactions:

1) Flavor is a matter of opinion. You say you've done research on meat quality. If there are actual peer-reviewed studies to bolster your claim you need to provide it, otherwise your claim remains your opinion.

2) On the subject of antibiotics, you say" the majority of antibitiotics that are given to pigs are not given to humans, so there is not an interaction or potential for resistance" and "Any 'antibiotic residue' is not going to show up in meat anyway, again research shows this". Both of these are claims of fact and require supporting citations.

3) Like point two this point contains claims of fact which requires supporting citations.

4) The cost difference is certainly a known factor. The rest is opinion.

5) I don't believe anyone in this thread is saying that "it has to be raised that way" (organic or natural). Rather, they are saying that Chipotle has every right to choose what requirements they wish to impose on the suppliers of the meat THEY buy.

6) I don't really understand what point you are making hear. Perhaps you'd like to re-write it to be clearer.

7) It's probably true that it costs more to raise pigs "that way" (outdoors). However, the claim that pigs raised outdoors get sicker requires verification, and I suspect the Frenches may have a different perspective on that opinion. (I'm looking forward to seeing their additional contributions to this discussion.)

8) Again, yes, it probably costs more due to land costs. Doesn't make it right or wrong. That's just the way it is.

As for talking to a farmer - that's why I'm hoping Andrew and Khaiti French will post further. Heck - maybe they could write a "Community Voices" column. It would be refreshing to get another perspective in addition to that of Ms. Patsche.

Reply

Andrew and Pat, I will try to reply simultaneously, and also please use google scholar or reference Journal of Animal Science and Livestock science as this is where most of the peer reviewed research will reside. Also, some of my opinions come from experiences raising pigs in both environments. We raised pasture pork even up until a few years ago. So my experience and research (through my doctoral program) have driven my opinions which. Most of this is a rehash of my learnings over the years. It's a blog, not a dissertation.

1. Google scholar: Effects of breeed nutrition and environment on pork quality. My research is not published yet, but should be soon. Over a ten year study there are easily breed differences in pork quality. Very ranging actually. The pasture pork industry has done a good job of using the higher quality lines. More so than the conventional producers. This is mostly because the higher quality lines generally are poorer performers thus costing more money to raise. Most pasture pork use a purebreeding system or rotational crossbreeding system lowering performance. They have to charge more $ to you to make enough to continue working. Again Andrew, the taste difference is based on the breed of the pig, not the environment. You can argue that all you want, but it's been proven.

2. The antibiotic issue I have seen presented by the FDA (I know conspiracy theory for big ag) multiple times. I do not have a link to it I'm sorry. But you surely can find it somewhere. Also, a MRL (maximum residue limit) is required on all antibiotics. These are miniscule amounts set in place by the food industry around the world. Needless to say if there were antibiotic residue in our meat we wouldn't be able to use that antibiotic anymore.

3. I'm dogged for not using citations, but you both use your own opinion. Outdoor pigs get sick too (this is from experience) based on rodent transfer of disease to changes in environment etc. It happens. All animals can get sick whether in or out doors. But not treating them just seems foolish and more inhumane than keeping them inside and healthy.

4. Yes everyone has the right to eat what they want, and that is fine. I am not forcing you to eat conventional produced pork and you should not try to force me to eat "organic". That's fine. The cost difference is there because it costs more to produce not because it is better for you. Again lots of research here, but you can find it yourself. If all farmers had to do organic or natural or outdoor the price of even those products would sky rocket and people simply would not be able to afford meat. That is the goal of HSUS which Wayne Pacelle has publicly stated before.

5. I'm just defending that both ways are adequate to raise food, but conventional will do a better job producing more. Andrew, I applaud you for doing it that way, unfortunately that is not sustainable world wide. The way we produce food is going to be highly variable, but conventional will not go away. Another issue is finding enough people that want to produce the amount of food it will take to feed the world. We have to be able to feed more people with fewer resources (land, water, etc.) That will require technology. There's a reason that we have changed in the past. Is it more economical? Yes, but it is also producing a better, safer product and more of it.

6. Sorry, I'll explain. If you give a pig an option to the outdoors it will feel that environment. Imagine this. It's -20 outside, or even 10 above 0, and you have the furnace set at a toasty 70 degrees. Open a door, or even a small window and leave it open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm sure you would not want to pay for that heating bill, and it will still get really cold.

Now just imagine since you can't afford to run your furnace and heat mother nature with the window open you just turn off your heat and use blankets with the door open. That is what it is like. Yeah it's better than being out in the cold, but wouldn't you rather shut the window and turn on the furnace? I'm sure you would be much more comfortable, much as the pig would.

7/8. Sorry Andrew, but that is not sustainable for 9 billion people. It's just not. Good luck with your work, I'm sure it will be profitable in your area. RIght now in the world there is less land to raise food, period. And it will be less. If it takes more land and more resources to raise the "natural" then it will eventually cost more. If the whole world went organic there would simply not be enough food for all. That is unfortunate.

Hope I explained myself well enough.

Out of curiosity

Doesn't the system you depict become LESS able to weather the storms of "less" of everything? As I recall, there was a price spike in pork last summer as the feed reserves were impacted by drought. Were pork producers smaller and more self sufficient this effect would be regional, but as the size of operations increase they lose the ability to fully self produce what is needed (if they even did in the first place) and things like droughts in the west become national, even international crises. Wouldn't more numerous, smaller hog raising operations provide greater flexibility for producers in the face of what could be ever more numerous problems with the feed and water supplies they depend on?

Thank you for your comment.

Thank you for your comment. The main reason the price of pork spiked last summer was because of a virus that spread across the U.S. - PEDV. This virus was native to the U.S. and with no vaccine for it, the toll was taken on the swine herd. There certainly is room for more smaller pig farmers and I have no issue with that. Let the consumer demand dictate that market. But I don't think you really have a grasp on the agricultural economy. Because our end product is an affordable food source, our whole focus is raising the most healthy, stress-free animal possible with the resources, genetics and expertise available. And each farmer makes his own decision based on these factors. We are actually considered a small farmer and we feed the corn we grow. Others are bigger and will make other resource decisions. If creating smaller farms is a viable option, I am sure that option will be considered.

Your perception

I would like to address your points one by one - most if not all of what you are saying I disagree with and I can provide real world examples of each of my points, whereas you have simply stated what you consider fact but is merely your opinion, perhaps not even backed up by any facts whatsoever.

1. There is a huge flavor difference between confinement raised pork and pigs raised on pasture. Huge. You simply have to do a blind taste test with any number of customers or chefs to come to that conclusion. My butcher will attest to that as well. The meat quality and fat content, marbling of fat within the muscle, type of fat (rich in omega 3 fatty acids), how the animal is slaughtered and prepared - all these factors in pastured pork lead up to a far superior animal, and thus amazing pork products. Obviously if you are entrenched in the confinement raised pork industry you won't support this even with plenty of facts and figures available.

2. Antibiotic use - I feel that you just simply made up your position. Please educate me further if I am mistaken - as far as I know, confinement raised pigs have to be kept on a steady diet of antibiotics in order to keep them from falling prey to the overall crowded unhealthy situation they are in - the steady use of antibiotics is because they are packed so tight together they have have no ability to develop any type of immune response. Chemical are also used to kill off worms and other intestinal parasites which inhibit health and thus muscle growth. Well-raised pastured pigs can develop a healthy immune response by rooting in the soil, in which lay the origin of our modern synthetic antibiotics, the soil bacteria and fungi.Being exposed to small amounts of pathogens over time leads to a healthy creature, be it human or animal.

3. Pastured raised animals are far healthier then pigs packed in a shed - see above.

4. Everybody has the right to eat what they consider ethical, healthy, and economic.

5. I can cite studies that show that the hunger currently existing in this world isn't a real problem of not producing enough food, it is a political problem in which food is not being distributed to the right people. This argument is simply Big Business PR created to defend the moats and walls of their monolithic castles of profit. Organic agriculture can certainly feed the world, the real question is can chemical agriculture continue forever in the face of the shortage or higher cost of chemicals and the limited supply of cheap petroleum. Not to mention the evolving education of the consumer. No, the chemical farmer and confinement farmer's Hay Day is slowly coming to a close, and older more regenerative systems of agriculture will be reasserting dominance in a world that is buffeted by climate change and petroleum shortages. This is a good thing though, and that is why I am working with brilliant people and learning from the older farm practices in order to continue to farm and feed my community.

6. I'm not sure what you are trying to say here.

7 & 8. Land and economic issues - What we see right now is most arable land is in corn and soy. What regenerative farmers see is that this is not wise use of land for either ecologic or economic reasons. We need to be moving forward into the future wherein perennial crops assist our farming endeavors, especially with our animals. Dairy farmers already know the high value of focusing scientific and analytic knowledge and practice on their grass lands. Hay and forage is a huge business these days and it will only become and more important as the climate changes and seasons become erratic and unpredictable. They already are - The perennial crops have huge benefits on the soil ( which is our only real natural capital when it comes to our food production systems) and on our animals. They are healthier and happier on pasture. This translates to a better product that the consumer understands and wants, for flavor, health, and ethical reasons. My thoughts culminate here with the concept that our food should not be cheap, cheaper then almost any other thing we consume with regularity. Food should adequately represent the cost of production and the need for the farmer to make a living. Cheap food only hurts the animals, the land, the consumer, the environment, the farmer, and ultimately benefits nothing and no one at all.

Unfortunately, I think you

Unfortunately, I think you fail to see the problem. The real issue with Chipotle is a marketing scheme where they want consumers to fear their food. They want consumers to think pig farmers abuse their animals. They want consumers to think we "pump them full of antibiotics." They want consumers to think they are raised in "factory farms." All of which are untrue. And it looks like Chipotle has accomplished their goal with you.

I farm on a small scale

I farm on a small scale because of my own ethical, economic, and ecological principles that make a lot of sense to me - principles that led me from cooking food for a living to growing food for a living, in order to provide the best possible food from the land that I can. Chipotle had no influence in that. I did not inherit a farm. I have no vested interest in anything. I simply farm for the love of plants, animals, the soil, independence and the joy of living this life with my wife and providing the best food on the planet to our customers

Chipotle

It looks to me like you're projecting your own bias onto Chipotle. They don't want people to fear their food, but rather want to present an alternative to the buying public. That's their brand. You may not like or appreciate their marketing strategy or their food, but that's a personal choice on your part.

If you like factory farmed product, then by all means eat away! But if someone else wants a different product, then it's not your place to tell them what they can and cannot eat.

All of which are untrue? Please....

The fact is that there ARE farms out there that mistreat their animals, as numerous video and first hand accounts have proven, and the widespread use of antibiotics and growth hormones IS a health issue that many of us have concerns over. It seems that you're desperate to paint Chipotle as the bad guy here.
As many of us have already stated, we like farms and farmers, and we certainly couldn't function as a society without the bounty that they provide, but there's always room for scrutiny and progress.
Finally, as a long time account manager for national chains, I can assure you that a marketing campaign based on fear is a non-starter. It works as a political ideology as proven by what the GOP has morphed into, but a ridiculous concept for retail that no reputable marketing firm would ever pitch an account on.

All of which are

I would love to see your sources for "widespread use of antibiotics and growth hormones." It is illegal to give any hormones to swine or poultry. It's not done. And when you talk about not using fear as a marketing tactic, please tell me if this video isn't about fear. From a farmer's perspective, all I see is "fear your food" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

My two cents

I grew up on a small midwest family farm that derived its income from row crops, beef cows, and pasture-farrowed hogs (2,000 pigs a year in A-frame huts). Because the farm was too small to support multiple generations I went to college to become a veterinarian. After graduation I moved back to my home area to join a mixed-animal practice. I’ve seen the animal welfare issue from both sides, and I’ve worked with numerous swine clients who raise hogs under a wide variety of conditions. I’m 60 years old and have been a farm vet for 34 of those years.
I grew up on home-butchered pork that never set a food on concrete. The pork I purchased at the local grocery store as an adult was almost certainly raised in confinement. It all tasted fine to me.
Feed-grade antibiotics are labeled to be used only for short periods of time and only for certain weight-ranges of growing pigs. There are new rules currently in development at the federal level that will require a legal prescription for every single use of feed-grade antibiotics within the US. Feed-grade antibiotics add significant expense. Viable operations use them sparingly. New federal regulations coming into effect by 2016 will reduce selective antibiotic use even further.
Parasites were always an issue in the old days of dirt-raised hogs. I necropsied many swine that died or whose growth was stunted by roundworms, nodular worms, whipworms, and others. It is much easier to keep swine free of parasites when they are raised in confinement where the pens can be pressure-washed and cleaned between groups.
I’ve not seen a long-term, viable hog operation where pigs were “packed in a shed”. Over the decades I’ve seen a handful of persons with limited knowledge of livestock put small feeder pigs into a barn stall, with no way to expand the living space as the hogs grew larger. Those animals literally ended up packed together. But the situation in no way represented a conventional swine operation. In every instance the owner either changed his ways or never tried it again.
Dirt-raised hogs on any sort of scale is labor-intensive and can incur significant expense. Farmland is expensive now to use for hog lots, not to mention the high cost of fencing. Plus running multiple water lines over the farm (trenched in deep, below the frost line). Plus constantly bedding sleeper sheds with straw that was labor-intensive to put up (which requires planting wheat or oats, which there may not be local market for). Plus constant predation by coyotes who can steal away baby pigs. And other things I won’t go into. I grew up with this. I accepted this as a way of life at the time but I would never ask my son to do it as an occupation. Not when you can raise pigs in a climate-controlled building. Keep everything properly maintained and adhere to industry-wide space requirements to keep individual animals comfortable.

Thank you Chad!

Thank you Chad!

In response to your

In response to your statement: " There is not a difference in flavor between an outdoor raised pig and a conventional raised pig that is the same genetics and nutrition program . . ."

If by "nutrition program" you mean what the pigs eat, pasture/forest raised pigs are going to have a different nutrition program. They will be foraging foods that would never be provided in indoor environments. If you feed an animal different it can affect the flavor of its meat. What the animal eats *does* impact flavor.

In response to your

In response to your statement: " There is not a difference in flavor between an outdoor raised pig and a conventional raised pig that is the same genetics and nutrition program . . ."

If by "nutrition program" you mean what the pigs eat, pasture/forest raised pigs are going to have a different nutrition program. They will be foraging foods that would never be provided in indoor environments. If you feed an animal different it can affect the flavor of its meat. What the animal eats *does* impact flavor.

Do the....

Chinese treat their animals more humanely? Some of our pork does come from there.

Don't know about "humane", but...

We are exporting pork to China:
http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/03/china-factory-farm-america-pork

China produces A LOT MORE PORK than the U.S., and Chinese consumers EAT a lot more:
http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/tail-curling-facts-chinese-pork/

The Chinese, whose pork production has doubled in the last 20 years or so, are adopting U.S. pork production practices, and what better way than to BUY an American company ?
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/food/2013/06/shuanghui_s...

Misleading

Chipotle doesn't say there is a pork shortage. They say THEY have a pork shortage because of a problem in their supply chain. If they have a set number of suppliers and one of those suppliers is no longer available, they are out for a while. You may take issue with their criteria for a supplier and maybe you think they could be back on the menu faster than they will in the end, but that's their business decision to make.

"Chipotle wants consumers to fear their food" really?

Wanda, I am speaking as a person who worked in marketing and advertising for about 25 years. I've since transitioned to a new career, but things haven't changed that much since my time. Your assertion that Chipotle wants consumers to fear their food strikes me as utter nonsense. You don't find many marketers successfully managing campaigns that are based on fear, especially if its premise is untrue, as you claim. I think its much more likely that Chipotle is responding to a genuine consumer trend of purchasers being more and more aware of what goes on in the "production" stage of the food they consume and wanting to make purchase decisions based on the whole picture. For many of these consumers, if they eat meat, they want the animals to be humanely treated. If they eat vegetables and fruits, they want the food to be organic, and/or local. If they buy new clothing, they want to avoid sweatshop labor. Not everyone follows all of those tenets - each person has to decide where the line is for them - but in my experience a growing number do. Witness the booming business that most of our food co-ops are enjoying. The incredible growth of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) purchases. I think that Chipotle is seeking to align themselves with this audience and to solidify their loyalty. Brand loyalty by one's core audience is worth its weight in gold to marketers, even if it alienates others. It is no more complicated than that and does not merit your depiction of some sort of nefarious plot. In fact, actually I would guess that you are doing them a big favor. The more you holler about this, the more you are helping them solidify the loyalty of the customers that they truly want. I don't know Chipotle well enough to know if they have other problems in their supply chain that would merit scrutiny - anyone that sells as much food as they do probably deserves additional scrutiny in this area. But for now, they are defining themselves more sharply as the heroic purveyors of ethically raised food in contrast to you and other conventional farmers. Perhaps you'll get a thank you note from their CEO one of these days.

I am just going to address

I am just going to address the marketing fear portion. I would like to know if you feel this video isn't about fearing your food. From a farmer perspective, this is all about fear and taking advantage of the disconnect consumers have from agriculture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

An Emotional response to food

brings along its own set of issues.

Readers arguing about taste without specifying their favorite breed for eating makes a subjective measurement even more inscrutable.

Maybe the best tasting confinement animal is actually better than the worst tasting "free range" animal.

Or maybe the circumstances surrounding the slaughter of each of those animals is the most important factor. Did those last days and hours before slaughter induce stress and tension in the animal just before it was killed?

Would you rather eat a nice pork chop amidst a raging argument at the dinner table or while sitting peacefully with loved ones praising some deity for the food prepared "for us"?

Why not stipulate that some people ARE actually superior because they are fussier about what they eat?

Personally, I think more Americans are "spoiled rotten" when it comes to an actual appreciation of the vast range of nutritional options at an affordable price. I think it is simply a desire to be "better" than other people that underpins this emotional debate.

Let's fix our decaying attitude toward food in general and see what problems remain. Let's assume each farmer is doing the best they can working with the theory and resources they have.

I raise pastured pigs.

I farm full time. I raise pigs outside. Claiming pigs would rather be in CAFO is ridiculous.

Pigs need a shelter, but even with that they will often decide to sleep outdoors on a hay pile even in subzero weather. Pigs are simply not bothered by cold the way people believe they are. Heat is a far greater stress, and again, pastured scenarios win out there when we can provide natural tree shade.

As far as them being happier - they absolutely are. Pigs in a natural setting will run, jump, play, graze, root, and exhibit a host of other natural behaviors. Pigs in a confinement chew each others tails and ears off because they are denied these behaviors.

On the subject of quality there is no comparison - meat from a pastured animal looks and tastes different.

This all relies of course on the animals being on pasture and in woodlots. A pig raised on a mudlot isn't much better than a CAFO.

The pastured pork group I run had a robust debate about this - my take is that they are having a very positive impact on how people view food. If they only served 10% from ethical meat production, the change would still be huge. They are making real changes to their menu to be more in line with the ethics they market - that's awesome. In the long run, it's up to ethical meat farmers to get organized enough to be able to provide people like Chipotle the product they need. I think people forget sometimes how tiny a fraction of producers are trying to create the systems that are needed to do this. In the long run - CAFO's can't feed the world, and neither can monocropped grains. Those are only possible because of a chance happening of extremely lax environmental standards, cheap oil, and an ignorant public. As those things change and people realize how much damage those systems do, farms like mine and others need to be ready to show people what truly productive, profitable, and regenerative systems look like.

Maude, with an 'e'...

Maybe some day soon we can ask the Pig what life, however temporary, he/she prefers...as scientific studies validate the pig is a most intelligent animal.

Case in point
Not much farm experience here, but my farmer/ carpenter Grandfather often told the story of Maude his pet pig who, when on a sunny, summer Sunday morning had a most heroic role to play in the birth of Grampa's new sister.

Very pregnant mom resting at home told Maude resting beside her - an indoor pig I assume - "The baby's coming! Go fetch the family from church!"

And away Maude did run down the gravel road, past the corn field and ran up the church steps squealing her message; racing down the aisle startling the minister and congregation.

Guess what the baby girl was called as her blessed nick name...yup, Maude she was called more often than her real name, Berta.

I never asked, never cared to know... did they ever butcher Maude; the pig that is.

Pig out, again?

On a more serious sidebar:

"Iowa-based Company is looking at the possibility of permitting. expanding its first large scale farm investments Reicks View Farms along Lake Superior."

If they can't sell the water they'll pollute all for the sake of the market place? Who are the hog-selfies here, picturing their own profit with no concern for the land, the water; the very air we breathe...who are the 'hogs' in this scenario?

Bottom line

What I take away from this is that I can feel comfortable ordering pork at Chipotle. At least they're trying. So many who raise livestock only see them as walking meat, and I don't want a plate of misery for dinner.

trying

If you like big business telling you what is better for you then go right ahead. I and the author of the article prefer to go with people who live and work where the pork is raised and eat their own pork too. Not some big city food snob with an agenda. I refuse to let big business tell me what is right for me or anyone else. They simply do not have any facts behind their cause.

Stood On Both Sides Of The Fence

Being unaware of the exact violations makes it difficult to understand some of the housing issues that Chipotle may have had to suspend one of their suppliers so passing judgment for or against and praising them for their fear marketing techniques is somewhat disappointing. Though, I can tell you the experiences of raising pigs in both environments, outdoors with some provided shelter and deep bedding as well as raising pigs in barns where we can manage the exact temperature. I was raised and my parents to this day still raise pigs outdoors with covered shelters and deep bedding during the winter months. During the cold the challenges were tough; mud, freezing cold, frozen waters, frostbite ears and sickness(animals not eating) were all prevalent. If a sow(momma pig) went into labor unexpectedly early, saving any piglets would be a total loss. Today I raise pigs indoors where we can manage the temperature to a comfortable 65-68 degrees (3-8 degrees warmer than my own house!), provide fresh clean food and water and protect our animals from some of those extremely cold winter days. In 2014 we had a number days consecutively below zero culminating at a chill of -50. Pigs can’t put on a winter coat like I can to keep warm and temperatures that cold can be fatal for animals. Our animals are calm, well fed and happy as a cucumber to see me every morning because just like my dad, our animals always come before our own needs. As farmers just as consumers we have the luxury of choice and neither my father or I or wrong in the way we raise and grow our pigs today. If there are real questions about where your food comes from, ask a farmer not a company trying to sell you a burrito.

most of these are emotional arguments...

as much as I enjoy the French's comments, they are very emotionally driven.

Conventionally bred vs pasture. There isn't a difference among breeds. If I raise hamps outside or inside they are going to test the same. We learned this with cattle. The taste test generally involves the age of the animal and breed vs how they were raised. Commercial pork is generally York crosses of some sort. The driver for commercial farms is the dollar menu at McDonald's. Let's be real. If you really live this life, you know what it costs to raise a pig from birth to slaughter. Does the average walmart shopper have the means to pay your retail price?

A pig from a pasture based operation is going to take longer to finish. How do I know? I've done both. So all this talk about "climate change" is irrelevant in this conversation. From birth to plate, pasture pork takes longer negating any advantage they may have had.

Some links with citations based in science:
http://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/536-premium-high-end-pork

Even top heritage producers admit it's based on breed:
http://heritagefoodsusa.com/blog/heritage-breed-tasting-chart/

As for the rest- the veterinarian above touched on it and how antibiotics are limited in pork production.

I question some of the alleged pig farmers here. I've been around pigs most of my life. They aren't these passive, snuggly creatures you think they are. I have the scars to prove it.

Food snobbery

The fact of the matter is that there is room for improvement for commercial animal production, whether it's the "conventional" or the "organic" versions. Another fact is that there is room, at least for the consumer, for both. Whether or not there will remain actual physical room for both--or either--in the future is a whole 'nother debate.

No, there really isn't a pork shortage. Chipotle chooses who it purchases its pork from, and THAT'S OK. That being said, if there WAS a pork shortage, Ms. Patsche probably wouldn't have a beef (ha!) with it, as she would be getting a better price for her hogs.

I do agree that Chipotle's message is part snobbery, and part fear tactics. I eat Chipotle because I like it (I think those green bits in the rice are marijuana, not cilantro--I hate cilantro, but I LOVE their rice...or maybe it's the massive amounts of butter...I digress...). But, I don't particularly care for some of their advertising because it DOES spark a fear that is unnecessary.

However, they're not the only ones. We are surrounded by messages about our food that are confusing. Some are part true, some are part false, some are all false. And many of the "right to know" group really just want to control how we all eat. It's really not all that difficult to know what's in your food. That is, if it's not fresh, it's probably processed. And if it's not marked as "organic," it's probably not organic or GMO-free. But somehow, people are convinced that they're incapable of engaging a thought process when purchasing foods.

Do I buy that "conventionally" raised pork is superior over pasture raised pork? Except for the efficiency, no. It's not. All the inputs that raise the price of pasture raised pork are a financial decision on the farmer's part, and will be recouped at the other end. At least enough to be viable--or they'll go out of business. We should be able to GREATLY reduce our antibiotic use in meat animals AND human medicine. Even antibiotics that aren't used in humans DO increase the incidence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics used in humans. Further, enough "conventional" setups are NOT humane that it is worth pressuring ALL of them to become better. In fact, it would be better if more commercial food establishments or manufacturers were picky about the quality of the food chain so that those who do right by the animals are the only ones that thrive.

Do I buy that pasture raised pork is superior over conventionally raised pork? Nope. It's inefficient and unsustainable in light of population growth and the need to be more efficient with land use. Basically, there will come a time when all remaining land will be needed to produce plants or algae because animals are an inefficient source of protein. Meat is a luxury. Pasture raised meat is even more of a luxury. There are certain efficiencies that can be gained over standard pasture raising (for example, it turns out that cattle raised on land that is a mixture of grassy pasture and trees gain more, faster than plain grassy pasture). But, it's really not the most environmentally friendly way to get protein. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going vegan any time soon, or even vegetarian, but I'm not going to claim that any version of the meat I eat is good for the planet. It's not, even if every scrap of the animal is used in some way. Eating pasture raised animals is simply a warm, fuzzy feeling, not a morally superior way to eat protein.

Is there a flavor difference? Maybe. It very well could be true that animals raised in a pasture taste different to sensitive consumers. Better? Pure opinion. It might also be that there is a difference in the breeds used in each husbandry technique. In fact, it's pretty likely that a farmer will select a different breed of animal to do better in different conditions. It's smart. You won't find small, fuzzy, horned cows in "conventional" feed lots because they don't do well and are very inefficient in such setups. But you will find them in free range farms because they're hardy, and they're a novelty for consumers. Plus, they're cute, which really isn't a factor considered in large commercial setups, but actually is a factor in farms that value heirloom varieties. Breed type could easily explain the difference in flavor, if any.

Anyway, my point is that I don't understand why Ms. Patsche feels it necessary to rail against Chipotle's choice to limit their pork offerings rather than compromise their standards. Sticking to standards should result in farms that look more like hers than the horror films that PETA likes to put out.

Ms. Patsche

"Anyway, my point is that I don't understand why Ms. Patsche feels it necessary to rail against Chipotle's choice to limit their pork offerings rather than compromise their standards. Sticking to standards should result in farms that look more like hers than the horror films that PETA likes to put out."

She does it because Chipotle has chosen to rail against the majority of farmers and tell people what to eat with no facts to back it up while Ms. Patsche has facts and vets to back up why she raises pork the way she does. Chipotle is outright lying to consumers and she is right to point that out.

I disagree

Neither Ms. Patsche nor Chipotle have cornered the market on the truth. Neither is guilty of being completely factual.

Chipotle directs its marketing to a very specific consumer who can afford to buy a premium product, whether actually superior or not. Ms. Patsche and others should worry more about farmers who don't even get to the standards she meets, rather than a group of people who want warm fuzzies when they eat. PETA's horror films and the producers that they portray are a far bigger threat than Chipotle's "we like meat but we want it our way" crowd. And throwing half truths out there to support her supposedly superior production methods does nothing but support the demonization of perfectly proper meat production. I think that, while there is definitely a shift toward food snobbery, the population concerned with actually paying more for such luxuries is much smaller than the population purchasing conventionally raised meat at the store. That larger population doesn't give two rips about how happy the pig was, but they are susceptible to a message that shows true suffering. Go ahead and show clean pens that prove that living conditions aren't horrible, but don't meet Chipotle on moral grounds--right or wrong, it's a losing battle.

Old 'pork flavors' and then some....

As a naive listener here I do like the sound of the Titus comments...beyond that I would say My father was a butcher for some 40 years at a time when he rode out into the field and bought his meat on-the-hoof from individual farmers he trusted; big ones, smaller ones...none big commercial types .

Don't even know if such a massive marketplace largesse even existed in North Dakota in the 40's. As a child I occasionally went along on "looking for cattle" but never in the killing but sitting in a farm kitchen - sometimes small farming establishment where 'sustainable' probably was a word that would suggest 'survival' as its definition not too long after the Depression years I suppose.

Father had an IQ of 152 and he used it well with people and animals with a respect for both. I remember a farm wife who sat me down in her kitchen with oat meal cookies and milk and assured we "Charley will never let Bessie suffer."..he killed them in the field in those days and no, I never witnessed the process...

However the "abbatoir" was a new addition to the business when regulations came along and the town coroner was the meat inspector; a fine man who spent some time in political dialogue also as a certain friendship, respect functioned between the two.

Maybe this is irrelevant here but...at a time of profit over food supply one does wonder what we have gained in our attitudes toward whatever creatures we choose to eat.

Footnote; Dad interviewed in the fifties did comment negatively to the growing use of chemicals to tenderize beef and did rue the day for future human cancers being the possibility; ruining the meat; to inject tenderness in the product.
Was it Kroger out of Ohio then, who was one of the first to jump on that bandwagon...so it goes?

Limited knowledge here on pork flavor etc... other than enjoying my aunt's canned pork, fried in a skillet that had a flavor I could never duplicate...good pork indeed although my father often said of my aunt's spouse..."Uncle Fred was a fine man but called himself a gentleman farmer" but dad said he was more gentleman than farmer and his string ball of ideas would harm no one as long as he didn't ever run for public office...that's all out of context here but one point of view beyond the objective, yes...

Farm Raised

I have to wonder when people say there is or is not a change in flavor of meat based on how it was raised and what it ate. I've tried both pasture and grain feed beef and you can tell the difference just be looking at the two. Grain fed has a lot more marbling from fat, whereas pasture fed is much more lean.

Wine drinkers who have a refined pallet say they can taste the difference in a good bottle and tell you what part of the vineyard the grapes came from. If it makes that much of a difference in a pinot noir, I have to image it would have the same effect on animals as it does the plants they eat.

A couple of years ago I was short on bacon for a recipe and had to run out to Cub Foods quickly and grab whatever was on the shelf. Usually I get the good bacon from Whole Foods, but a dinner party was looming and I had to hustle it. Throwing the Cub product into the frying pan I found it was injected with so much water that it wouldn't fry at all, but instead boiled.

Now I realize that this is technically part of the butchering process rather than the farming process, but it's indicative of the supply chain that's prevalent in America today. A little food for thought, as it were.

I ended up throwing out the balance of the Cub bacon by the way. It didn't taste good.

taste

First of all, marbling in meat equals more flavor. That's why Kobe beef tastes better and is more tender than most according to those who have eaten it. Second, you story about bacon has a huge hole in it. Most if not all grocery stores (cub included) have a whole/natural foods section where you can buy those products(bacon would be one). To claim you did not have time to get what you normally get doesn't seem to tell the whole story since what you normally buy would have been just as fast to get since it is in the same store. I've had bacon I don't like either (Oscar mayer) but that doesn't mean confinement raising of hogs is terrible. Cheap bacon generally doesn't taste as good in my opinion but my mother in law buys it all the time and I eat it without complaint.

Food, Inc.

More thoughts on what tastes good.

A few years ago I watched a documentary on food production (I forget the name) and they interviewed a farmer and his family who raises hogs both barn style and shed raised. Historically they were conventional farmers with mass production systems, but they were trying to break into the organic market with some neighbors as a side business.

During the interview they groused about how labor intensive and expensive it was to raise hogs organically with access to the outdoors. Costs were much higher, labor was higher, they were waiting on certification, and they weren't sure what the market was going to do once the hogs were ready for shipment.

They have a community meat locker with their neighbors where anyone can go and pull out what they want for their family. At the end the interviewer asked them which meat they pulled out and put on the table at night.

They replied without hesitation "organic. It tastes better."

Chipotle

There are a lot of comments here to respond to so I'll do my best. First, to those on here who constantly request citations and proof from posters, you should be asking chipotle for scientific citations and proof why pork raised with access to outdoors is better. The reason they haven't provided this is because there is none. If it is their belief, fine, but there are no facts to back that up. Farmers have evolved as time has gone on and have found what works best. That is your proof right there. The fact that the majority of farmers raise pork in confinement barns is your proof that it is more sustainable, profitable, and a better more humane way to raise pork. It is fine that people want to raise it in different ways (pasture, etc.) because there are people that prefer that but there is zero scientific evidence that there is a better way than confinement barns. The majority of consumers have decided they prefer lower cost lean pork of today vs. what was raised 30+ years ago(mostly with access to outside or pasture). Taste is subjective and consumers for the most part prefer todays pork. There is room for others as well but it costs more, is not as sustainable for farmers, and is harder to do but there are some consumers who like it and that is fine. Just like grass raised beef, some people prefer it but most do not like the strong flavor.
For the people who call manure toxic waste, you are uneducated to crop and livestock farming and need to realize it is fertilizer for crops and only toxic if misused. Proper use is actually more profitable (which most farmers know already) and non-toxic. Pastures can be large sources of pollution as well so they are not always the best either. Wallowing and rooting of hogs would create more pollution than you can imagine. Runoff and polluted ground water would occur from doing this as well as an increased cost of pork due to lower production levels and a higher cost to produce with a higher mortality rate (there is scientific proof to prove this).
Those that are vilifying the author of the article should be ashamed of themselves. The author is merely pointing out how a large corporation (chipotle backed likely by HSUS) is vilifying farmers large and small everywhere by making these demands and sending out public statements as they have done. These farmers are the backbone of our society and qualify as small and self made businessmen who uphold the highest ethics which chipotle is not. Chipotle is being a greedy unethical organization by vilifying farmers and needs to be called out. Chipotle has no scientific proof to back up their claims and does not raise pork nor do they have any expertise in raising pork so they should not be telling consumers how to raise pork or what type to like and eat. They author of the article has rightfully pointed this out. As stated before people may have their preferences but the majority of consumers preferred what is raised today and this is why the pork industry raises pork the way it does today rather than what used to be raised. Everyone has a right to what they prefer to eat but don't tell me you know pasture raised or pork raised with access is better with zero facts to back it up because it is an outright lie to americans everywhere.

Chipotle is a business

Chipotle is a business. Farms are businesses. Both are in the business to make money. It's unlikely that most farmers are any more ethical than Chipotle and vice versa. I'm not sure that there's much "scientific proof" that Chipotle is a "greedy unethical organization" any more than farmers who conventionally raise pigs are. Both are guilty of some fuzzy "science" from what I can tell from the two pieces Ms. Pasche has written here and what I've seen from Chipotle's marketing. I'm not coming at this from the standpoint of a layperson, either. I have a BS in Microbiology, having started out as a pre-vet/animal science major in undergrad, with a minor in Chemistry, and a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology with a secondary focus on Immunology. I'm not buying the purity of either food production method, and I believe both sides are guilty of some factual whoppers in this "fight."

business

The difference would be that farmers that use conventional ways to raise pigs aren't telling you what is good or right for you and Chipotle is. Thus the purpose of the article. Chipotle is a much larger business that is using tactics to try to create an emotional response from consumers to force them to think like they do and vilify farmers that use conventional methods as being inhumane and wrong when there is nothing to back it up.

Factory pork

Certainly Chipotle should be commended for raising awareness of this issue. But a bigger issue to me is GMO crops and glyphosate residue. These poor factory pigs have glyphosate in every bite and it ends up inside my body when I eat them. Glyphosate is everywhere, including wheat, beans and obviously GMO corn, soy, and beet sugar. I for one would like to see them use organic or at least GMO/glyphosate-free products in their restaurant. I attended a seminar on raising pigs presented by the Rodale Institute. Apparently they were approached by Applegate Farms to help them source organic pork. Applegate is buying organic pork from Denmark because there is not enough here in the US. Rather than raising a commodity product, some of these pig producers might consider a switch to organic. Better for the pigs, better for the consumer and better for the land.

GMO/Glyphosate

I was unaware of this issue until I attended the Acres USA conference and listened to Don Huber, a PhD Plant Scientist. Unfortunately there is glyphosate residue in almost everything the average person eats. Here is a study from Germany showing the glyphosate content of chicken.

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpsa/advpub/0/advpub_0130169/_article

I, for one, don't care to eat it.

pesticide residue

West Central Tribune 1/17/15. The USDA states pesticide residue is not a concern. Also an article in the MN Farm Guide. This is a non-issue.

The Farm Guide?

Oh, well...it's settled then.

settled

It was a USDA report and reported through multiple news sources. I'd have no reason to not believe it. I think it's worth mentioning that the USDA is part of regulating agriculture so it would have no reason to fudge things or try to make them seem like they are not an issue.

Glyphosate residue

According to Don Huber, glyphosate is actually worse than DDT. Looks like history is repeating itself. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on DDT.

In response to an EDF suit, the U.S. District Court of Appeals in 1971 ordered the EPA to begin the de-registration procedure for DDT. After an initial six-month review process, William Ruckelshaus, the Agency's first Administrator rejected an immediate suspension of DDT's registration, citing studies from the EPA's internal staff stating that DDT was not an imminent danger to human health and wildlife.[15] However, the findings of these staff members were criticized, as they were performed mostly by economic entomologists inherited from the United States Department of Agriculture, who many environmentalists felt were biased towards agribusiness and tended to minimize concerns about human health and wildlife. The decision not to ban thus created public controversy.[23]

Do yourself a favor and do a little research outside the tightly controlled zone of Big Ag. Farmers are especially vulnerable because of the large amounts of glyphosate they use.

residue

I'd really appreciate it if you would not continue to post information that is false. The USDA study reported in the West Central Tribune 1/17/15 and a recent issue of the MN Farm Guide contradicts your assertion that pesticide residue is an issue. The USDA study clearly states that pesticide residue is not an issue at all. Wikipedia is information from anyone who may or may not be educated at all and is not a trusted source of information.

Glyphosate residue

How about Walker Texas Ranger? He certainly wouldn't say something false.

http://www.wnd.com/2015/01/chuck-norris-raises-red-flag-over-monsanto/

Chuck

I'm sure he knows a lot (about martial arts) and doesn't seem like a liar but I doubt very much pesticide residues and environmental concerns are his area of expertise. In other words, just because he isn't lying doesn't mean he actually knows anything about it and may in fact be incorrect due to a lack of understanding or knowledge. I believe Mr. Norris is actually a member of an environmentalist organization (Sierra Club I believe). Actual results from the USDA don't lie.

Glyphosate Residue

Unfortunately it appears they didn't test for glyphosate.

http://www.sott.net/article/290653-USDA-Report-Pesticide-residues-on-ove...

assumptions

To assume and assert that levels of that are over acceptable levels without real data is simply inflammatory. To assume that farmers are responsible with other pesticides and not ones that contain glyphosate simply doesn't make sense at all. You're trying to start something when there doesn't seem to be an issue with pesticides.