By Julie Berling
Last week, I shared part one of a two-part guest post which focused on the importance of continuing to ask, “Why?” as a way to get to the facts behind the foods we consume, the products we buy, and the headlines and posts we read. Today, I’m focusing on part two—the “what” and “how” behind real transparency.
what is transparency?
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, transparency is the quality or state of being transparent which means easily seen through, readily understood, free of deceit, and open about information – especially concerning business practices.
how is it achieved?
That’s a bit harder to define and even-more-so to do. I will illustrate with a not-so-distant event in my life: the moment I realized I had raised “city” kids—kids who knew a little about how food gets to our table, but not much. Non-farming folks, please don’t take offense to my comment…rather take it as an apology for missing the fact that others couldn’t know what I lived for 18 years if I don’t share it—not even my own kids.
In my first post I said that, as a food marketer, it’s my job to make you feel good about our products through meaningful conversations about what matters to you. Yet, I can’t assume to know what interests or concerns you, without continually asking, listening and learning. To that end, we recently did a survey on Facebook about our fans’ biggest concerns involving food. The top 3 were: 1) how food was raised/made, 2) where food came from, and 3) food safety. So I’ll start at the top and relate it to chicken.
As I’ve shared previously, I grew up on a dairy farm—so the world of chicken was new to me, too. I was amazed to learn that it takes just 45 days for a chicken to be ready for market. Many people think this comes from the chickens being fed hormones and steroids. But it doesn’t—the federal government does not allow chickens to be given any type of growth hormones. The fast growth is due to the chickens being given a wholesome, nutritious diet; comfortable living conditions; and greater health characteristics through selective breeding—done naturally without genetic modification or engineering. SOURCE: http://gnpcompany.com/files/GNP_Infographic_Combine.pdf
I also learned that our feed mills make all of the feed our chickens eat—using locally grown corn, soy meal and other natural ingredients as well as different recipes to meet the changing nutritional and feeding needs of growing chickens.
Also, our chickens are never caged and are free to roam in climate-controlled barns that are heated in winter and cooled with tunnel ventilation—a sort of super-AC—that keeps barns comfy even on the hottest days.
And Just BARE chickens are raised by independent family farmers—not corporate farms. Every package is traceable back to the very people responsible for the care of our chickens. However, what we share about these family farmers presents a balancing act between satisfying consumers’ want for knowledge and families’ right to privacy. In some cases, we are only able to share the location of the family farm; in others photos and facts. The people who raise our chickens have privacy concerns just like us, so we must respect their wishes as to how much information we share.
Our pursuit of greater transparency is another reason we had all of our hatcheries, barns and facilities responsible for making Just BARE certified by the American Humane Certified® Farm Program in 2010. The annual third-party audits and ongoing reporting required to verify compliance demand transparency about our practices AND our performance against the program’s more than 200 rigorous standards.
A while back, I helped develop a 2-part infographic (http://gnpcompany.com/files/GNP_Infographic_Combine.pdf) for GNP Company™, the “mother hen” of Just BARE®. It shows and tells the whole story of how chicken makes it to your plate. While it doesn’t provide every detailed step, it does show the process, practices and care behind our products—from how chickens are raised to how products are made.
So that’s the story of our chicken. There are many sources of good information about how other foods get from farm to table affordably and safely—and the many hands and hard work it takes. A few resources I’d recommend checking out are:
So, until my next guest post, I’m going to try to figure out how to pelletize meals for my husband—he’s my pickiest eater of all! Up next: food waste.