Just BARE Chicken, Part 2: The Commentary

In a recent post about Just BARE Chicken, I published an email interview I conducted with Julie Berling, Director of Brand Strategy for Gold'n Plump Poultry. I found Ms. Berling's answers to be both measured and thoughtful. It seems to me that Gold'n Plump is doing the a good thing by introducing Just BARE Chicken line of products, from raising the chickens at local farms to allowing customers to track where they come from.

Even the packaging of Just BARE Chickens speaks volumes about the philosophy of the product line and the experience Gold'n Plump is trying to create. But one of Ms. Berling's answers strikes me as particularly worrisome, and I wanted to dig in a bit:just-bare1

Q: How is Just BARE Chicken different from the rest of what Gold’n Plump sells?

A: Just BARE is different in that the chickens are raised with a special feed formulation that doesn't include antibiotics, arsenicals, or animal by-products. Every tray and package features a family farm code that allows each package to be traced back to the family farm where raised. And the chicken is packaged in clear plastic trays that are leak-proof, peel open with ease and recyclable.

Well, THAT'S a relief! Unlike the other chicken that most of us have been eating, Just Bare Chicken is free of arsenicals. Um, awesome. Um, arsenicals? Here's where things get tricky for me to sort out, and I suppose it's because here's one of the places where business and ethics butt heads. Clearly, Gold'n Plump sees a business opportunity around getting better products into the hands of consumers who care. Making these products available at major grocery store chains like Target is a wonderful thing. It means that more people are starting to care about what they feed themselves and their kids, and it means that more simple, good, and tasty MN foods will be accessible and affordable for those who need them. But this is a small percentage of what Gold'n Plump sells, of course. And the chicken lots of us normally eat, if we can infer: INCLUDES antibiotics, arsenicals, or animal by-products. just-bare4

Oh, how different our eating habits might be if the label on a package of chicken read: including antibiotics, arsenicals, or animal by-products! Because, like, isn't arsenic something we'd rather not have in our chicken? I'm really interested in the topic of big companies selling local food. Instinctively, local food feels like it's meant to be raised in small groups, prepared in small batches, and consumed within 100 miles or less. Life is easier when the "good guys" and "bad guys" are obvious.

I'd like to hear from you: when big companies start selling local food, is this a good thing? Does it confuse consumers even more? Should we celebrate the proliferation of sustainable food, especially when it's affordable and accessible? Is this bad for the local farmer? Do we even trust a big company that proclaims their ideals? Please let me know what you think.

You can read all of Part 1 here.

And you can can read all of Part 3 here.

Posted to Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays.