I was not going to write a post about the EZ chicken ad Panera Bread recently released because Dairy Carrie wrote an excellent blog on this very topic. Read her thoughts: http://dairycarrie.com/2013/07/23/dear-panera-bread-company/. Yet, when I came home this evening, that all changed. It changed because my Facebook news feed was blowing up and after reading consumer comments I just got pissed.
Panera Bread has lost another customer. First, I have never found the food to be that impressive. Second the food is too expensive for what it is. In fact, I think spending $10 on a macaroni and cheese lunch is just stupid and that is about the only thing on the menu worth going to Panera for. Third, the organic and all-natural nonsense on the menu has irked my nerves for far too long anyway. Finally, and most importantly, the marketing techniques Panera has chosen to employ sent me over the damned edge. The company is playing into the misinformation about agriculture spread by a variety of sources. Consumers are so far removed from the food supply that they simply do not understand WHERE their food comes from or how it makes its way to their plate. They are only concerned about there plate remaining full. Panera is not as healthy as many consumers seem to think. Check out the nutrition information about their menu items … look especially at calories, fat content, etc.
“Sure, I was raised with antibiotics. It’s just … easier.” What?!?!?! How ignorant do you have to be to buy into this? First, chicken producers use antibiotics RESPONSIBLY to help sick animals just like you as a parent use antibiotics and other medicines to help your children feel better. Antibiotics are not used because it is easy, they are used because they are necessary to prevent illness and potentially a painful, prolonged, slow death. That is reality people. Antibiotics are used when necessary for the health of the animal and all poultry must meet USDA guidelines. (USDA.gov is a great resource.) This next bit is where the rub really lies.
This says to me that poultry producers are lazy. Now I have a few explicative terms I would love to use in response to anyone calling a farmer or rancher lazy but my momma taught me that such words are not for ladies to use, especially when children may read this blog. Instead, I challenge Panera Bread to put their money where their mouth is and go work one week as a poultry producer. One week. All I am asking is for one week of Panera Bread executives getting up to feed birds, check all the watering systems and tubing, check the health of every single bird in a house of thousands, care for any sick birds which also have to be separated from the rest of the flock, check the temperature and humidity of all the houses, weigh birds, keep records of all of this, and then stay into the wee hours of the morning to load birds onto trucks to go on to become part of Panera’s chicken salads. Now call us lazy ya dang Armani-wearing poop head!
At first I thought surely that Panera was not calling animal producers lazy. After all, why would a company spit in the face of the very people upon whom its business depends?! Then I realized, Panera is trying to reach a niche market; meet consumer demands if you will. BS! This is a marketing campaign to advertise a product they think will set them apart in the market. Panera is slandering the poultry industry and all poultry producers who responsibly use antibiotics to help animals over sickness, just like parents give children medicine (including antibiotics) to get over an illness. Saying that there should be no use of antibiotics in animal production is saying that we should let sick animals slowly and painfully deteriorate until they die. Think of that from the perspective of a doctor telling you they won’t prescribe medication for your sick children … then your child dies. Changes things doesn’t it?
The reason this is so personal for many of us is we grew up on farms. We had to drag our butt out of bed at 4 in the morning to check on a cow who was due to calve, we had to milk the dairy cows every morning so you could enjoy milk, butter, and ice cream, we had to spend every day feeding and caring for an animal then put it on the trailer so our family could eat through the winter, we had to make the decision to put down an animal when it was suffering and antibiotics could not save the animal then dry our tears and get back to tending to the other animals. This was our daily routine and it applies to pork, beef, and poultry. There are no such things as weekends or holidays for animal producers. If that is what you call “lazy” you have a very skewed perception and I damn sure will take that over anything else Panera has to offer.
Panera has seen a substantial backlash from the agriculture community following their decision to slander us and they have removed what I would call the worst of their crumby little marketing campaign. However, the damage has been done. Read the consumer comments on their Facebook page. Panera has lost another customer and, despite an apology to anyone they may have “offended” with their EZ chicken marketing, I will not be a return customer. I don’t eat at Chipotle for the same reasons … mainly terrible food and their full of crap (that is organic by the way) ideologies.
Call this my soap box rant if you wish, you have the right to your own opinion. I know the effort and the HARD WORK that every farmer and rancher puts into each and every day. I know how hard I work to earn a few dollars each month, and I know that Panera Bread will not be seeing any of my money again. If I want an overpriced and underwhelming meal, I will take my money elsewhere.