Completely confused about what I am talking about? For awhile Panera has used the statement that they serve antibiotic free chicken in their stores. This statement in itself is confusing as all the meat that you consumer, whether it comes from a farmer's market, Wal-Mart, McDonalds or Panera, is antibiotic free. There are strict withdrawal times that farmers and ranchers must adhere to. It is illegal to sell meat that has antibiotic residues.
Now there is a difference in how livestock can be raised. On our farm we only administer antibiotics when a calf or cow is sick. I don't want to see them suffer and I don't want them to infect other calves or cows.
Now back to Panera and their claims. Yes, what they are posting on their menu upsets me, but what infuriates is their new marketing campaign. Introducing Ez Chicken.
EZ Chicken is the new character that Panera Bread has created. He portrays that farmers want to take the easy route aka too lazy to do its Panera's "right way."
As blogging friend and dairy farmer Dairy Carrie points out...
She/he seems to be guilty of sloth. I mean who knew that they even made chicken sized hammocks? Of course chickens aren’t really out there holding up pharmacies to get drugs. Even if they somehow pulled off looking intimidating, chickens can’t get the pill bottles open. While you can order some chicken fingers with your fries, chicken thumbs aren’t on the menu. It doesn’t take a genius to understand what you’re really saying here.
But wait you say, Panera isn’t calling all farmers and ranchers lazy! They are just calling the ones that use antibiotics lazy! I used antibiotics to help a sick calf get better last week, my friends the organic farmers had a cow with pneumonia and they gave that cow antibiotics to make her better. They had to sell her, but she lived. Does that mean we are lazy? Is it lazy to take care of our sick animals?
Panera let me tell you one thing: Even though the boy and I choose to farm conventionally (use antibiotics) we are not lazy! I hope you will read Dairy Carrie's entire blog post about Panera, the Ez Chicken and antibiotics as she makes some really good points. And as consumers I hope that you continue to seek farmers out and ask questions about where your food is coming from and what these marketing campaigns really mean.
Update (7/25/13): Thanks to Carrie Dairy kicking off this speak up campaign and all those who followed Panera Bread started removing all the references to Ez Chicken on their Facebook page and deleted the Twitter account! When we speak up together we are heard.
Update: (7/25/13): Carrie Dairy was promised that someone from Panera Bread would contact her and that has not happened. They almost have only removed a couple of the Ex Chicken pictures. If you want to show support to farmers of all kinds use the hashtag #pluckexchicken whether you are on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Let's continue to make our voices heard!