I’m well aware negative spin headlines garner all the attention these days. However, when a fellow ag blogger took on a list of restaurants people should avoid due to anti-science stances, I decided to take a positive look at the story. I believe it can be a mistake to slam the door in the face of some of our biggest customers.

5 restaurants farmers and ranchers should visit


With 44,702 locations by 2016, Subway has the most stores of any restaurant chain in the world. Sure, the restaurant chain has found itself in a rumble or two surrounding yoga mat chemicals ingredients in its bread and elimination of antibiotics. Their update with clarified stances on antibiotics use in livestock was ill-timed, but at least they recognized the importance of tools available to farmers. The chain has also done work to promote sourcing vegetables locally when practical.

Subway Removing Antibiotics from Meat


With an estimated global revenue of 25.4 billion U.S. dollars (2015), any change in sourcing or product line in McDonald’s makes an impact on the industry . The restaurant chain has shown interest and dedication to sustainable sourcing practices through work on the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. In the past few years, McDonald’s also brought back real dairy products to its stores, along with all-day breakfast.

McDonalds All Day Breakfast Protein


Even if you’re not old enough to remember ‘Where’s The Beef?‘, you ought to be familiar with Wendy’s pride in a different burger. Not only is their beef patty square (inferring they don’t cut corners), they’re known for championing their beef with a savvy social media team. I’ve seen Wendy’s beef in a Tyson plant and it was not frozen – just like they advertise. That fact certainly raised a fuss online recently with doubters, which later turned into a Super Bowl commercial. However, I will say their frozen campaign could come close to pushing the line on suggesting there’s something wrong with frozen beef patties. There’s not – they’re just different.

wendys wheres the beef


Canada, this one is for you. Earl’s Restaurants made a change last year to source their beef from a different supplier. Not big news, but the change was to the U.S. involving a welfare marketing label. The news didn’t come across the best as it implied Canadian farmers weren’t raising their cattle humanely. However, these guys listened. The owner was loud and clear when he apologized and made several efforts to meet with Canadian cattlemen to hear their concerns and revisit the program to evaluate sourcing Canadian beef for the local chain, assessing claims that could imply improper cattle care on Canadian ranches.

Earls Kitchen and Bar Canadian Beef


Notice I didn’t say farmers and ranchers should patronize every restaurant on this list. I’ve hashed, rehashed, covered and highlighted time and again why Chipotle’s marketing campaigns should end. After they said farmers are evil, farmers lack integrity, and have refused to talk with farmers they’re bashing, I see no turn around for this company. I’ve even challenged them on CNN to practice what they preach. However, when it came down to Chipotle facing a food safety crisis, I did suggest farmers slow on bashing the chain, because food safety should be top priority for all in the food business.

chipotle food with integrity gmo over it

Why should farmers and ranchers visit restaurants?

Agree or disagree with these restaurants, I still believe it worthwhile for farmers and ranchers to visit their local locations. Managers and local employees need to meet local producers involved in their supply chain and be aware of concerns that may exist about corporate marketing campaigns. They’ll never know unless you speak up.

When you do speak up and introduce yourself to local employees, make sure they’re comfortable reaching out to someone knowledgeable and accessible when their customers have questions about agriculture and our food supply or if their marketing campaigns strike another sore spot with agriculture. That’s a significant way we can make a difference – to reach out to people in person and give them someone to ask. Otherwise, they may not have a different frame of reference to know any different.

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