When Chick-fil-A’s president made a recent declaration that he did not support gay marriage, opinion on the fast-food chain was forever split. There have been calls for boycotts on the side of gay marriage supporters, while opponents of gay marriage, like Mike Huckabee, have called for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. The issue of gay marriage has dominated the discussion of Chick-fil-A’s ethics, but there is also another ethical issue that dogs fast-food companies like Chick-fil-A that is more fundamental to their operations than gay marriage: Their support for factory farms as the only way of finding the meat for their products. This ethical issue is as equally important as social issues in justifying a boycott against Chick-fil-A and other food providers.
The evils of factory farms, also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), are well documented. The animals are kept in tight-enclosures, causing them to develop various sort of physical deformities and behavioral problems. Such living conditions are perfect for the spread of disease and antibiotics are overused to prevent them, often creating bacterial strains resistant to one or more antibiotics.
CAFOs are often used by the fast-food chains because they require large amounts of meat that a single farm will not be able to provide. However, there have been many different trends that are affecting our food choices: eating locally, organic foods, free-cage or free-range eating, and eating animals that feed on pasture. All these trends are on the rise and it’s time for fast-food chains to take note and change the way they run their businesses.
While it is cheaper for fast-food companies to get their meat from CAFOs, obtaining their food from local farms has several advantages. For one, supporting local farmers economically allows their farms to expand operations and raise more animals, improving their profits and boosting the local economy. Animals raised in local farms suffer the same final fate as their factory farm compatriots, but the quality and dignity of their lives (and meat) improves as a result. Finally, producing the meat more locally lowers the cost of transportation for the meat, resulting in less fossil fuel emissions.
Roughly 95 percent of U.S. commercial eggs come from hens in battery cages
Changing the way large, multinational fast-food chains like Chick-fil-A obtain their meat is not a pipe-dream. Companies like Chipotle have pioneered the practice of gradually changing their model of food production to incorporate local farms for many, if not all their products. The local economy, the welfare of the animals and the quality and image of a company all improve as a result. Chick-fil-A could certainly use a boost to their reputation right now.
If we demand higher ethical standards on the issue of gay marriage from our fast-food chains, then demanding higher ethical standards in the production of their food should be even more logical and feasible. For this reason, you should boycott Chicck-fil-A until they commit to more humane practices for the animals, as well as the environment in their operating philosophy. Oh, and they should also revise their views on marriage.