A few more chickens just got a little more comfortable — and your conscience got clearer.
Recently, Panera announced new commitments to improving its animal welfare program, which was already one of the most advanced in the industry.
In addition to all of its pork, chicken and turkey being antibiotic-free and fed a vegetarian diet, Panera announced that by 2020, all of its hens would be cage-free. (About 20 percent of its eggs come from cage-free hens.) In addition, 89 percent of its beef is grass-fed and free-range; and starting last year, none of its pork supply relies on gestation crates for pregnant sows.
We’ve maybe heard the most about Chipotle’s commitment to ethical animal practices with its “Food with Integrity” campaign, but many other quick- and fast-food brands have joined the move toward better treatment of animals in recent years.Starbucks has a “buying preference” that continues to increase the proportion of their sources that use cage-free eggs, use antibiotics responsibly and don’t use gestation crates and artificial hormones. Other big chains such as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King have made similar commitments.
In statements, Panera has said it hopes its progress on these matters will attract younger consumers (like Millennials), but that these practices just make food taste better — so it’s a win all around.
The great news is the more restaurants that use this type of sourcing, the more the industry will follow along — meaning the availability of cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef for us regular folk will increase. And even better, when supply goes up, price goes down.
But we don’t have to just sit back and wait for this to happen to us. These restaurants changed their sourcing not just because it was the right thing to do — they changed because their customers have been demanding it.
It’s just a good reminder that when it comes to where our food comes from and how it tastes, the most powerful vote we have is our wallet.
That goes for our local small businesses, too, many of which have even stronger commitments to using organic and ethically sourced products — with the bonus of many of them being local to our area. Tonic, Rainbow Cafe, Grand Rounds Brewing Company, ZZest Cafe and Bar, Forager and Nosh are a few that come to mind, but there are many more.
Have some happy eggs today.
I have good news, and great news.
First, the good news: It appears Sushi Nishiki is back. It wasn’t a permanent closure, so let’s just call it a holiday break.
The great news? Several of my readers reached out after I (prematurely) mourned the loss of Sushi Nishiki to remind me of one of the best sources in Rochester for sushi.
Diane writes, “I lived in Florida for 25 years, eaten sushi all over this country and Ichi Tokyo is a keeper!” She says both the north and south locations are great and rival anything she’s had elsewhere. “I have never been disappointed,” she writes.
Sue the “sushi aficionado” agrees. “The fact is that we have two outstanding places for sushi — Ichi Tokyo,” she writes. “The sushi is top notch and rivals the sushi that we have eaten in Minneapolis and other cities … the fish is so fresh and delicious at Ichi Tokyo; such quality is hard to match.”
So next time you want to have quality sushi with fresh fish, vetted by readers of this column (so you know they’re legit), check out Ichi Tokyo South (102 20th St. SE) or North (3499 22nd Ave. NW).