The reason I rated this product under 1.0 is because of the inherent environmental impacts of chicken farming and plastic usage. Looking at both greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, eating chicken may be a more environmentally friendly source of protein compared to milk and nuts, but a worse source of protein than tofu and beans. If you are going to purchase chicken and want it at a low price, Simple Truth Organic Chicken is one of the more environmentally friendly options. Because Simple Truth Organic has only one supplier, Perdue Farms, it is easier to know what agricultural practices are being used to raise their chickens. I believe that Perdue farms genuinely would like to become a sustainable poultry supplier based off of the environmental stewardship page on their website. That being said, Kroger, the parent brand of Simple Truth Chicken, owns many other unsustainable private labels, lowering the overall rating for this product.
Chicken is lower on the list of greenhouse gas emissions per 100 grams of protein when compared to other animal products such as beef, seafood, and milk. That being said, the production of chicken still creates more greenhouse gases than tofu, peas, and nuts. When looking at water usage, chicken farming actually uses less water per 100 grams of protein when compared to milk, eggs, peas, and nuts. The packaging for Simple Truth Organic Chicken is a combination of hard and soft plastic. The hard plastic tray is recyclable, as indicated by the label. That being said, the plastic waste from this packaging is still likely to end up in landfills where it will take many human life cycles to degrade.
Simple Truth Organic Chicken is sourced from Perdue and is raised without antibiotics. This is important in preventing the rise of antibiotic resistance in bacteria colonies. Antibiotic resistance is a threat to human health and the future of animal protein production, so raising chicken and other animals without the use of antibiotics is an important aspect of sustainable farming. The chicken from Perdue is also organic and fed an organic vegetarian diet. Organic food is good for human health because it doesn’t contain remnants of synthetic pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Additionally, organic farming practices can help promote healthy soil and water and reduce agricultural pollutants. Perdue also outlines its animal welfare policies on its website, saying that chickens raised on Perdue farms have access to an outdoor area, natural light, and open air ventilation. There is no clear information on their website about the square footage per bird. This is likely because Perdue partners with smaller family farmers rather than owning large scale farms, so exact conditions like this are not entirely consistent. As to how the birds are slaughtered and processed, the company website mostly emphasizes that the whole supply chain is located within the U.S. I wish there was more information on how the chicken is processed and packaged that could demonstrate the company’s sustainability.
In this section I will discuss the two major contributors in producing Simple Truth Organic Chicken, Perdue and Kroger. First, the suppliers: Perdue Farms. On their website, Perdue has a page dedicated to environmental stewardship where they outline their five year plan to become more environmentally friendly. Their main goals are to reduce their greenhouse gas intensity 30%, reduce water usage by 25%, and decrease solid waste sent to landfills 90% by 2023. They also have information about their progress in 2020 and their overall progress compared to a 2015 benchmark. They have succeeded in diverting 93% of waste sent to landfills and have decreased carbon emissions 15%. However, their water usage intensity has increased. Despite this, I am glad to see their progress in sustainable agriculture transparently represented on their website. This honesty is a refreshing contrast to many other companies who only discuss the positive progress they've made and omit data that shows them falling short of their goals. Furthermore, each Perdue location is required to take on an annual Facility Sustainability Project that reduces waste or emissions. Overall, I think Perdue is putting in tremendous efforts to be sustainable and is succeeding in many ways. The same can’t be said for Kroger, the parent company of Simple Truth Organic. Kroger does have a Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative that I applaud, however they also own a lot of distinctly unsustainable brands. (Such as other private labels that use completely conventional farming practices). I do appreciate their efforts towards being more environmentally friendly, but I would like to see more concrete progress before I could comfortably call Kroger a sustainable company.