Dear Subway, I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

*Please note due to the overwhelming response, I am unable to respond to every comment individually. I am however, reading them, processing & learning. Thank you!

Dear Subway,

I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

I really wish you would have done so before your big announcement saying you would, as of 2016, be sourcing all of your turkey and chicken as being raised without antibiotics.

I really, really, wish you would have visited those farms that supply your turkey, chicken, and as you stated, eventually your pork and beef that will be sourced as antibiotic free as well.

Here’s the deal. I like your food, I really do. Your chopped salads and chicken bacon ranch sub are my favorites. I layer my sub with veggies like cucumbers, spinach, and onion. However, your marketing ploy makes me sigh, as I guess I need to check off another restaurant that I can no longer eat at.

ALL meat that hits the market for consumption is and continues to be antibiotic free. See, meat is tested for antibiotics, and livestock given antibiotics have to follow strict withdrawal periods before they can be sold for meat. Farmers have to keep accurate records about what antibiotic was given, when it was given and to what animal. Animals that are sick are often housed in a sick bay or removed from other livestock to help stop the spread of a disease. Sometimes, it involves treating more than one animal to prevent the disease from spreading. Animals are treated based upon a veterinarian’s recommendation for the best course of action, and farmers follow that plan of care to ensure that animal is healthy.

Minnesota is the number one producer of turkeys. I have many turkey farming friends. I see how their birds are raised and cared for, and have been in their barns. Have you? Have you asked a farmer what it is like to treat a sick animal or let it suffer? Have you asked them why antibiotics are an important tool in their toolbox on their farm? Yes, birds are raised indoors in Minnesota. Wouldn’t you want to be indoors during -35 degree weather?

I have seen a calf come down with pneumonia, just like I did during my sophomore year of high school. I watched my Dad call the vet out. I went to my doctor. The vet prescribed an antibiotic and instructed my dad on how to administer the correct dosage of antibiotic to save the calf. My doctor gave me a prescription for 2 antibiotics and cough syrup with the correct dosage and directions for how to administer the antibiotic to myself so I wouldn’t get sicker. The antibiotics worked for the both of us. That calf went on to lead a perfectly healthy life, never needing an antibiotic again, and became hamburger on one of our customer’s plates. Would it have been better to just let the calf die? Is that calf not worthy of treatment just as I am?

Why are you afraid to have the conversation with farmers, to learn about what they do instead of forcing them to change the entire industry and their practices? Have farmers asked you to change how you do business? Farmers’ frustrations keep mounting as more and more companies are asking them to do something without rhyme or reason, explanation, or understanding. Farmers don’t do anything “just because,” there is research, time, dollars, education, sweat, blood, and tears involved in every decision made. Please Subway, won’t you just take the time to ask? To look? To understand the decisions from housing, to feed, to what breeds to raise, to who to hire, to what bedding gets used, to why an antibiotic may be necessary… before you make another announcement? An announcement, that I will fully admit, you are going to find very difficult to actually come through on.

I understand some things have happened that have tarnished your reputation over the past year, but hurting the family farmer will only add to that issue, not help. I vote bringing back shredded carrot as an option and that will go a long ways, and having a conversation with the farmer who works tirelessly to raise the product you need to sell those delicious sandwiches.


A farmer

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Note: As of 10/23, Subway has updated their antibiotic free policy to now read:

That said, we recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals. Accordingly, we are asking our suppliers to do the following:

  • Adopt, implement and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) guidance for industry 209 and 213, which requires that medically important antibiotics not be used for growth promotion. Visit the FDA site to learn more.
  • Assure that all antibiotics use is overseen, pre-approved and authorized by a licensed veterinarian before they are administered to any animal.
  • Keep accurate and complete records to track use of all antibiotics.
  • Adhere at all times to all legal requirements governing antibiotic withdrawal times. This assures that antibiotics have been eliminated from the animals’ systems at the time of slaughter.
  • Actively encourage, support and participate in research efforts focused on improving animal health while reducing antibiotics use.

Convincing my Husband we Need more Livestock…

I grew up with all kinds of livestock from sheep to cattle to chickens. I absolutely loved it. There was honestly nothing better than growing up on the farm, learning life lessons while caring for an animal that depended on you. My dad got me my first sheep, Gizmo, when I was around age 5. I remember playing with him in the house (bless my mom’s soul for what she went through with all of us kids – she even put diapers on this lamb so I could have it in the house with me!) and rollerblading and he’d follow right along behind me. He got a mixture of feed that included the “odd colored” fruit loops that we purchased from a cereal company in the neighboring town. My kindergarten teacher thought it was pretty neat we fed him fruit loops!

I also learned the circle of life with Gizmo. It wasn’t easy when I knew it was time for him to go to market and become meat for our freezer, but I also learned a valuable lesson about what our livestock was for, their role on the farm, and how to respect an animal that would later provide nourishment for my entire family. I learned all of this at a very young age, whether I knew it at the time or not.

The hubs and I have frequently talked about our farm goals and what they include. Three years ago, we raised and butchered a pig for meat for our freezer – it is still providing meat for the two of us, and we gave meat to our family as gifts as well. We also raised chickens and had some for meat and some we kept for egg production. I however, missed cattle the most. The cattle were one of my biggest memories of my family’s farm. I can remember mixing milk replacer for the calves, a sweet smell that always hung in our garage. Dunking noses in buckets, teaching calves to drink from a pail was always a soggy mess. Dehorning and castrating calves was always an interesting time on the farm that resulted in everyone helping, me, my brother and Dad, and if my other siblings happened to be home, yep, they were helping too! Shipping cattle to market or our local butcher was something that always reminded me that livestock were not pets, they had a role in life.

We have been really trying to figure out a way to diversify more, to bring more livestock on to the farm since it something both the hubs and I continue to be passionate about. Luckily for us, we have friends who farm and also believe in helping each other out when possible. We recently purchased this guy, a Jersey beef calf, and were able to work out a deal with our farming friends to have him at their place.


He is cute now, but cute gets big. We named him T-bone since we try to name all of our livestock as one of the products they will become (our pig was the Baconater aka Bacon). In about 18 months or so, he will be going to butcher for beef in our freezer as well as sold in quarters to friends and family. The hubs is learning about things like dehorning, vaccinations and castration since he didn’t grow up with livestock, and I am getting a refresher of it all again since it has been five years since I’ve had cattle.

I think the hubs operates sometimes with the mantra “happy wife, happy life” since I convinced him we needed to purchase T-bone. I keep telling him, our own hamburger in our freezer! I’m also glad that we have farming friends who we can work with to try new adventures and learn things every day. We bounce ideas off of each other, talk strategy and work together to get certain jobs done when necessary. Farming is kind of like a big family some days, one I am thankful for, because I learn something from every single farmer I know. I am thankful for those opportunities when I can listen and ask questions because it can only make our farming operation better, and make us better farmers ourselves.

Now, if I only I could get him to get me those three hens for my backyard…



From little on we’ve been instilled with farming values. These values include taking care of our animals. Pictured is Mark with one of his 4-H rabbits, and me with one of my 4-H lambs. We were both taught responsibility, compassion, the value of life, and how every creature serves a purpose on the farm.