The animal-rights group Direct Action Everywhere has released a report claiming that Whole Foods supplier Diestel Turkey Ranch raises its birds in terrible conditions. The report is accompanied by video reportedly taken in a dark, overcrowded barn at a Jameson, California, farm that is responsible for raising most of Diestel’s turkey and that DAE says is representative of how the company really operates — as opposed to the bucolic farm in nearby Sonora, California, featured in marketing.
DAE essentially claims that the Sonora farm is a façade, and for what it’s worth, a 2013 water discharge report, filed because of complaints about toxic waste from a Diestel facility, reveals that only 1 percent of the company’s turkeys are raised there. Fourth-generation rancher Heidi Diestel says the pasture-raised birds sold at Whole Foods come from the Sonora farm, while standard holiday turkeys come from large farms like the one in Jameson.
It’s not the first time this year that animal-rights activists have accused Whole Foods of selling meat that is less humane than claimed. In September, PETA released undercover video recorded at Whole Foods pork supplier Sweet Stem Farms and subsequently sued the grocer for claiming it only sells humanely raised meat. Sweet Stem’s owner, Philip Horst-Landis, dismissed the PETA footage as manipulated and distorted, but did tell Bloomberg that the increase in production required after becoming a Whole Foods supplier forced some compromises.
Diestel and Whole Foods are likewise rebuffing DAE’s claims, with the grocer saying the organization’s view is skewed because it wants to end animal agriculture. Whole Foods also says that it sent a team out to investigate the Diestel farm and that the footage does not paint an accurate picture.