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Just How Happy Are the Pigs That End Up at Whole Foods?

It's easier to sell shoppers on a vague vision of feel-good farms than it is to produce enough ethical meat.
The meat department at Whole Foods in Dublin, Ohio.

The meat department at Whole Foods in Dublin, Ohio.

Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

When you're pushing a shopping cart through the chilled air of the Whole Foods Market meat department, past rows of neatly packaged poultry and a glass case of butchered pork chops, the supermarket wants you to imagine the idyllic pastures of a place such as Sweet Stem Farm

Nestled on a handful of acres in scenic Lancaster County, Pa., the farm is run by a young couple who set out to create a grass-fed "farming oasis" for chickens, turkeys, lambs, cattle, and heritage-breed pigs, according to a video on the website of Whole Foods, which the farm supplies. "I want to see confinement farms be a thing of the past, really," Philip Horst-Landis, co-owner of Sweet Stem, says in the video.