How important is the organic food movement to David Chang?
Organic doesn’t really mean that much to me. Organic means that certain farmers are doing it, but sometimes it could just be more of a marketing ploy. Two examples like organic: There are a lot of farmers that don’t make a lot of money, and for them to be organic, they’re going to go straight out of business. But they’re going to raise their animals and their vegetables in a much more humane way — in a better way — than any farmer that’s certified organic. So it’s just, again, semantics really.
Organic is something that is also a marketing term. I was dealing with large pork producer a few years back, and I wouldn’t buy their pork because it was commodity pork. When I say “commodity pork,” these are pigs that are raised in terrible conditions. They came in here in suits and I was like, “Okay, this is a major food conglomerate, not a bunch of farmers, wearing slick suits.” And I’ll never forget, I was like, “How can these guys say they’re farmers?” And I told them, “Listen, I want to know the farmer, I want to be able to call and I want to be able to talk to the farmer about what’s going on with the animals, the feed. There needs to be not just the story. I need to know that the pigs were treated right and they are going to taste a certain way.” They said, “Okay,” and literally a week later I look on the website and they have these families that have popped up everywhere representing this company. And I just thought, “Oh, and it’s organic now.” I was like, “Well, how is that possible?” So that’s when I really started to be a little bit leery of the word organic.