Whole Foods is selling rabbit, and bunny lovers aren’t happy

Jonathan Gold says the chicken fried rabbit, which is brushed with honey, is even better than the fried chicken served at the Ladies' Gunboat Society.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Some Whole Foods locations have started selling rabbit. For those who can’t get enough of the fried rabbit at the new Flores and the Ladies’ Gunboat Society, this news may cause a slight shrug. But rabbit advocacy groups around the country aren’t happy.

The market chain is testing a rabbit program at select locations in Northern California and in Washington D.C. In a recent news release, Whole Foods claimed they are simply supplying what their customers are asking for and that the market spent four years researching the animal welfare standards for rabbit.

“For many years, lots of customers have requested that we carry rabbit,” reads the release. “But first we needed to ensure the rabbit we sold would be consistent with [Whole Foods Markets’] high animal welfare standards.”

Some of Whole Foods’ standards include group pens for the rabbits, because they like to socialize in groups; continuous access to drinking water, feed, roughage, gnawing blocks etc.; treatment when the rabbits are injured; and allowing mother rabbits to nurse and recover before being re-bred.


But the House Rabbit Society advocacy group isn’t satisfied. The group is attempting to stage a day of action Sunday with protests around the country, including at Whole Foods locations in Pasadena, Glendale, West Hollywood and San Diego.

The protests will involve handing out leaflets that read “Whole Foods Market sells pets in their meat case. #Savethebunnies.”

With a growing popularity of rabbit dishes on restaurant menus, including LA Chapter at the Ace Hotel downtown, Flores and the Ladies’ Gunboat Society and Bucato to name a few, the rabbit advocacy groups may have their work cut out for them.

“Rabbit is one of my favorite subjects because it is so versatile, like veal or chicken,” chef Evan Funke of Bucato told L.A. Times test kitchen director Noelle Carter in a recent article about the popularity of rabbit. Funke likes to cook rabbit ragu. “Anytime I get the opportunity to introduce people to rabbit, [I do]. Ragu is easy.”

According to Carter, you can also buy rabbit through Belcampo Meat Co., Puritan Poultry and online.

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