Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's The Animals !

Animal agriculture has been in the news a lot lately. October has seen a lot of coverage.

Oprah's powerful October 13th show focused on California's Prop 2 coming up for a vote Nov.4th. Both proponents and those opposed to the initiative were well represented. Video clips were shown from a variety of sources, even some undercover footage taken in a veal barn. The farmers who oppose Prop 2 insist that they will be ruined, forced to give up the business of raising animals for food. They happily gave tours of their modern 'farms', unabashedly presented hundreds of enormous sows living their lives out in gestation crates so confining that they cannot ever turn around, or hens crammed into cages suspended in barns, their feet, wings and beaks in constant danger of becoming entangled in the wire of the cages....presented this as the most modern humane way...this way they're free from food competition, aggression from the other animals and can be administered shots and have their health managed much more individually....all in the name of better animal health and food safety, they say. Other farmers, who use more "humane" methods, also happily gave tours of their farms, insisting that more sunlight, space ,natural food and opportunities to stretch wings and root in the dirt is not only better for the animals and the taste of their flesh, but also for the farmer's bottom line. HSUS's Wayne Pacelle spoke eloquently and patiently for the animals who have no voice in all of this debate over their bodies and lives.

Michael Pollan wrote a fantastic 8,000 word letter to the incoming president addressing changes that need to be made in how we grow and eat our food in the October 12th issue of the NYTimes magazine. Very worth reading.

And this week's NYTimes Magazine has an article about Wayne Pacelle, titled, The Barnyard Strategist, and how he's shaped the HSUS in the last four years into a very powerful politically savvy voice for farmed animals as well as advocates for cats and dogs.

Daily reminders of food prices going up , due in part, to feeding 70% of US grain to farmed animals and to quote Pollan's letter to the president, "...40% of the world's grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels."
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of global manmade greenhouse gases. We're bringing the planet down for the luxury of eating cheap animal flesh and their secretions. How is it that people can't connect the dots, now that it's been drawn out for us to so plainly see ?

Even the comic strip, Mutts, written and drawn by Patrick McDonnell brought the animals' plight to the table in the Washington Post for the week of October 12-17th with the animals themselves sweetly pleading people to hear their voices.

So. I should be happy that all of this is hitting mainstream America. Right ? I am, to some degree. What I'm not seeing, feeling, is the outrage that I had hoped people would feel when they see what a horrific, filthy , polluting, cruel scam the whole animal agribiz is. It is still business as usual. Pollan weakly promotes eating less meat , but mentions grass-fed beef as the answer so often I wonder if he's got a stake ( no pun intended, seriously ! ) in it. But it's not just "meat"'s dairy, it's's the animals !!!!!!!
I keep hoping Pollan will come to his senses and go vegan. What a force he could be. I do really love his idea of a White House Organic garden on the South Lawn....what a wonderful example.

So. Yes. Word is getting out. But with the constant election buzz on and the economic meltdown in mid-ooze, I think the message that industrial animal agriculture is bad, bad, bad, just becomes background noise. Too bad it can't sell air time for the networks like the silly doings of celebrities and/or the presidential and vice presidential candidate's mudslinging. Sigh.

Well, as my husband says, Continue To March...!

One more thing.... You would think that the alternative to breeding, feeding, applying antibiotics and growth hormones; disposing of all the waste of the animals and dealing with the attendant water, air, and land pollution; and finally slaughtering, processing, shipping and storing ( all very energy intensive ) of the body parts and by-products was something so repulsive and difficult as to be a non-starter. Tofu ? Plant milks ? Nuts, grains, fruits, vegetables...such simple, easy and incredibly tasty ways to feed ourselves without bringing down the planet. It feels so good to be vegan, but so sad to take this all in.