Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why family farms name their animals

“…we’re on first name terms with our cows and their farmers through our sustainable dairy farming program”

“Family farmers give animals such a better life because they use the personal touch like naming them..”

Retailers like Ben & Jerry’s that use Family farm suppliers are always going on about how family farmers name their animals, as if having a name somehow makes getting slaughtered less painless.

Why exactly did the family farms decide to name their animals in the first place…

That dairy cow’s not producing like she used to, get rid of her -- Which one?  -- The black and white one -- They’re all black and white -- The one with the patch on her back -- They all have patches on their back --The one, fuck I don’t know how to describe her, they all look the same -- Hey, I know, why don’t we give ‘em names? -- Fucking A, that way we can tell the slaughter boys which one to kill and it’ll make our progressive customers think we treat these cows just like family members  …. Hey, that dairy cow’s not producing like before, get rid of her -- Which one? -- Wilco -- Come here, Wilco, Wilco...

More on family farms naming animals here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dairy cow checks out the menu of Ben & Jerry’s flavors.

Let’s see…

Stun Bolt Berry Blast
Slaughtermint Swirl
Rape Rack Raspberry

...hey, someone replaced the real Ben & Jerry’s flavors with this subversive crap.  Where’s the message about happy cows on a first name basis with their local farmers?  Someone scratched it out and wrote how us happy Ben & Jerry’s dairy cows have our calves yanked away and shipped off to veal farms.  We’re artificially impregnated, our calves are taken again.  Four years and our milk production slows.  We’re no longer economically viable so it's time for the slaughterhouse.  Lies!  Slander! I’m happy.  Look at the way they drew me with all these happy bright colors.  They had to.  They couldn’t show the photo of the real me because then people would know the truth … Huh?  Now I’m sounding subversive, too.  What's going on? Ben & Jerry made me part of the team.  They gave me the opportunity to help people enjoy delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They provided my calves with veal crates. And I turn on them like this? What’s wrong with me? … Hold on, my farmer who’s on a first name basis is calling me.  What?  I’m not efficient enough anymore?   Time for what? At least I’ll get to live on on the Ben & Jerry’s website, helping tell people about their Caring Dairy program.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Progressive Meat Pounder

Meat producers are thrilled to have discovered a lucrative new target group: people who want to ease the suffering of animals without giving up the delicious taste of their flesh. They fear the torture and slaughter of the animals they consume might be incompatible with their progressive self-image, so they’re willing to pay premium prices for the illusion that these animals lived happy, pain-free lives. Meat producers and their retailers have come up with innovative ways of appealing to these prized customers.  The Whole Foods five step Animal Welfare Rating Standards, Animal-Welfare Approved, Certified Humane Raised & Handled, etc. etc.

The meat producers are so intent on appealing to this progressive target group, they’ve apparently even branded their meat-related accessories as “progressive,” e.g. the progressive meat pounder (pictured).

Other progressive kitchen products include…

The progressive matching knife set and rationalization set. “Free range animals live happy lives.”  “It’s a step in the right direction.”  “The slaughter is quick and painless.”  Store these and all your other rationalizations in one spot for quick and easy access.

“World’s Greatest Self-deluding Chef” apron. Ideal for barbequing up those animal welfare approved ribs.

The progressive mixed messaging bowl.  You want to end animal suffering now.  But you’re craving a juicy steak.  Say what?  The mixed messaging bowl is the ideal way to mix these messages to confuse yourself and others so you can crave justice and that juicy steak without relinquishing your progressive credentials.

Check out the entire catalogue of progressive products.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Whole Foods grass fed beef disses on the Burger King Whopper.

GRASS FED:  I pity you.  Raised on some factory farm while I was out in grassy fields.
WHOPPER: You’re a piece of charred flesh now, just like me.
GRASS FED:  It’s every grass fed steer’s dream to someday make it to the refrigerated section of Whole Foods with an Animal Welfare-Approved label on the package.  And I did it! I was purchased by compassionate people who turned me into Pepper Steak with pomegranate sauce.  You? You get wrapped in paper and stuck under a heat lamp ‘til you get scarfed down by a carload of hungry frat dudes who couldn’t care less about your pain and suffering.
WHOPPER: We were both killed way before our time.  We’re both going to be eaten.
GRASS FED:  I’ll be savored with a glass of chardonnay.  You’ll be washed down with 32 oz. coke.
WHOPPER:  What I’m saying is...
GRASS FED:  Not interested in what some low life from the 99 cent super value menu has to say.  I’m grass fed, Animal Welfare Approved. I was purchased by a progressive couple who cared deeply about my well being. You should have heard the two of them discussing how good they felt that I got to graze on the grass...
WHOPPER: ..before the farmer dragged you into the slaughterhouse and shattered your skull with a captive bolt.
GRASS FED:  Must you be so crass?
WHOPPER:  The first bolt missed your brain.  You were writhing on the ground before he got the second bolt to work.
GRASS FED:  Thankfully, the compassionate couple who purchased me aren’t around to hear this.  It would spoil the meal they worked so hard to prepare.
WHOPPER: If your progressive Whole Foods shoppers are so concerned about your suffering, why don’t they stop eating meat?
GRASS FED:  You think you're so smart with your brain teasers and unanswerable riddles.  Go to your frat boys, your Walmart deal hunters.  I'm going to be eaten by refined people who want us steer to get slaughtered ethically and compassionately and you don't even have the gratitude to appreciate it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A brief message from Temple Grandin's House of Slaughterhouses

Folks, lately some of our competitors have been claiming their seal of humane slaughter will make people feel better about eating animals.  Phooey! Why settle for an Animal Welfare Approved sticker on the package when you can cut out the middleman and get yourself a humane slaughterhouse from temple Grandin’s house of slaughterhouses! Folks, We’re proud to say we’re the only slaughterhouse designer to win PETA’s coveted Proggy Award for making the slaughtering process more profitable and efficient for meat processors, I mean painless and stress-free for animals. We use only the finest captive stun bolts that pierce the animals’ brains so smooth and easy they’ll think they’re getting shiatsu massage. Your animals will swear by it and so will your customers.

"I saw a video about factory farms and it made me sick to think people can treat animals like that. I vowed never to eat steak again. Then a friend told me about meat processed at Temple Grandin’s house of slaughterhouses. Goodbye guilt, hello rib eyed steak!"
-- Kim L., Gardenia, Calfornia

That’s right, folks, so come on in and check out our complete selection of slaughterhouse designs and slaughtering accessories at Temple Grandin’s House of Slaughterhouses, where humane slaughter is our middle name!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

HSUS overcomes HSUS opposition to enriched cages for laying hens

The HSUS and United Egg Producers had a big press conference to announce an "historic agreement." The HSUS agreed to "give up on a push to ban cages entirely in exchange for the opportunity to work for a a single, nationwide standard mandating better conditions."

If passed, the new agreement will...

Require that all egg-laying hens be provided, through the new enriched housing system, with environments ... such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas.

Some cynics may claim the HSUS made the agreement because their check-writing, egg-eating donors wanted them to lay off the United Egg Producers. But maybe they genuinely believe "enriched cages" really do improve the hens' pre-slaughter lives. They're opposed to “furnished cages” because...

Furnished cages are typically equipped with a nest box, perch and dustbathing areas … furnished cages provide an unacceptably limited amount of space per bird … furnished cages remain unable to adequately provide and acceptable level of welfare for hens…

These new enriched cages must address all the concerns the HSUS had about furnished cages. Let’s compare…

Enriched cages have perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas. Furnished cages have perches, nesting boxes and dustbathing areas.

That’s it then. The HSUS was playing hardball with the United Egg Producers. Replace the term “dustbathing area” with “scratching area” and the term “Furnished cages” with “enriched cages” and you’ve got yourself a deal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Diary of a young Hormel PR executive

It’s my first week on the job and I’m a nervous wreck. I wonder if I’m up for it. I mean I’m prepared. I’ve studied the classics. I have a quotation from our VP Julie framed above my desk. It’s from when the video surfaced of pigs being beaten with metal poles and slammed to the cement floor in one of our supplier farms in Iowa. I can recite Julie’s response by heart.
We found the images of the footage from the Iowa farm appalling and they are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for animal handling. The abuse on the video shows practices that are completely unacceptable.
How did she come up with that? If the press called asking me for a statement, I would have frozen up. I would have said, “well, yeah, we kill them because you eat them. What’s the issue here? How does the way we kill them make any difference?”
But she realized people out there want to think pigs they eat are well-treated so they feel better about eating them. So in a moment of inspiration, she came up with a classic statement of outrage. She almost makes me believe we care about the well-being of the pigs. I can never aspire to that kind of greatness.
Then there’s the Hormel statement on corporate responsibility. Another instant classic.
This is simply about treating animals humanely because it’s the right thing to do … we take our zero tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals very seriously. Pork producers are the best ambassadors for animal welfare in the United States. They set the standard and do everything they can to make sure the animals have the best welfare.
I read things like this and I feel like I’ll never amount to anything. I would have thought slaughter and humane treatment are a contradiction, that people would laugh at me if I made a statement like that. We kill thousands an hour and we believe in treating animals humanely? We’re the best ambassadors for animal cruelty but we call ourselves the best ambassadors for animal welfare? Wow. I never would have come up with that in a million years. I’ve got so much to learn. Well, nose to grindstone. Keep studying, keep learning. I’ll get there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A simple explanation for the existence of “humane certified” meat

Humane certified meat exists because the people in photo one don’t want to be mistaken for the people in photo two. The people in photo one contribute to public radio, sign petitions for cleaner waterways. They put their Whole Foods meats in reusable shopping bags. The guy in photo two still has his ticket stub from the Slayer concert in his pocket. He chugs beers at tailgate parties. He buys his chicken wings by the 4o lb. box.

The people in photo one read and discuss Michael Pollan books.The guy in photo two thinks Michael Pollan is that actor in "The usual suspects."

The people in photo one are concerned about the suffering of the animals they eat. Not concerned enough to stop eating them. But really really concerned.

The guy in photo two has a tee shirt that says, “I love animals. With ketchup on top.” The people in photo one consider this joke to be in very bad taste. It makes them uncomfortable to think they have the same disregard for the suffering of a fellow creature as the guy in photo two.

How can they demonstrate the difference? They can consume meat approved by the Humane Farming Association and American Welfare Institute. Meat carved from the carcasses of animals treated with kindness and compassion before the stun bolts shatter their skulls. That way the people in photo one can convince themselves that, unlike the savage in photo two, they care deeply about the suffering of the animals they eat.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our humanely raised beef is more humane than your humanely raised beef.

It all started with people who sought the dual benefit of assuaging their conscience (feeling better about eating flesh from a tortured/slaughtered animal) while at the same time showcasing that refined conscience to others (the vanity boost conferred by the possession of something impressive, similar to driving a luxury automobile). By not only consuming humanely raised meat, but also being willing, even eager, to pay a premium for it, these people of conscience managed to elevate themselves above the uncaring masses who eat meat with complete disregard for the suffering of the animal who provided it.

This dual benefit of an assuaged conscience plus a vanity boost became highly sought after by flesh-eating progressives everywhere. Humanely raised labels and brands proliferated. This posed a problem for the original progressives. They were once again just part of the herd. It was more difficult for others to see and appreciate their refined consciences. So it was only inevitable that they would seek a new way to differentiate/elevate themselves, a way of saying our humanely raised beef is more humane than your humanely raised beef. Soulfood Farm has just what these progressives are looking for. Soulfood Farm turned to the American Welfare Institute to give them a conscience-conferring label that separates them from the other providers of humanely raised animal flesh. From their blog...

To me, the name says it all. It begins with the animals’ welfare, unlike the vague “humanely raised,” that is slowly being eroded…

Now the other “humanely raised” eating progressives are forced to play catch up. Soon they too will seek the more stringent AWI approval and the progressives who want their consciences to stand out will have to find an even more humane form of torture/slaughter and so on and so on, an endless cycle. If these people really want to stand out, wouldn’t it be much easier to just go ahead and splurge on that Lexus?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cattle Network article on the trendy, youthful phase of veganism

The article talks about Mean Greens in the University of North Texas, the first all-vegan campus cafeteria in the country.

If I were a meat and poultry purveyor, I wouldn’t worry too much about this breaking news … being trendy is what college is all about. Many of the diehard vegetarians roaming the campus will turn much more traditional – in food and politics – once they hit the adult world …

…But just like the massive amounts of information students struggle to absorb in class, then rarely refer to again once college is over, much of passion for the (alleged) value of vegetarianism tends to follow a similar path once the campus rebels of today enter the real world of adulthood tomorrow.

The writer displays admirable journalistic objectivity, just like he was taught at the National Cattleman’s Journalism School.

To summarize the main points of his article:

We should see the University of North Texas students’ temporary experimentation with a vegan diet for what it is: an act of crazy youthful rebellion before they return to the sane world of gestation crates, stun bolt guns, shackle hoists, torture and slaughter. College has always been a time for exploring new boundaries. In the past, kids experienced identity confusion, possibly experimenting with drugs and binge drinking, but they never crossed the dark line and embraced wild ideas like a steer having the right to not feel his flesh ripped from his body while he's still alive. Or the positively anarchic belief that maybe animals shouldn’t spend their brief lives in a dark crate before their skulls are shattered so people can consume their flesh.

It’s hard to know how to account for the inexplicable radicalization of these vegan students. Maybe it’s the fear of entering an uncertain job market. A sense of being cast adrift. How else can we explain them believing hens shouldn’t get de-beaked with a heated blade, sickly piglets shouldn’t get slammed on concrete floors, downed cows shouldn’t be beaten with a metal pole when they can’t stand up?

But we all need to take a deep breath and realize this is just a rite of passage. A mini-bout of temporary insanity. We need to remind ourselves that thinking an animal has the right to not have a bolt driven through her brain is just a nutty phase some college kids go through. These kids will be okay. Soon enough they’ll be ordering up a big juicy sirloin at Applebees, shaking their heads at their wild youthful beliefs. They’ll have entered the sensible world of adulthood, where steers, pigs and chickens only exist so we can enjoy the taste of their seared flesh, just like God and the National Cattleman’s Association intended it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The rough and final drafts of the KFC statement on animal welfare

The final draft:

KFC is committed to the humane treatment of animals … As a major purchaser of food products, we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to influence the way animals supplied to us are treated. We take that responsibility very seriously. We are monitoring our suppliers on an ongoing basis to determine wither our suppliers are using humane procedures for caring for and handling animals.

The rough draft:

KFC is committed to making people think we care about the humane treatment of animals. We thought there was big money when we came up with dipping sauces. Shit, that’s nothing compared to the PR bonanza of making people think we give two shits about the lives of the little chickies before we off them. It’s a friggin’ gold mine. We’ll kill the buggers any way you want -- gas, knife, metal pole. Just so long as you give us your gold star or your Proggy or whatever you call your animal welfare compliance award. As a major purchaser of food products, we have the opportunity of killing a shitload of these chickens and if one of our suppliers needs to blow off a little steam by stomping on one of them or throwing one against the wall, well, shit, what would you expect? But give us some pub and we’ll pretend we care. It worked for Burger King and McDonald’s and it can work for us too. We take the responsibility of profiting off animal rights concerns very seriously. We’ll write animal welfare statements up the wazoo. We got a whole floor’s worth of PR flaks who can say things like “These actions are completely contrary to all our company’s practices and policies regarding the humane treatment of poultry.” Cha ching! You guys have no idea how much the public concern for animal welfare is gonna make us, cluck, cluck, cluck, here chickie, chickie, let poppa fast food exec kill you kindly so you can make him a rich man, heh heh!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

HSUS: Humane Society of the United Egg Producers

Go to the farm animal campaign on the HSUS site and the donation button says “Let’s phase out battery cages!” They could say, "Let’s phase out consumption which results in the slaughter of millions of chicks and laying hens per year. Even free range hens come from hatcheries where half the chicks born are males who, because they're useless to egg producers, are ground up in machines or suffocated in dumpsters. Laying hens undergo forced molting (starvation up to two weeks) and when their egg production becomes commercially unviable, they’re sent to slaughter. Bigger battery cages won’t help. The only way to end this endless suffering is to stop eating eggs."

Why won’t the HSUS say this? Let’s see how it might go…

HSUS: Let’s phase out our consumption of food which results in slaughter of millions of hens each year.

HSUS donors: Let’s phase out donations.

So the biggest animal advocacy organization in the world can’t advocate a behavioral change which will result in preventing the death of millions of the animals they supposedly exist to help. Instead, they put their money into campaigns for bigger cages. They make videos depicting abuses. This means bad PR for the United Egg Producers. They don’t like bad PR. And HSUS donors don’t like feeling bad about eating their eggs. Maybe it’s time for the HSUS to dial back on their bigger cages campaign.

HUSU: Let’s phase out opposition to the United Egg Producers.

HSUS donors: Let’s phase out donations.

HSUS: Okay, let’s eliminate our opposition to the United Egg Producers in one fell swoop. We’ll hold a big press conference touting the new partnership. We’ll toss out phrases like “better way forward” and “historic agreement” We’ll give them fifteen years to implement their changes. How’s that?

HSUS donors: Where’s my checkbook?

More detailed account of lives of laying hens here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meet Kristen, the newest California Happy Cow

America viewed the casting videos and selected Kristen as the newest Happy Cow in the California Milk Board advertising campaign. We're told we can follow Kristen's experiences as a Happy Cow at Really? The milk board really wants its milk drinkers to follow the life of a dairy cow? In the first commercial, we'll see the farmer remove Kristen's calf when he's only a day old and ship him off to become veal. Kristen will be so traumatized the farmer will have a difficult time strapping her into the milking machine. In the next commercial, he'll shoot Kristen full of hormones to increase her milk output. She'll be forced to produce ten times the amount of milk she normally would. When her milk productions lapses, the farmer will artificially inseminate her, remove her calf and repeat the process. We won't be able to follow Kristen much longer at Her life span would normally be around twenty five years, but her milk output will decrease to unacceptable levels after four, so in the final video of Kristen's brief existence, we'll see the farmer apply the stun bolt gun to her head then the commercial will fade to black. It will be time for Real California Milk to audition for a new Happy Cow to replace Kristen. Here's a group shot of all the Happy Cows who produce real California Milk waiting to see who will become the next Happy Cow.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Michael Pollan will be having a carcass signing

Michael Pollan’s website says he’ll be having a book signing October 12 at the Barnes & Noble in Methesda, Maryland. Book signings are so passé. Why doesn’t his publisher organize a publicity event more in keeping with Michael Pollan’s writings and stage a carcass signing instead? It couldn’t take place at a bookstore. They wouldn’t want blood and entrails all over the espresso machine. They could stage it at the farm where Michael Pollan purchased steer 534 so he could witness first hand the raising and slaughter of a steer.

First, he’ll read a quotation from one of his outraged attacks on factory farms..

The lives of billions of animals on American feedlots and factory farms are horrible to contemplate, an affront to our image of ourselves as humane.

Followed by an excerpt from his NYT article on a 36-hour dinner party he hosted...

Mike and I drove to the ranch to choose our animal and watch the itinerant butcher dress and slaughter it.

As he signs copies of the carcasses, he’ll explain how slaughtering animals in factory farms is an "affront to our image of ourselves as humane" while hungrily watching an itinerant butcher slaughter them for a 36 hour dinner party promotes fellowship and goodwill. Is it because the butcher is itinerant while the factory farms exist in a fixed location? Only way to find out is to attend this gala carcass signing for yourself.

But Michael Pollan won't only be signing steer carcasses. No sir. Pick a farm animal, any farm animal, he'll sign them all. He'll sign carcasses of pigs, chickens and goats he consumed at Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm as he reads another excerpt...

In Polyface Farm, chickens live like chickens, his cows like cows, pigs, pigs ... animal happiness is unmistakable. And here I was seeing it in abundance.

He’ll then describe his own unmistakable happiness as he sat back and let his digestive juices go to work on those animals whose happiness he just got through celebrating.

He’ll finish with a final one-two punch of moral outrage and meat-juice-dripping-down-the-chin ecstasy. The outrage...

Broiler chickens spend their lives in cages too small to ever stretch a wing. Every natural instinct is thwarted, leading to a range of behavioral vices that can include canablizing her cage mates and rubbing her body against the mesh until it is featherless and bleeding.

The ecstasy...

Melissa has a sure hand with the hacksaw and the butcher knife; within 20 minutes the goat is transformed into considerably more appetizing cuts of meat ... Mike cuts slivers from the loin and passes them around … the raw meat is surprisingly sweet.

There’s sure to be plenty of talking out of both sides of the mouth for everyone at the Michael Pollan carcass signing. He’ll share some his favorite rationalizations. He'll offer up recipe ideas. He'll explain how condemning the abuse of animals in factory farms while celebrating their slaughter by local farms has made him a best-selling author. So mark your calendar and be sure to bring a knife and fork to the Michael Pollan carcass signing.