Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hormel: 2008 food processor of the year

The old cliche about people looking like their dogs seems to have taken a morbid twist:  the two executives on either end resemble the many millions of hogs they've butchered.   

Senior VP at far left  -- Beefy hand at side barely uclenches in time for the photo.  It may have sounded like drink-propelled friendly banter floating over from the Tyson Chicken table, all that talk about how they could process a dozen chickens in the time it took the slowpokes from Hormel to process a single hog, but, ha, the words "the award goes to Hormel" wiped the smug grins off the faces of those punk ass chicken processors pretty fast.

Senior VP, second from left --   He gives powerpoints to full auditoriums every week so why tonight of all nights did he have to freeze like a mummified corpse?  He sneaks a sidelong glance at his flush faced compatriot at the far end grinning and leering like receiving an award like this is second nature to him.  He knows this guy will be full of drunken bluster at all the after-hours parties, claiming more than his share of the credit

Senior VP, center right.  Scholarly glasses, pasty fluorescent light complexion, aw shucks smile.  A portrait of modesty and deference but don't believe it for a second.  He's got both hands on the trophy and he doesn't plan on letting go.  He's the one who burned the midnight oil making sure those incidents at the suppliers' farms got buried in the press and weren't legally actionable.

Senior VP, far right.  Cheeks flushed hog blood red from all the pre-ceremony booze.  Mussed up hair from the group bear hug after the award was announced.  Doing his best to suppress the full-throated victory howl.  Spots the waiter at the table putting down a fresh gin and tonic.  Good man.  slip him a fiver on the way out.  Dreaming up sexually charged quips for the gals at the post award show parties.

How about the trophy itself?  Is it a replica of the blade that slits the necks?  No, it seems to be a Q for Quality.

Hormel's Austin plant alone slaughters 19,000 hogs per day.  Processes.  Not slaughters, processes.  Slaughter connotes judgment and we don't want to judge these jubilant executives on their big night.  It wasn't just the numbers that earned Hormel this award.  The year was filled with product innovations.  The new Natural Choice line of sandwich and deli meats was so successful it left Hormel executives grasping wildly for the appropriate sports metaphors.  CEO Jeffrey Ettinger called it his "rookie of the year."

Hormel deserves this award.  They really do.  Look at the faces of these four executives and you won't see the tiniest hint of self-doubt or remorse.  It's no small feat, this total absence of compassion for the suffering of fellow creatures, even after the video documentation of the unimaginable abuse these hogs endure in their brief, terrible lives.  Some people, when confronted with their complicity in this horror, would fall to their knees begging forgiveness, but Hormel blithely states on their website
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 their animals have the best animal welfare.
This ability to completely repress compassion for the suffering of others is surely a rare achievement.  Each and every Hormel employee deserves to share in the award.  And they will.  The trophy held up in the photo by the proud executives is by now resting securely in Hormel headquarters, encased in glass in some place of honor, where the thousands of Hormel employees can walk by it and share in the thrill of achievement.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fresh, ethically slaughtered chicken, aisle three!

The image greeting us on the Good Earth Natural Foods website is three hands supporting a globe.  Black hands and white hands, touching.  This is not your father's racist, oppressive corporation.
You won't find us listed on the New York Stock Exchange, nor are we going to open a store in neighborhoods all over the planet.
Not because those punks at Whole Foods beat them to the punch and became the health food darling of Wall Street and sucked up all the good real estate.  No, it's because Good Earth Natural Foods wants it that way.  They're not about expansion and profits.  Unlike all those companies ruled by greed and cruelty and the unrelenting pursuit of profit, Good Earth Natural Foods lives by higher principles...
We simply want to sell our customers food grown and processed using the radical but ancient concept, care.
Some of that food, e.g. chicken and turkey, is grown and processed using the radical but ancient concept of attaching so little value to another life that you can justify killing it so you can have a tasty meal or make money selling it to others who want a tasty meal.  Stop.  It is SO divisive to point out such tiny inconsistencies.  So much negative energy and Good Earth Natural Foods is all about positive energy.  Anyway they didn't specify what they meant by care.  They didn't say they cared about the lives of non-human animals.  Maybe they meant they cared about cultivating the image of the caring store, which is a very profitable brand positioning, just ask Whole Foods, those bastards, with their ticker symbol (WFM) and stores all over the planet, a planet they don't care about a fraction as much as Good Earth Natural Foods.  Shit.  Here I go projecting my cynical, divisive thoughts onto Good Earth Natural Foods.  Back to their website then...
Often care takes a backseat to the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  We feel that is wrong and shortsighted ... We always endeavor to remember that food contains spirit.
Huh?  What kind of scented candle smoke were you guys inhaling when you came up with that one?  We always endeavor to remember that food contains spirit?  Okay, well endeavor to remember this:  some of that food was a combination of body and spirit until you slaughtered the body part.  But I guess the gentle folks at Good Earth Natural Foods are okay with this.  Using the radical but ancient concept known as hypocrisy, they're able to slaughter animals while at the same time pontificating about "fresh, ethical products" and care never taking a backseat to the almighty dollar.

BTW, there's a help wanted section on their site.  Good Earth Natural Foods is looking for a fish and poultry worker.
to provide customers with fantastic service ... while ensuring that they receive a fresh, ethical product.  Our fish is ethically harvested and not farm raised.
This is kind of a head scratcher.  Maybe they mean it's unethical to kill fish raised for human consumption but kill them in their natural habitat and everything's cool.  And what are we to make of fresh, ethical turkey and chicken products?  I've read a fair amount of ethics.  Maybe I was always distracted just when I got to the part about the perfectibility of the soul through slaughter.  But forget that.  Their audacity wipes away all their sins.  Hormel, Tyson and the other big boys lie about the humane treatment of their animals prior to slaughter, but even with entire PR agencies at their disposal, they never go so far as to claim the act of slaughter itself is an ethical act.  The HOrmel PR people would bow down at the feet of Good Earth Natural Foods.  Teach us, oh masters, our lies are unworthy.  Impart your wisdom to us, your imperfect servants.

The help wanted ad continues...
We do not sell fresh red meat but we do provide organic, hormone-free and anti biotic-free chicken and turkey products.
i.e., we are too ethical to serve red meat.  But chicken and turkeys, screw 'em.  We only got room for so much ethics.  What do you want from us?  Didn't you see our photo on our website of black hands and white hands holding up the globe?  That's multi-culturalism and environmentalism in one fell swoop, pal!  We have recipes for entrees like Zen Stew in our healthy living section.  We even have a wellness center on the premises.  (human wellness, not chicken or turkey wellness)  So don't go talking to us about our little ethical lapses just because we take a short break from boasting about our refined ethics to slaughter a few turkeys and chickens.

It's a very strange ethical system they got going on at Good Earth Natural Foods.  Kill some animals but not others.  Take credit for the ones you don't kill.  The ones you do kill, take credit for not pumping them full of hormones and anti-biotics before you kill them then make the wild claim that this killing somehow results in an "ethical product."

All I can say is you guys at Good Earth Natural Foods are the coolest kind of hypocrites.  Anybody can violate their stated principles.  But not many are brazen enough to claim the violation of those principles is an ethical act in itself.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The "Animal Compassionate Standards" of Whole Foods

Every company that sells animal products now has a section on their website about their commitment to the humane treatment of the soon-to-be slaughtered animals.  At companies like Hormel, at least, these statements are tempered by the subtext of teeth gritted as they feign concern for the well-being of the animals, laughter suppressed as they wonder how anyone could possibly fall for their trumped up indignation over the undercover videos of hog abuse at their suppliers' farms.  All their talk about humane treatment is a PR necessity forced upon them, and it's pretty evident they want to lash out and strike the people responsible for making them do it.

But then you've got companies like Wild Oats and Whole Foods, who actually seem to believe what they're saying.  When they talk about humane treatment, you can practically see the conviction glittering in their eyes.
We have also been working on species specific Animal Compassionate Standards which require environments and conditions that support the animals' physical, emotional and behavioral needs to an even higher level.
"to an even higher level," implication being the level was already pretty darn high to begin with.  I'm still not quite grasping the concept of how slaughter meets the animals' physical, emotional and behavioral needs, though I do see how it meets the pecuniary needs of Whole Foods executives and shareholders.  Now we get to the kicker.
Although no producers have met these standards yet, many are exploring the opportunity.
Say what?  I believe "exploring the opportunity" is PR speak for although no producers have met these standards yet, many have told us, fuck no, are you fucking nuts?  Hog farmers exploring the opportunity to treat the hogs with compassion?  What's next, PR executives exploring the opportunity of telling the truth?

So how about the piglets?  What does the Whole Foods Animal Compassionate Standards have to offer them?
Although at this time there are few alternatives to blunt trauma for piglets, there is research being conducted to develop more humane euthanasia possibilities.  Whole Foods will stay abreast of these developments and when there are viable alternatives, investigate them to determine whether they should be added to our Animal Compassionate Standards.
Few alternatives to blunt trauma (stun bolt to cranium) for piglets?  Here's one alternative:  no blunt trauma.  No captive bolt stun guns, no shackling and hoisting, no blades.  Sending them to a farm sanctuary.  Now that would be animal compassionate. Well, that's just being ornery.  I know what they meant.  Few alternatives within the more narrow confines of slaughter methodology.   When an alternative method of acceptable slaughter is finally discovered, you'd think maybe that proverbial light would go on over their heads.  Did we maybe choose an inappropriate name for our standards?  Compassion and slaughter seem kind of, I don't know, like total opposites.  Should we go back to PR and have them do another brainstorming session?  Tell them to come up with something more believable, like our animal savagery standards or our horrific butcheries standards?

You guys at Whole Foods have no animal compassionate standards.  You subject animals to a life of misery and then you kill them.  If your strict adherence to your corporate brand image as good global citizen forces you to feign concern for the animals you slaughter, at least have the integrity to follow the lead of the people at Hormel and Tyson and tell us your PR lies through gritted teeth, with fists clenched and nostrils flaring.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A mentoring conversation in the marketing department of Whole Foods

-- So people are really falling for this whole humane treatment thing?
-- Four words.  Sales through the roof.
-- How come my personal lies never work this well?  Tell my wife I'm working late, busted.  Tell friends I can't come to their party because I'm out of town, busted.
-- Because your personal lies never benefit anyone but you.  Our humane treatment lie benefits us and our customers.
-- Explain.
-- People like thinking of themselves as morally superior to the people around them.  At Whole Foods, we tend to attract politically progressive customers who think what makes them morally superior is their concern for the planet and the less fortunate, which of course includes animals.  They despise people like the tailgating gluttons at football games, howling and waving their slabs of meat at the camera, because these tailgating gluttons couldn't care less about the suffering of the animals they eat.
-- But aren't the animals the progressives eat brutalized and slaughtered just like the animals eaten by the tailgating gluttons?
-- Exactly.  So the progressives try convincing themselves that unlike those tailgating gluttons, they feel guilty about causing animals to suffer and die.  But for some progressives this sense of guilt alone isn't enough.  They still can't in good conscience feel morally superior to the tailgating gluttons.
-- And that's where humane treatment comes in?
-- Precisely.  Our progressive shoppers can tell themselves they're willing to buy humanely treated free range chicken from Whole Foods for double the price.  Only someone with a highly developed sense of justice and sympathy for the plight of the weak would spend so much more than they had to to make sure the chicken had a happy, carefree pre-slaughter life.  Now these progressives can legitimately despise the tailgating glutton who buys his discount pack of Tyson drumsticks from Von's.  The beautiful thing about this particular type of moral superiority is that it has a dual benefit:  not only does it enable the progressive to look down his nose and make sly and sardonic comments about the tailgating gluttons.  It also eliminates any post-dinner guilt the progressive might have felt when he contemplated the suffering of the animal he just consumed.
-- So when we run our deceptive advertisements...
-- Deceptive?
-- Our blatant lies?
-- That's better.
-- When we run our blatantly lying advertisements about humanely treated chicken, we're not really selling chicken.  We're selling a sense of moral superiority.  We're helping our valued progressive customers to delude themselves into feeling a sense of self-righteousness that overpowers the guilt they might otherwise have felt over the suffering they caused?
-- You'll go far.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The editor of National Provisioner warns her readers about animal-rights activists

From the editor's journal of National Provisioner magazine:

They claim to be animal-rights advocates, but I see them as animal-rights criminals with absolutely no compunction about playing fast and loose with my civil rights -- and yours.  The growing threat of radical animal-rights activism is on the minds of members of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA).  ... The danger of activists advancing their cause through the Federal Government is greater than ever and live stock producers must take a more aggressive stand to protect their industry.
A renewed clarion call in the making.  Those of us fed up with cowering before these terrorists must join forces, draw a line in the sand and prepare to reclaim our civil liberties.  There is no stronger weapon than unity.

It's about time someone had the courage to speak the truth.  When will the oppression of livestock producers and agribusiness executives end?  Everywhere you look, livestock producers are living with the fear of bad PR and reduced profits.  Those greedy vegans by refusing to consume animal products are taking money out of the paychecks of deserving agribusiness executives, forcing them to downgrade to inferior country clubs, to drive less prestigious models of luxury cars.

When you encounter the fear and suffering of an agribusiness executive doomed to receive a smaller Christmas bonus, it's enough to bring tears to your eyes.  Courageous undercover activists have made videos of terrified agribusiness executives in unimaginably horrific office conditions.  These videos are not for the squeamish.  It's pretty graphic stuff.  One video showing a harried executive forced to work overtime to write a PR release defending his company's skinning a hog while it was still alive is especially heart-rending.  This executive had worked long hours all week and now he has to suffer the pain and humiliation of defending his company from a perfectly sensible business practice?  When will the madness end?

These greedy, heartless animal rights advocates want to deprive livestock producers of their god given right to earn vast sums of money and to slaughter animals as we see fit.  They slander our good name.  We must put a stop to the barbaric treatment of livestock producers and agribusiness executives today.  It's a moral struggle we all must join.  We must take our message to the world.  We must follow the lead of courageous organizations out on the front lines of the struggle like the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA). Our advocacy programs will help get the message out there.  Anything you can do will help.  Speak at schools.  Protest outside vegan restaurants.  Spend a day handing out leaflets explaining the plight of agribusiness executives and how people can help ease their suffering by increasing their consumption of meat and dairy products.  Every little bit helps.   We don't live in the dark ages, though it sometimes seems that way.  We can accept nothing less than the abolition of the mistreatment and abuse of agribusiness executives and livestock producers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You kill the hogs, we kill the germs!

Presenting the all-new slaughterhouse edition Meritech hand and boot washing system!

Customer testimonials:

"Our employees' boots got so caked with hog innards that they became too heavy to kick the hogs, which forced our employees to whack them over the head with palettes to keep them from moving around too much.  This quickly tired out our employees' arms, making them less efficient with the blade and thus forcing us to double the size of each shift.  Your boot cleaner changed all that.  Now our employees can kick the hogs as much as they want without getting tired.  Thank you!"

-- D.T., Hormel Foods

"After a long day disposing of the male chicks born to our laying hens by stomping on them, many of our employees complained of leaving work with little pieces of beak still stuck to the treads of their boots.  So we installed your automated hand and boot washing system.  Now the only thing our employees take home with them at the end of the day is the proud feeling of a job well done."

-- R.S., Tyson Foods

You've tried scrubbing and scraping and still you can't get the paste of hog innards off your hands and boots.  Those days are gone, thanks to the new Meritech automated hand and boot washing system!  Constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel, this unit utilizes a series of horizontal brushes to scrape away the remnants of hog tissue and even those stubborn chunks of vital organs that get lodged underneath your fingernails.  The state-of-the-art walkthrough boot scrubber gets rid of hard-to-clean hog innards in just seconds, so you're ready to head back to the line.  Because there's another stockcar full of hogs pulling up outside the processing plant and you don't have time to waste!  Some of the biggest hog butchers in the world count on us.  So why risk using one of those discount hand and boot washing systems and going home and tracking hog entrails all over your brand new carpet!  That'll never happen with Meritech.    But don't take our word for it.  Try it out for a free 30-hog trial.   Take 30 of your fattest hogs and get out your stun bolt gun and blade and get to work!  Wait until your hands and boots are nice and drenched with blood and offal and other hard-to-clean hog innards.  Now stick your hands and boots in the new Meritech and watch that hog blood vanish in just seconds.  Heck, we're so confident you'll love your new Meritech, we offer an unconditional guarantee.  If you're not completely satisfied your hands and boots are 100% hog entrail free, we'll cheerfully refund your money.  So what are you waiting for?  Install Meritech in your slaughterhouse today.  You'll be glad you did.

After the slaughter, don't count on just water.  Meritech.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ben & Jerry sneak the word "slaughter" into the AVMA passage on animal well-being

I was down.  I wanted to be uplifted.  So I headed over to the Ben & Jerry's site for talk about peace and goodwill in multi-colored fonts.  I navigated my way to their statement on animal husbandry and, guess what, those sneaky ex-burnouts are pulling a fast one on us.  They got us mesmerized by the lava lamp of their progressive vision so we wouldn't notice what they were really saying.  They start out by quoting an American Veterinary Medical Association statement about humans being responsible for all aspects of animal well-being, including slaughter.  Say what?  Slaughter part of well-being?  Isn't that irony a little much, even for them?

I went to the AVMA site and read the passage:

Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.

Animal welfare is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, slaughter, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.

Check the links.  Do you see slaughter in the AVMA passage?  No.  Ben & Jerry added that part about slaughter.  Dudes of peace and goodwill, what were you thinking? Did you think our eyes would be so overflowing with tears of fellowship after we read about your 50 ways to promote peace that we'd overlook your little addition?  Or that we'd miss it because we were chuckling so hard at all your ice cream-themed puns, like the one about licking global warming?  Or maybe you thought after reading all your talk about your progressive values we'd be in such a rush to go outside and do our part, I don't know, maybe by taking support Ben & Jerry's petitions door to door, that we'd turn off our computers before we noticed you added the word slaughter.

Look, nobody's saying the AVMA statement isn't filled with its own kind of hypocrisy.  All their talk about humane treatment is a PR cover for the abuses of the self-proclaimed pig loving people at Hormel, like swine veterinarian Darly Olson.  But they didn't include the word slaughter as one of the components of animal well-being.  You did, Ben & Jerry.

Why?  Maybe it has something to do with Ben & Jerry's 50 ways to promote peace.  Adding the word slaughter to the passage on animal well-being was how they could generate peace and goodwill and overall good vibes with the local Vermont manufacturers of stun bolt guns and other slaughtering equipment. 

Of course, no Ben & Jerry's post would be complete without a few new flavors:

Stun Bolt Berry Blast
Awful Offal and Cream
Slaughtermint Swirl

More Ben & Jerry's here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What was that Prius doing in the Burger King drive-thru lane last night?

Dude, what about those carbon footprints you're always talking about?  I mean the Prius is great and all and we know you signed two petitions for cleaner waterways at the open market on Saturday, but that Double Whopper you're ordering, come on, you've read the articles.  You know how the head of the nobel-sharing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said we can reduce greenhouse emissions by as much as 18% just by eating less meat.  Okay, fine, you're going to pput the double whopper wrappers in the recycling bin instead of the trash.  I guess that makes up for it.  Please drive through.

We love talking about reducing our carbon footprints.  Just not the carbon footprints leading to the meat section of our local Whole Foods.  We shop with canvass shopping bags with cute drawings of earths and catchy recycling slogans on them, but what about the slabs of beef we put in those canvass shopping bags?  If we really and truly care about the environment why not give up meat?  Or if we insist on eating meat, why not stop saying we care about the environment?  Because we like the idea of caring about the future of the planet.  It's cool to have an altruistic mission outside our own selfish pursuits.  Calling ourselves an environmentalist does wonders for our self image.

But that's cynical.  Way too cynical.  A lot of environmentalists really genuinely care about the future of the planet.  But.  There's always this but.  We know eating meat does far more damage to the environment than using non-rechargeable batteries and keeping appliances plugged into their sockets.  So how come we keep eating meat?  How come?  Wait, I can feel a rationalization coming on, here it comes, here it is.  We take lunch breaks from work, right?  So why can't we take a lunch break from our beliefs?  Why can't we take a lunch break from being an environmentalist?  Not a long lunch break.  We'll scarf down our burgers so fast you'll barely notice we're gone.  Then we'll hop back in our Prius and go home where we compost and read with compact flourescent lightbulbs, where we've bookmarked tree hugger and sign every electronic petition that comes our way.  Here, we'll even up the ante.  We'll pee at least five times before we flush.  Five!  But right now we're on our lunch break, so ease up.

Look, seriously, we understand cows and methane gas and all the energy it takes to clear fields for grazing.  We understand all that.  If we stopped eating meat, it would reduce emissions.  But here's the problem.  If we stopped eating meat, we wouldn't get to eat meat and that would suck.  Big time.  Almost finished.  A few more minutes and our lunch break will be over and we'll go back to being an environmentalist.  We'll even make amends for eating this Whopper, okay?  We'll flip off two Hummers on the way home.  Finished.  Lunch break's over.  Let's go find a Hummer and give it a piece of our mind!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The final two hours of a life

Yesterday, I saw something small and dark moving over the grass.  It was a rat, pulling itself with just its forelegs.  It was shivering violently, from the cold I thought at first.  My neighbor and I put it in a box and under a heat lamp.  The tremors got more violent.  It turns out it was poisoned by the neighbor on the other side of the street.

Aisle three is where you'll find the stuff in the Lawn & Garden section of Ace Hardware.  "Just one bite" mouse and rat bait.  For indoor and outdoor rodent control.  Kills Norway rats, roof rats, house mice, even wafarin resistant Norway rats.  Someone's buying a container of it right now, exchanging pleasantries with the clerk.  Not a moment of doubt or hesitation complicates the transaction.

Everyone agrees the neighbor who put out the poison is good people.  If he's driving and there's a car approaching in the narrow street, he'll pull over to the side to let the other driver pass, and he'll always smile and wave as the driver goes by.  He snowblows the sidewalks of the elderly on the street.  He asks you how you're doing and he cares about the answer.

The rat pushed its head into the corner of the box.  Its eyes remained wide open.  Its body throbbed so hard it seemed like its hide might burst open.  It took the rat at least two hours to die.

I have a friend who's a psychiatrist.  His wife is a teacher.  They are both tolerant of what they consider aberrant behavior -- like, say, not consuming animal products.  They see it as, not weird exactly, more of an eccentricity.  And they're both fond of eccentrics.  It interests them, this idea of not consuming any animal products.  The teacher asked me once how far it goes.  She said, would you kill a rat, as if that were the true threshold.  If you wouldn't kill a rat, you were off the charts, you just crossed the line from endearing eccentric to she doesn't know what.

She and the Ace shopper and the Ace clerk and the neighbor who snowblows the sidewalks of the elderly would all agree on one thing:  it was just a rat.  Do you know how many diseases those things carry?  They caused the Black Plague, for god's sake.  So if it has to drag its useless rear legs across the lawn and it shakes with tremors from the internal hemorrhaging from the wafer the friendly Ace clerk sold the friendly Ace shopper, then so be it.

The psychiatrist is the person to ask.  I ask him over drinks.  If a person comprehends the abstract idea of pain and also understands that a rat is a mammal fully capable of suffering pain, if without even blinking this person decides the rat should die and the way it should die is two hours of its innards eaten up by bromodilone, could we maybe call the behavior of this person pathological?  The psychiatrist and the teacher laugh, but a little uncomfortably, due to their fear that the joke I just made wasn't really a joke after all.  Maybe it's the wine, they think.  yes, that's it, the wine.  I wouldn't have said that if I didn't have the wine.  Here, let's all have another glass, the psychiatrist says.

A rat.  A dirty, filthy disease bearing rat, source of plagues and the willies.  You do one thing and one thing only to a rat.  You kill it.  That's what you do.  Life is filled with so many gray areas, enough moral ambiguities to drive a person nuts.  So those few certainties there to grab hold of, we grab hold.  One of those certainties is this:  the life of a rat has no value.  The pain a rat suffers is of no consequence.  If you ever doubt this truth, just go to the lawn and garden section of your local Ace Hardware and see how the clerk with the little red vest beams with good will when you ask him to explain how Just one Bite works.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Various interpretations of an inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim's hat

On a street not far from here, there's a massive inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim hat.  What exactly was the homeowner who put it out on his lawn trying to say here?  How did he want us to interpret his artistic offering?

Theory #1 --  The homeowner is a no holds barred satirist who's making a radical statement about the heinousness of the Thanksgiving tradition of turkey slaughter by turning the tables on the people who started the tradition.  Imagine, the homeowner suggests, that instead of pilgrims eating turkeys, it was the turkeys who ate the pilgrims.  While this turkey was blooding one of the pilgrims, the pilgrim's hat fell onto the ground and the turkey kept the hat as a keepsake and put it on his own head.  This theory is backed up by the girth of the turkey.  Look at it.  It's massive.  And these were the days before hormones.  What the homeowner wants us to take away from our viewing of this swollen-bellied turkey is that it consumed a multi-course dinner of pilgrims.  The homeowner also hopes we'll extend his Swiftian metaphor and imagine other turkeys celebrating what they call Pilgrim's Day in different ways.  The little ones would make crude crayon drawings of pilgrims.  Dad turkey would sit at the head of the table.  The honor of carving the pilgrim carcass would go to him.  And so on.  What an inflammatory idea.  I'm amazed this homeowner's neighbors didn't torch his house after they saw it.

Theory #2 -- The homeowner is reminding us that both the turkey and the pilgrim, as symbolized by his hat, are alike in that they're both creatures created by the same god.  By combining these two symbols, the homeowner is attempting to drive home the horror of the tradition of one of God's creatures consuming another.

Theory #3 -- The turkey, fully cognizant of its imminent death and worried about its soul, decided to get religion.  Since the pilgrims' religion was the only one he could find, he adopted it and started wearing the hat and writing masochistic, forgiveness-seeking verse.  The homeowner hopes we'll be struck hard by the irony of one creature embracing the religion of the creatures who are about to slaughter and consume it.

Theory #4 --  The homeowner simply got a good deal.  Wal-mart was having a two-for-one special on inflatable symbols of American-perpetrated atrocities.  Here the atrocity of the pilgrims wiping out Native American civilizations is combined with the atrocity of 46 million turkeys slaughtered this Thanksgiving alone just because the pilgrims' descendants enjoy the taste of their flesh.  (Wal-mart was all out of the atomic bomb on top of a white's only drinking fountain and some of their other two for one atrocities.)

Anyhow, these are the theories that occurred to me as I was walking by

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving leftovers

It's tempting to think people can only consume animals by forcing themselves to look away.  We can't resist the taste, okay, so don't tell us about it and we'll block it out of our minds, okay.  But then you look around during the Thanksgiving holidays and you see it's not like that at all.  People are very much okay with the idea of turkeys slaughtered for their pleasure.  Start with the football games on TV Thanksgiving Day.  They kept cutting to the same shot of turkeys in a claustrophobic turkey farm, pecking wildly, frantically climbing over each other, as terrified of the blade awaiting them as any human could ever be.  And, no, PETA didn't buy air time, this was the image the network used to get us in the Thanksgiving mood.  Whenever they cut to this turkey farm image, they'd cue the lush, orchestral schmaltz networks usually reserve for profiles of Olympians from small midwestern towns who overcame personal tragedy to triumphantly pursue their lifelong dream.  This schmaltzy music/turkey farm image combo would create the requisite evocative Thanksgiving mood and the play-by-play announcer would shift his voice down into a solemn baritone as he wished all America a happy Thanksgiving then expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the guys in the production truck, who would then wave to the camera and mouth the words, happy thanksgiving, everyone.  Okay, so there's that.  But we don't just use imminent turkey slaughter to conjure up feelings of humanity and empathy.  Emotionally versatile as we are, we're also able to see the lighter side of turkey slaughter.  Turkey consumption is the source of a neverending font of jokes.  These jokes tend to come in two forms:  1)  the turkey is the siren leading us to our gastrological doom.  These jokes feature us, as the self-deprecating glutton.  We fondly ridicule ourselves about the weight we'll put on, speculating on tomorrow's bulge in the belly after all that turkey.  We hold the turkey accountable for our sin of gluttony, but it's a good-natured condemnation.  After all, the turkey tastes so darn good, so how mad can we be, we're not total ingrates!  2)  the second common joke theme is variations of the turkey doing its level best to avoid slaughter.  These jokes are everywhere.  I just passed a lawn sign, next to an inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim hat (subject for another time).  The turkey in the sign urges us to eat ham instead.  Heh heh!  Clever turkey understand we only have room for one species of animal at a time in our guts and by god he means to take advantage of this knowledge.  Not so clever turkey, there's room in our guts for every last one of you!  Talk about anthropomorphically projecting our traits, we manage to make this turkey sinister, deceitful and deluded in one fell swoop.  So, what else?  There's a Far Side cartoon that's been showing up on a lot of sales and marketing blogs, I guess because salesmen understand the importance of levity as a pre-requisite to human bonding.  In this cartoon, the turkeys attempt to fool the blind farmer by mooing like cows.  (The ever-observant suicide food handles theme #3, turkey consuming itself, applicable Thanksgiving and all year round, a theme but really miles and miles from being a joke, though that's the only way you can treat it.)  Then there's this one here, pictured above.  It's not a joke exactly either.  A lot of time went into it, whatever it is.  It seems to be a rendering of the turkey contemplating its imminent slaughter with a monkish stoicism that would make Marcus Aurelius proud, and in an unconventional medium to boot -- a wallace & grommitish claymation, I guess.  It looks good. It'll probably earn the studio that produced it the opportunity to bid on a car commercial.  so.  Animal slaughter that makes our food possible isn't our dirty little secret.  We don't have to look the other way, remaining purposely ignorant of the slaughter perpetrated for our benefit.  Just like Sarah Palin using the slaughter as a backdrop for her pardon the turkey so I can look presidential stunt, we're pretty much cool with the whole thing.  So fatten up them turkeys because Christmas is right around the bend.  wE'll replace the pilgrim hats with santa hats on our inflatable turkey lawn ornaments and we'll be good to go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

You in all your boundless wisdom did create the turkey, Oh Lord, but they were living turkeys, running freely upon the earth, when surely, Oh Lord, you intended them to be dead and their corpses to be resting upon our tables.  But worry not, Oh Lord, for we, with wisdom greater than your own, for which we do heartily give thanks, have rectified your error.  We have slaughtered your creation the turkey for you and not only have we slaughtered them, Oh Lord, 46 million of them for this blessed day alone, but to provide ourselves with a greater bounty of flesh, we have pumped them full of hormones, which you also overlooked, Oh Lord, but rather than slander your name, we do confer upon you all our forgiveness.  On this blessed day, we have gathered together, young and old, from all parts of the country, to give thanks to you, Oh Lord, who, in all your wisdom, created us and there can be no greater glorification of you, Oh Lord, than the miraculous creation of us.  We give you our thanks and we pray to you that you do, in your infinite mercy, forgive yourself, for though you did mistakenly create a living turkey instead of the dead one whose corpse now steams upon our table, you rectified your error by creating people with the wisdom to fatten and slaughter these turkeys, and also the wisdom to ignore their suffering and their inexplicable desire to live, and because of this creation of us your reputation will always be great, Oh Lord, rivaling even ours.  Thanksgiving, this time of year when we are warmed by human virtues and we glorify the human race ... well, not the entire human race, most of them do sin greviously, no, we glorify that portion of the human race which does reside within the borders of the United States and who do celebrate this blessed Thanksgiving.  We sing of your virtue, Oh Lord, for creating us and we sing of our virtue for acknowledging your greatness in creating us.  So as we slice and consume the flesh of your creation, which you mistakenly created living instead of dead, and for that we do heartily forgive you, we once again give thanks.  Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The California Milk Board is casting for new Happy Cows!

So let's see how the casting sessions are going...

A cow is led into casting room by assistant casting director.

CASTING DIRECTOR:  Okay, it's the Happy Cow auditions and you're auditioning for the part of Sally.  You'll be frolicking in sunlit fields while the voice-over tells people great cheese comes from happy cows.  See, in our focus group testing, "great cheese comes from miserable, abused cows in dark cramped cages" didn't go over so well.  So happy cows it is.  Okay, here's a little backstory on your character.  In order to produce milk, you have to lactate and the California Milk Board can't wait around for that top happen naturally so the dairy farmer hoists you up on  a rape rack and artificially inseminates you.  Suppose you give birth to a male.  Just as you joyfully start cleaning it, the dairy farmer yanks it away from you to sell it to the veal producer and it's back to the rape rack for you.  Okay, ready for your audition, I want to see happy now ... and ACTION!  No, that look of misery is all wrong.  We're looking for happy here! You're called the happy cows, not the despondent cows.  Not the cows of blackest despair!  Come on, work with me here.  Let's try another take.  You're back on the rape rack.  This time you give birth to a female.  She's not going to a veal crate, so you can turn that frown upside-down and be happy.  The two of you will get to spend some good quality mother/daughter time together when she's old enough to join you on the rape rack.  Okay, show me happy!  And ACTION!  You call that happy?!  I've seen happier looks on a pig about to be skinned alive.  Thank you, we'll get back to you.  If we need you, we know where to find you, or at least what's left of you after you get a quick stun bolt to the brain, heh heh heh.  Look at the bright side, you may not get to be a happy cow, but at least your skin will be worn by the pretentious director with a fake British accent who films the happy cow commercials.  So you're still in show biz.  Okay, next....

More Happy Cows here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The rough and final drafts of the Hormel Foods position on humane handling

The final draft:

A video was released that showed images from a hog farm in Iowa.  It is important to note that the farm in the video is not a Hormel Foods' farm and the people are not Hormel Foods' employees.  We find the images in the video appalling and they are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for humane handling.  The abuse on the video depicted practices that are completely unacceptable.  Animal welfare and animal husbandry have always been top priority at Hormel Foods.  This is simply about treating animals humanely because it's the right thing to do.

The rough draft:

A video was released by some do gooder freakshow punk that showed some images from a hog farm in Iowa of a hog getting dunked in boiling water while it was still living.  It is important to note that it was a freaking hog!  You hear us, a freaking hog!  So the workers got a little carried away and they dunked it in boiling water when it was still alive.  And now it's dead.  Are we missing something here?  What part of it's a freaking hog don't you understand?  Yeah, you're all so civilized.  You want to think we treat the hog to a five star spa experience before we slit its throat.  You know why we slit its throat?  For you!  Because you've got a taste for hog flesh!  No hypocrite with a taste for hog flesh is going to get all high handed with us and act like you're so deeply horrified about what happened in that video.  Oh, we almost forgot.  It's a freaking hog!  You people make us sick with all your holier than thou preaching.  Now we got to waste time acting like we give a shit so people who don't give a shit any more than we do can read it and think we're all so nice and civilized.  You want us to say how humanely we treat 'em, how we give 'em room to turn around and stretch their little legs?  Are you forgetting something?  We freaking kill them!  So you can eat their flesh.  Okay, fine we'll jot down a few bullshit words saying how appalled we are, how that video is inconsistent with our standards, how we demand our suppliers adhere to the strictest standards and stick it on our website and you hypocrites can go back to salivating over the hog flesh on your plates and saying grace like you live in some polite and genteel world where hogs live like little princes until they magically turn into pork.  You want us to leave you with a Hormel humane treatment policy?  Fine.  Not giving two shits about what happens to these hogs has always been top priority at Hormel Foods.  You know why?  Because they're freaking hogs!  Now will you leave us the fuck alone?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Time for the annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House

In a few days, (soon-to-be-former, thank god or whatever) President Bush will keep alive the great American Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a turkey.  The idea that this president is giving a pardon rather than receiving one is a topic for another day.  A couple from Elsworth, Iowa will present the approximately 45 lb. turkey that gets pardoned to the president.  Paul "butterball" Hill, his wife, Mary Hill, and their entire family -- because you don't exclude the children from an honor like this -- presented the turkey to the Iowa press today (think man lands on moon front page) and by tomorrow will be flying to the White House.  Paul Hill was given the honor because he is chairman of the National Turkey Federation.  Herein lies a tale of deceit and betrayal.  George Thornton (also pictured above) is President of the National Wild Turkey Federation.  He thought the honor of presenting the turkey for pardoning was going to him.  With good reason.  Much like with the Sunnis and Shiites, the Bush people played the National Turkey and National Wild turkey federation chairmen off each other.  They whispered things in their ears.  They encouraged, they baited, they offered enticements.  In the end, the honor went to Paul "Butterball" Hill and George Thornton returned home to lick his wounds.

Don't know anything about the National Turkey Federation?  (Sorry, George Thornton, not enough space here to pimp the National Wild Turkey Federation.)  Here's the "about" section, which was composed by the poet laureate of Iowa:

The National Turkey Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products.

So Paul "butterball" Hill and family are probably flying to Washington this very minute.  Last Thanksgiving, Bush pardoned two turkeys named Biscuits and Gravy and he made the following two jokes:  "You cannot take the heat and you're definitely going to stay out of the kitchen."  "Biscuits had to earn his spot.  It was neck and neck."  And you thought those presidential speechwriters couldn't do comedy.

So what happens to these pardoned turkeys?  They go to Kidwell Farms, in Frying Pan Park, in Fairfax County.  Really.  I thought the turkey slaughter puns had trickled down from the White House to the newspapers reporting the story but no.  The pardoned turkeys really do go to Frying Pan Park, where visitors can stroll down Carving Knife Lane through the Basting Gardens or camp in 450 degrees for 3 Hours Campground.  That's silly.  Paul "butterball" Hill would never stoop to making facetious, some might say cynical, comments like that at a solemn ceremony like this.  So Kidwell Farms.  The pardoned turkey will join goats, pigs and cows at the petting farm, where people can pet and make cooing noises at the animals they normally consume.  This is where George "butterball" Hill's approximately 45 lb. turkey will end up after being subjected to a few slaughter-themed puns by George W. Bush.  And the next day, the visitors will arrive to pay homage.

DAD:  here, Billy, pet the nice turkey.
KID:  What, so we can kill it later.
DAD:  Not this one, Billy.
KID:  But we kill the others, one of its relatives.
DAD:  We don't kill it, Billy.  Someone kills it for us.
KID:  So we're cowards?
DAD:  No.
KID:  Hypocrites?
DAD:  Okay, fuck it, we're going to Six Flags.

So to follow up on the question of the hypothetical conscience-stricken kid, what exactly does happen to turkeys on turkey farms?  Not Frying Pan Farm.  The non-pardoned turkeys, I mean.  Stephanie e posted a video of what happens on one of those farms.  You don't want to see this video.  REally.  You don't want to see it unless you want to go to sleep tonight hating your fellow man.  Next time you think people force themselves to ignore the abuse and  suffering of animals because they like the taste of their meat, you'll remember this video and you'll know that some people don't just ignore it, they actually derive pleasure, the kind of pleasure that sex can only dream of equalling, pleasure from choking and bludgeoning and neck-stomping and other things that should never exist outside of hell.  It's stomach-turning, nauseating stuff.  I was going to say maybe the White House could supplement the pardoning ceremony with this video and if it's a little harsh for the camera-snapping tourists, they could just add a laugh track to soften it.  But that's a joke, and there's no place for jokes anywhere near this video.  Just saw the video again and there's only one more thing worth saying.  The end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rape Rack Raspberry: A new flavor from Ben & Jerry's!

Ben & Jerry are pissed.  The FDA approved meat and dairy from cloned animals and they aren't having any of it.  It's the cloned part that annoys them, not the animals slaughtered for human pleasure part.  "We're beside ourselves, twice over," they say on their website, the playful pun tempering the indignation, reminding anyone with power or money who might happen to stop by their site that at heart Ben & Jerry are still a couple of fun loving sixties goofballs, so nobody should take their rant too seriously and take it out on the wildly successful businessman part of them.  Never mind that.  It's not the issue here.  Everyone knows the story of Ben & Jerry.  They made a name for themselves as countercultural stoners who made good.  They're known for retaining their Chomskian views and their hemp wallets.  They created the Caring Dairy initiative to convert farms to green energy.  They use fair trade ingredients.  They treat their workers well.  I've been to their factory in Vermont.  It's the biggest tourist attraction in the state.  I've seen the busloads of tourists limping out of busses and up the steps on their canes to get free ice cream to supplement their obesity ... stupid wine that I'm drinking, that's not the point either.  Ben & Jerry's outrage over cloned cows appears genuine, not like the statements about animal welfare on, say, the Hormel website, written by flak #478 in cubicle #4524.  Ben & Jerry's "intends to tell consumers exactly what's in our ice cream and other products through truthful labels..."  Truthful labels, they say.  I say, hmmm.  I don't want to trash Ben & Jerry.  I've probably gotten stoned to the same music they have, though it's more of a retro stoned.  I still spend a lot of time in Vermont.  But really now, Ben, Jerry.  You must know the fate of the cows that produce your ice cream.  The rest of the do good philosophy plays well in the press.  Brand image, as we used to say in my advertising days of hypocrisy and rationalization.  But doing good has to have boundaries, doesn't it?  And the thick, uncrossable boundary for Ben and Jerry is what happens to those ice cream producing cows after their ice cream days are over.  If they really want labels of truth on their ice cream, they could tell people the fate of the original source of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey when she stops being productive after a few years.  And maybe a separate label to tell people what happens to her male offspring, how it ends up in a veal crate.  You're always looking for new flavors, aren't you, Ben & Jerry?  How about "Veal-nilla?"  And how about one named after the dairy cows that get artificially inseminated on the rape rack?  Raspberry Rape Rack.  It's alliterative, just like a lot of the Ben & Jerry flavors, so it should be popular, though maybe not in the Cherry Garcia, strawberry cheesecake universe of hyper-popularity.  Okay, back to the rant on their website.  "Ben & Jerry's still believes every cow has a right to be herself."  Up until we milk her dry and slaughter her the same way we slaughtered her son ... No, Ben & Jerry didn't say that part.  That was me, rearing my editorial head.  Ben & Jerry say ... ah, screw it.  I'm tired and a little buzzed.  I'm going to bed.  But you should take a break from your rant about cloning, Ben & Jerry, and check out what happens to those ice cream producing cows of yours afterwards.  If you can't make it to your local slaughterhouse, there's plenty of videos online.

VP, marketing considers making his products cruelty-free

VP MARKETING:  We're losing sales to products that claim they're cruelty-free so I was thinking, what if we put cruelty-free labels on our products...

VP LEGAL:  Cruelty-free means we don't test on animals.  But we do.

VP MARKETING:  We force feed them toxins.  That's not testing on animals.  It's testing in animals.  You see what I'm saying?

VP LEGAL:  I'm not sure that distinction would stand up in court.  Besides, we do test some of our products on animals.  We douse rabbits with our shampoos until their skin melts off.

VP MARKETING:  Good point.  I forgot.  Wait.  I got it.  Our products are cruelty-free.  Not as in free from cruelty.  But as in we don't charge for that cruelty.  Our cruelty is free.  You see where I'm going with this?  We tell people, those other guys, when they do unspeakably cruel things to animals, they pass the cost along to you, the customer.  But not us.  All the unspeakably cruel things we do to animals costs you absolutely nothing!  Because we value our loyal customers.

VP LEGAL:  I'm not sure we want to advertise the fact that we do unspeakably cruel things to animals.

VP MARKETING:  Here me out.  Maybe we do.  Maybe the forthright, direct approach is the way to go here.  People love getting value.  We tell them, you know how much it costs us to set up a lab, hire enough sadistic technicians, design all those unnecessary experiments, pay for the animals to test on, pay for having their carcasses hauled out afterwards, pay for the PR agency to come up with all those lies whenever there's a protest against us.  It aint cheap.  But though you, our valued customers, reap the benefits of all this unspeakably cruel animal testing, you don't pay a dime for it.  No, our cruelty is absolutely FREE.  What do you think?

VP LEGAL:  It could work.  Mention it at the meeting this afternoon.  Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

VP MARKETING:  Wait, isn't that one of our animal tests?  Heh heh heh!

VP LEGAL:  Heh heh heh!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The human animal

People abuse other animals, but we're even-handed in our abuse.
We do not discriminate on the basis of species, size or habitat.
Mammal or bird,
Whether they live on land, in water or sky,
It makes no difference.
We brutalize them all equally.
We inflict pain and misery with a blind eye to their differences,
And the same blithe unconcern for their sufferings.
We stun bolt farm animals, use meathooks on circus elephants, clubs on seals and harpoons on whales.  Our cosmetic tests blind rabbits and rub raw the skin of mice.  We've got bullets for deer, hooks for fish, leg traps for wolves,
And on and on.
Sure, we've granted a special status to dogs and cats who share our homes.  But the ones unfortunate enough to live without a name and collar get a quick burst of poison to send them to the hereafter.
It's safe to say there's not a species known to zoology that hasn't experienced some form of human savagery.
And still, regardless of country or faith, we still persist in thinking heaven awaits our coming.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free range chicken: the progressives' version of driving a BMW

"Normally when we fill our advertising with outrageous lies, we have to dress them up to make them believable.  But the beauty of this whole free range, humane treatment thing is our target audience wants to be lied to.  The wilder and more preposterous the lie the better.  We say our chickens have more space to romp around in, they live under sunny blue skies, every day is heaven on earth and, cha ching, our target audience will pay whatever we charge.  My term for our target audience is the "aspirational ethicals."  They consider themselves progressive, concerned about problems beyond their own personal self-interest.  This perceived altruism is a source of moral superiority for the aspirational ethicals and source of profit for us.  So what does our target audience look like?  You'll often see them dressed in earth preservation-themed tee shirts, carrying canvass shopping bags, world music smiles on their faces.  If there's a petition outside the store, they're all over it.  Clean air, clean water, homelessness, literacy -- where do they sign?  So when they hear about how animals are mistreated on factory farms, it disturbs them, not so much because the animal is suffering, though that's part of it, but because they're helping perpetuate that suffering and sensitive ethical people like themselves shouldn't do that.  That's why they're so susceptible to our bogus humane treatment pitch.  Most consumers are cynical.  They've got their defenses up, they're on the lookout for our lies.  But, as I said before, our aspirational ethicals want us to lie to them.  Please, tell me the chicken led a happy life.  I'll pay anything so long as you let me feel like I'm an ethical shopper.   Then when they're in our store, purchasing the free range chickens, not only do they get to feel like an ethical person who cares about the well-being of the animals they eat, other people get to see them acting ethical.  It's the progressive version of driving a BMW.  You'll see them standing outside the refrigerated section, picking up the chicken, saying something like, "I'm so glad this chicken had a happy life," in a voice loud enough for all the surrounding shoppers to hear them and be impressed by their social conscience.  People, the sky's the limit with the aspirational ethicals.  The profit margin on our free range products is through the roof.  To sum up, cha ching!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The World Pork Expo -- booth #21, the captive bolt stunning gun firing range

Booth #21, the captive bolt stun gun firing range

All work and no play?  No siree!  That's our motto at the World Pork Expo.  And we want it to be your motto too!  After a long day studying feed ratios and penning equipment, it's time to unwind a little.  Come test your marksmanship at the captive bolt stun gun firing range.  We ain't talking paper targets here.  The live piggies will keep you on your toes.  The way they wriggle and squirm they're slippier than a watermelon seed.  Just make sure to wear old clothes, 'cuz those buggers spurt a regular blood geyser.  Then after you clean yourself off, it's time to head to the bar and finish off the night with a viewing of America's funniest slaughterhouse bloopers.    The World Pork Expo starts June 3rd.  So mark your calendars and we'll see you here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pork Council's 2008 Commemorative Toy Tractor and Hog Carcass

Painstakingly crafted down to the smallest detail, the 2008 Commemorative Hog Carcass comes with, not one, but two separate captive bolt stun gun holes to the head -- the misfired shot that merely stunned the hog and the killshot that pierced its brain.  But the attention to detail doesn't stop there!  It also comes with eyes frozen with ungodly terror and legs spalyed out as the hog struggles in a desperate but futile attempt to escape.  Squeeze it and it emits a realistic, piercing scream of pre-slaughter terror.  You won't believe how life-like it is!  This true collector's item makes the perfect gift for all those hard-to-shop-for sadists and self-styled compassionate, animal loving progressives who look the other way when it's time for dinner.  The vibrant and decorative 2008 commemorative hog carcass comes with its own display base.  It's sure to liven up any room.  So order yours today.

Also collect these other popular hog figurines:

Hog dunked alive in boiling water
Hog confined in tiny crate
Hog carcass dangling from meat hook
Pile of hog carcasses (deluxe edition)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The hamburger hall of fame

Each year, The National Provisioner magazine inducts one food processor, one retailer and one food service establishment into the hamburger hall of fame.  I couldn't make time to attend the ceremonies, but I was able to find a transcript of one of the acceptance speeches.

Inductee is standing at the podium waiting for the applause to die down.

Inductee:  Thank you!  Thank you so much!  I'm humbled in your presence.  Who ever would have thought that a guy from Storm Lake, Iowa would be standing up here before you today about to join the greatest hamburger people of all time?  When you're a boy growing up you visualize this moment, but you never think it's possible.  I want to thank ... ho, boy, where to begin?  I want to thank National Provisioner for selecting me.  All the great hamburger lovers out there.  And most of all, a special heartfelt thank you to the cattle.  I'd never be here today if it weren't for you guys!  There's people out there called vegans who refuse to eat hamburgers.  No, I'm serious.  I'm not making this up.  They don't like the idea of cattle getting slaughtered.  But there's something these vegans don't understand.  The cattle I know aren't content to spend their lives standing around in a field grazing.  Unlike these vegans, cattle aspire to greatness.  They want to become hamburgers.  But not just any hamburger.  They want to be the best damn hamburgers in the world.  And you know what, fellows, it looks like your hard work and sacrifice has paid off.  I'm the one up here getting inducted into the hamburger hall of fame, but you guys are with me in spirit, every one of you.  I'm sorry, I'm getting a little weepy.  It's just that I feel so much gratitude.  Especially to you, Vernon.  Vernon, he was my favorite.  A big old black and white steer.  I can see him now, tail twitching, big old round eyes staring at me.  Old Vernon understood his calling.  He walked right up and took the stun bolt to the brain without even blinking.  Sniffle.  I told myself I wouldn't do this.  It's hard.  These guys mean so much to me.  I just want to say in closing the future of the hamburger is bright as ever.  We've got a great new generation of cattle coming up, preparing themselves to become the finest ground beef in the world.  Together we'll continue to make hamburgers that are deserving of this great honor bestowed upon us today.  Thank you and God bless!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Prop 2 redux: Humane Society says, "Let fly the corks!"

Friends take a bow.  Open the window and give out a whoop.  Let fly the corks ... No agribusiness titan can overlook the mandate:  people do not want their animals treated with wanton cruelty.
 So said the blog of Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, after the passage of Prop 2, which mandates that, starting in 2015, all chicken cages must be big enough so the chickens can turn around.  They'll even be able to extend their limbs.  Life is good.  Until it ends the same way it always has.  Which begs the question:  if a jolt of electricity followed by a knife across the throat doesn't qualify as wanton cruelty, what kind of cruelty is it?  Compassionate cruelty?  Cruelty-free cruelty?  "We can't acknowledge it without endangering our fundraising" cruelty?  So people do not want their animals treated with wanton cruelty.  Okay, fine.  But they still want their animals on menus and in refrigerators and on barbeques.  That's the problem, isn't it?  The narrowed spectrum of the debate.  Evil titans of agribusiness on one end, good people who insist animals have room to stretch their legs before the slaughter on the other.  Those are the two outer poles.  And veganism?  The possibility of eliminating the suffering of these animals by eliminating our consumption of animal products?  That's off in Siberialand.  If Wayne Pacelle mentioned any of that on Oprah, the sponsors would have all hightailed it for Judge Judy.  So Prop 2 passes, the chickens can stretch their legs before they're slaughtered and the Humane Society comes away with so much publicity I'm sure they've let fly a few corks of their own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Even if we can't, so what?

A country stained for so long by slavery and its aftermath has elected an African-American to lead it.  The outgoing president has finally justified his existence.  His torching of countries and ideals made possible the otherwise impossible election of Barack Obama.  So the world rejoices, as it should.  But it's hard not to look a little further down the ballot and see that here in California voters took it upon themselves to tell people they've never met, sorry, but marriage is for us, not you.  And then a little further down still the proposition to "end cruelty" by adding a few cubic feet of legroom to the pre-slaughter lives of pigs and laying hens won a resounding victory.  In the minds of the voters, the issue has been resolved.  The all-you-can-eat conscience-free buffet is now open for dinner.

People are still giddy from last night's seismic change.  Suggest to them that maybe the passage of Prop 2 is a setback instead of an improvement and they'll shake their heads in frustration.  How can anybody be thinking about farm animals during a time of economic upheaval, unjust wars, corporate pillaging and catastrophic climate change that some day soon will render all other issues moot?  Can you really be such myopic, single-issue obsessives?

The answer is yes, when that single issue is society's daily imprisonment, torture and slaughter of millions of sentient beings and when this daily slaughter takes place with barely detectable resistance from people who eagerly join the fight against every other injustice.  Talk to these people about a day when animals are no longer deemed human property to dispose of as we see fit and they'll tell you it's naive, self-indulgence by wide-eyed fools tilting at windmills.  "It'll never happen, I wish it would but it won't, no matter how much you hope it will," someone said to me a few days ago.

Hope?  Who said anything about hope?  Dan Cudahy, author of Unpopular Vegan Essays, wrote recently in a comment on the Animal Person blog,
I'm not going to get into my personal lack of hope about the future regarding animal rights ... because it has nothing to do with my advocacy/activism.  I advocate for what I think is right regarding sentient beings ... regardless of my doubts of ever achieving it.  ... I have no need for hope.
We're guided by what we see in front of us, and what we see is one species, which has the capacity to reason, using that reason to decide it's perfectly legitimate to torture and kill other species who cherish their lives just as we do, who fear just as we fear and suffer just as we suffer.

A proposition to put an end to our dominion over other species won't be on the next election's ballot.  It probably won't be on next century's ballot either.  So do we really truly hope to succeed?  Do we honestly think people will ever give up enslaving and slaughtering millions of their fellow animals each day?  What we hope is beside the point.  It must be stopped.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prop 2.5 -- Standards for Confining Tyson Executives

Tomorrow California will vote on Prop 2 -- standards for confining farm animals.
Prop 2.5 -- Standards for confining Tyson chicken executives will not be on the ballot.

Prop 2.5 states that the corner and window offices of all Tyson Foods executives shall be replaced by cages with dimensions proportionate to the size of the battery cages Tyson suppliers use to confine their laying hens.  Just as it has been deemed more cost-effective to confine multiple hens in the same cage, significant savings can be obtained by packing multiple executives in the same office/cage.  Therefore, each office/cage shall house no fewer than seven executives.  Much like chickens trying to establish a pecking order, executives are hierarchical by nature.  Executive VP's will attempt to dominate Senior VP's who will attempt to dominate ordinary VP's and so forth.  To prevent these executives from harming themselves as they attempt to assert dominance in such tight quarters, their pens, keys and other sharp objects should be removed prior to the executive being placed in the office/cage.  After all, an injured or damaged executive is far less productive than a healthy one.  Finally, as the intent of Proposition 2.5 is to ensure that the executives are treated humanely, it is mandated that each office/cage has sufficient space for the executives within to rotate freely on their swivel chairs, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.  Exceptions will be made for transport to meetings and feeding in the office cafeteria.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dialogue between HSUS and Tyson Foods about Prop 2

The first line of the Humane Society mission statement:  "Celebrating animals, confronting cruelty."

So how exactly did that confrontation against cruelty go?

HSUS:  Killing animals for human pleasure is cruel!
TYSON CHICKEN, ET AL:  And your point is?
HSUS:  Come on, throw us a bone here.
TYSON:  A wishbone or a drumstick?  Hee hee hee.
HSUS:  Hee hee hee
TYSON:  Are we bonding?
HSUS:  We're bonding.
TYSON:  So...
HSUS:  Look, we celebrate animals and confront cruelty.  That's the very first sentence in our mission statement.
TYSON:  It also says in your mission statement that you join with corporations on behalf of corporation-friendly programs.
HSUS:  No, the actual wording is we join with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly programs.
TYSON:  Stop splitting hairs.
HSUS:  Sorry.
TYSON:  I've got an idea.  How about if instead of confronting cruelty, you appear to confront cruelty?
HSUS:  Not bad.  As long as it appears that way to our donors.
TYSON:  Hee hee hee
HSUS:  Hee hee hee.
TYSON:  Okay, tell people you want a little more space for the chickens to move around in.  We could work with that.  We've been doing the same thing ourselves.  You should see our website.  We go on and on about humane treatment blah blah blah.  People eat it up.  It makes them feel less savage.  Great for sales.
HSUS:  We could put a proposition on the ballot!
TYSON:  There you go.  Win win.
HSUS:  Win win.
TYSON:  High five!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The self-contradicting lawn sign

I just walked by a sign on San Vicente that said, "Stop animal cruelty.  Yes on Prop 2."  I can only assume the sign maker was a fair-minded person who, after writing, "Stop animal cruelty," decided the opposing point of view deserved equal space.  So he added, "Yes on Prop 2."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

California social consciences -- I mean cruelty -- could be cured by Prop 2

The headline of an opinion piece by Bonnie Erbe in US News & World Report says, "California cruelty could be cured by Prop 2." Just like all the "progressive" bloggers I read, she thinks Prop 2 is a great and enlightened thing. "It's one of the most important social issues of our time," she says breathlessly. I think I see her point. When progressives socialize, they eat. When they eat, they talk. When they talk, they showcase their social consciences. But it's hard to showcase your social conscience while eating the flesh of a chicken who spent its brief miserable existence jammed in a tiny cage, its beak cut off with a hot blade, just so you could enjoy a hearty dinner. So what's a good progressive to do? They could swear from that moment forth to give up consuming the flesh of chicken and all other animals. But chicken tastes so darn good. And, besides, how can anyone be expected to punctuate a bon mot or a withering political observation with a bite of tempeh? No. Progressives need their chicken. So they move on to option number two. Make the cages bigger. That's it. Write a proposition and put it on the ballot. We demand bigger cages for the chickens. We demand that they have a few extra feet to move around in before their necks are slit open for our benefit. Now that the righteous indignation of the progressives has been codified in a proposition and the proposition's been put on the ballot, they need a good enemy. How about the malevolent corporations? These greedy money grubbers dare to keep the cages the same size? First Haliburton and now this! The righteous fury of the progressives is turned on full blast. They write op-ed columns. They denounce with fury. They sign petitions. They comment on blogs. The progressives will never rest until the chickens can take three more steps before smacking into the side of the cage during their still-brief, still-horrific life before the slaughter. Bonnie Erbe notes in her article that Prop 2 is passing by a margin of 7 to 1. "It's enough to restore one's faith in humanity," she says. No doubt she made that very same observation to a table full of fellow progressives while enjoying the most fabulous chicken cordon bleu imaginable. And then the progressives all proceeded as one to raise their glasses of merlot in a toast to the animals.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open mic night at the drive-thru -- Darly Olson, swine veterenarian, Hormel foods

Is this thing on?  How you all doing tonight?  Got a nice, juicy bacon cheeseburger?  Good.  I'm the guy responsible for the bacon part of it.  So the other day, one of those animal rights activists asked me if I saw the undercover videos of what goes on in our factory farms, you know, the ones where the hogs keep getting shoved alive into boiling water.  Yeah, I told her, I saw those videos.  I see 'em every day after work.  The entire staff gets together with a bowl of popcorn.  Hormel's funniest hog videos.  Beats the heck out of a water skiing squirrel, that's for sure.  Ha ha ha!  Thank you!  So, anyway, the activist starts yapping about how cruel it is to confine a hog in a crate so small he can't even turn around.  What are you talking about, sister, I says to her, if the hog had space to turn around he'd see the other hogs getting their throats sliced open and that would traumatize the poor hog.  We're very sensitive people at Hormel.  We don't to upset the poor little hog before we slaughter it!  Thank you, you guys are great!  Anyway, then this activist starts talking some more about the hog getting dumped in boiling water while it's still alive.  I says, that again?  You sure like to beat a dead hog, i mean horse.  H But seriously.  All this fuss about a few hogs.  The activist tells me hogs feel pain and they're smart too.  She's right, hogs are smart.  It's the hog loving people who are stupid.  We tell these people we adhere to animal welfare guidelines.  But who sets those guidelines?  The Pork Council.  That's us, numbnuts.  We're the ones who dip them in boiling water and you trust us to set our own animal welfare guidelines?  You're right, compared to people, these hogs are a bunch of Einsteins.  Thank you!  Thank you very much.  I'll be appearing live -- which is more than I can say for the hogs, ha ha ha -- I'll be appearing live at Taco Bell next week.  Thank you, I love you!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uhm, isn't this what they mean by the fox guarding the hen house?

Some animal welfare organizations claim victory when they pressure companies like McDonald's into agreeing to adhere to animal welfare guidelines.  They herald the victory with big, splashy mailers accompanied by solicitations for money to help them keep fighting the good fight.  The animal welfare guidelines they pressure companies into complying with are obviously set by well-respected animal advocacy organizations that have the animals' best interest at heart, right?  Let's see.  How about Jack-in-the-Box restaurants.  They say on their website:
Animal welfare guidelines and protocol for pork and beef suppliers established by the National Pork Board and the American Meat Institute.

Animal welfare guidelines and protocol for the poultry industry established by the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the United Egg Producers.

Animal welfare guidelines and protocol for dairy cattle established by the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation.
The only groups missing from this honor roll of animal advocacy organizations are the Association of Malfunctioning Throat Cutting Machines, the Institute of Sadistic Factory Farm Workers who Shove Still-living Hogs in Boiling Water for Pleasure and the Federation of Captive Bolt Stunners.

It's good to know that the National Milk Producers, the International Dairy Foods Association, the United Egg Producers, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Board and the American Meat Institute are out there on the front lines, fighting to protect animals from the savagery of factory farms.  How can I contribute money to the cause?

The chipmunk's digging little holes so kill it

My friend who lives in Michigan told me her neighbor Dave asked if her her cat could come over and kill a chipmunk that's been bugging him.  Bugging him?  Bugging him how?  Cursing at him?  Calling him names?  Telling lame jokes?  Playing its music late and loud the way Dave does?  No, apparently this chipmunk's been "digging holes."  And these holes are "eyesores."  So a guy who keeps a rusted lawn mower in his back yard and leaves his garbage cans on the street most of the week so the trash blows out and gets snagged by his neighbors' shrubs says a little chipmunk hole is an eyesore.  And he wants that chipmunk killed because of it.  He's an avid deer hunter so he'd probably do it himself if it weren't beneath him to kill anything he can't mount on his wall.  But what's the big surprise here anyway?  We're people, they're just animals -- ours to consume, test products on, kill for sport and kill because they "bug us."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A new oxymoron

There's a musician who has a website with an encyclopedic list of oxymorons.  He thought he had them all covered, from the George Carlin-made-famous military intelligence and jumbo shrimp to more obscure ones like job security and double solitaire.  But his list was incomplete.  He'd overlooked one created by a mind-numbingly twisted world that's set aside a place where living beings are herded and shoved into cages and starved and abused until, with eyes as full of terror and comprehension as any self-deifying human could ever be when confronted with the final moment, their lives are torn away from them.   It's this dark and cursed place, the factory farm, that provides us with an oxymoron which i passed along to the musician with the website.  He said it was a new one and added it to his list.  Humane slaughter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Extreme makeover -- KFC edition

According to Franchise Pundit...
KFC is shifting its design strategy to go more upscale ... hard plastic seating, bright primary colors and old menu boards have been replaced with high, open ceilings, glazed tile floors, padded booth seating, upscale tables and chairs -- all in a Tuscan color scheme of gold, rust, blue and brick red.
KFC is also concerned about the comfort and well-being of the chickens on their way to slaughter, so they've added a new set of poultry welfare guidelines:
KFC recommends that there be no crate damage that would allow injury to birds ... transport crates should not be over-filled and enough space should be provided to allow all birds to lie down.
KFC wants to be sure the birds are not only injury-free, but also well-rested, a peaceful little utopia in a crate, before they get electrically stunned and slaughtered.  Are the crates KFC uses to transport the well-rested chickens also done up in a Tuscan color scheme of gold, rust, blue and brick red?  The KFC poultry welfare guidelines don't specify.  But back to the exciting new interiors of the KFC restaurants.  
With inflation, we're asking people to spend more money on food and we want to give them the environment they want.  We want it to be a nice experience for them.
As a committed advocate of the humane treatment of animals, KFC has also enhanced the experience of the chickens.  
Our suppliers' stunning equipment should be maintained to confirm that birds are insensible prior to slaughter, and the time between stunning and slaughter should be limited to minimize any likelihood that a bird may regain consciousness prior to slaughter.
Nicer, more upscale restaurants, state-of-the-art stunning equipment, a color revamped menu board above the service counter, properly maintained slaughter equipment to confirm the birds are slaughtered quickly.  Looks like the colonel is working overtime to improve the KFC experience for everyone!  Life really does taste better at KFC!