Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Coming to a town meeting near you…

Hatched: Monday, December 13th, 2010

Activists take to local governments in pursuit of their agenda.


Brookline Town Meeting passes veal ban resolution


Brookline, Mass. —Brookline Town Meeting passed a resolution that asks grocers, restaurants, caterers and other food vendors to stop selling or serving crated veal  in a 163-4 vote.

According to petitioner Rachel Baras, many veal calves are separated from their mothers within a few days of being born and put into restrictive crates that do not allow them to easily lie down or move, in order to achieve a pale and tender piece of meat.

“The purpose [of Article 21] is to motivate food purveyors and consumers to think critically about what they’re buying and supporting just has they did with trans fats and smoking,” Baras said, referring to two previous Brookline bans. “You’ll be a part of a movement to improve lives. They are animal lives, but they are lives nonetheless.”

Baras received support from both the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Committee. Five states have passed measures outlawing crated veal calves, and similar legislation is pending in New York.

Don’t ban the bird!

Hatched: Friday, July 2nd, 2010

United States chickens are allowed to cross the pond over into Russia again.

Since January, Russia has blocked American chickens from being imported into the country. What a foul decision! Previously the largest importer of U.S. chickens, Russians have seen no trace of Yankee-born chickens during the past five months—and that’s a mighty long time to go without a good ol’ American chicken dinner.

Thankfully, this all changed last week when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with President Barack Obama in Washington, and the two scratched out an agreement to reinstate chicken entry into Russia. As outlined in this article, chicken travel into Russia will likely resume quickly, even within a matter of days.

It’s great news that American chickens have been cleared on Russian border control list. But, it does seem rather ironic that all this productive chicken-squawk between Medvedev and Obama happened while the two shared a hamburger lunch.

Where the cluck were the tasty drumsticks to celebrate this victory?

Why jail birds but not jail eggs?

Hatched: Friday, April 30th, 2010

You have to hand it to the Sandusky County sheriff.  Sensitive to his county’s budget concerns and ongoing budget cuts, the sheriff has put prisoners to work, cultivating their own food and saving taxpayers’ money in the process.  It started with an inmate vegetable garden. Now chickens are being added to the jail yard – and eventually the menu. But when asked if prisoners will be gathering eggs in the near future, the answer was anything but sunny side up.

According to the article, the word was the USDA won’t allow egg farming in the jail yard because of concerns about salmonella poisoning. Far be it for us to be uncompassionate about the health concerns of the incarcerated, but how might this differ from, say, any small-time operator selling eggs by the side of the road or at local farmer’s markets?

 In light of the locally raised food issue that is all the rage, does it really get any more local than this? Fact is, the prison yard spinach could be tainted with E. coli, right? As with any food product, just follow the precautionary steps for cleaning, preparation and consumption.

Let the sheriff keep the cuts coming and the prisoners engaged in productive rehabilitation…and let ’em raise their own eggs.

Warning to other states: don’t get “Propped 2.”

Perhaps that’s the message that will soon be coming out of the Golden State. Thanks to Proposition 2, which passed quite handily in 2008, California may soon be waving goodbye to jobs, state revenue and the sweet smell of economic development…as Nevada, Idaho and Georgia welcome egg farmers with open borders.

Last week, this Wall Street Journal article chronicled the latest developments of what over-regulation of the state’s farms could spell for California now that egg farmers are no longer welcome (at least under their current production methods) and are being wooed out of state to conduct business. Never mind that opponents of Proposition 2 warned of the potential damage to the state’s bottom line if the measure passed, but naysayers doubted it would actually happen. A resounding “We told you so…” sounds apropos right about now.

Some animal rights groups with radical agendas continue to push their way across the country advocating for similar farm animal housing restrictions. In response, perhaps now state leaders will seriously weigh the economic impact before making hasty decisions on farm policies based on emotional “feel-goods” instead of sound, proven science.

Rest assured the economic disaster that could ensue won’t feel good at all.

The food utopia that doesn’t exist

Hatched: Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

It should come as no surprise that there is yet another beat down on the social, economical and environmental impact of America’s so-called “factory farms” hitting bookshelves in time for your bird-less Thanksgiving and ham-free holidays. This time it comes from Jonathan Safran Foer, a strict vegetarian who discusses these issues at length in his new book “Eating Animals” and in this recent interview

It’s relevant to know that Foer is first and foremost a novelist — and a polarizing one at that. This is his first foray into what is being marketed as nonfiction.

Here is one outtake from the interview.

“We [consumers] pay very little at the cash register, but we pay and our kids are going to pay for the environmental toll, obviously the animals are paying, rural communities are paying. And for what? So that corporations can prosper. The huge agribusiness — companies make hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars, not in the name of feeding the world, but in the name of making something that’s so cheap that people become literally addicted to it.”

Fortunately, we as consumers have options and can choose our food preferences including how our food is produced (e.g., caged system eggs vs. free-range, organic vs. non-organic). Affordable is not synonymous with inferior just as expensive doesn’t hold exclusive rights to quality. And surely “good choices” are often what we, as individuals, deem to be good.

But what about the oxymoron that Foer doesn’t call out – like the organic corporation? What about the farmer who, for what it’s worth, is producing organic food but hasn’t ponied up for its marketing benefit? Before we champion some practices and relegate others as the scourge to all that is perceived as good, it would be wise to rethink our relationship to food in practical terms. 

Just image, for the sake of illustration and activist jubilation, that all eggs were free-range and organic – as well as four bucks a dozen. Imagine the public outcry and backlash, despite the “humane” practices or “perceived” health benefits. Imagine the 39.8 million Americans who, living in poverty, can barely afford the 99-cent variety and would otherwise go without this affordable source of protein. Then imagine stumbling on a recent study that says organic food is not healthier for you. What Biggie do we blame then? Big Organics? Big Media? Big Government? Big Activist? Or maybe, just maybe, the Big Dope in the mirror that’s perhaps the recipient of the Big Dupe?

Finding ways to feed the world – reaching the millions who are starving and malnourished with real farm-raised food – should trump any grandiose vision of an elitist food utopia pushed by those who have no idea what it means to go hungry or, for that matter, farm.

Mr. Foer has an opinion – and certainly he’s entitled to it. But as an acclaimed fiction writer, you can sense his difficulty discerning between his worldview (fact?) and his craft (fiction)…you know, the form that brought him to this dance in the first place.

Opinion masquerades as news at TIME. WTC?!

Hatched: Friday, October 23rd, 2009

TIME cover

If you read the TIME cover story from August, there’s a good chance you’re asking where’s the beef?

Welcome to the meatless edition.

Chew on this:  if you thought TIME, that so-called bastion of journalism, might be a forum for enlightenment…think again.

The story, which does quite the smear and scare job on the simple joys of being a carnivore, doesn’t resemble news reporting at its most basic level. It fails – miserably we might add – in providing an objective and unbiased report. It’s not just disappointing to supporters of livestock agriculture, it’s insulting to the “news” magazine’s readers.

But don’t take our word for it.

The author himself admits that the story reflects his own personal judgment and perspective in attempt to be “part of the conversation” with the public on this topic (listen to the interview with Bryan Walsh on AgriTalk radio). Translation: what amounts to nothing more than a personal blog entry for most is now worthy of making the cover of TIME.

Traditionally this type of heavy-handed “advocacy journalism” is saved for the editorial and op-ed pages of any credible publication and is identified as such. Clearly the rules have changed at TIME (as Walsh suggests), and sadly the hapless public is none the wiser…until now.

So take solace – and be completely outraged – that the TIME cover story on “The Real Cost of Cheap Food” is just one man’s personal opinion.