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Old 11-26-2011, 12:12 PM   #1
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Local/Sustainable? I want Ethical.

Once upon a time, I never thought of what I ate or worried from where it came. Over the years, I've seen several friends come down with sickness and have buried a few too early. I suppose that is the way it goes as years pass. I've also been more in-tune with the news and become increasingly concerned by what I see.

I was fortunate to spend summers with grandparents who had gardens and some livestock. We knew where our food came from because we grew it, raised it, or collected it. (Of course, I had no idea how fortunate I was at the time...especially when I was sent to muck a stall or collect eggs at the crack of dawn.)

Now it seems that I hear of food being tainted whenever I turn on the news. What has disturbed me most is that I have felt that most of the "food tainted outbreaks" could have been avoided by safer practices. I mean, really....how do cantaloupes get tainted? Due to the fuel savings, etc., I've started buying more locally. I can also fool myself into thinking that, when I buy locally, people care more about their "neighbors."

I'm happy when the products are from sustainable sources. I'd rather grow it myself, but time, space, and ability just is not feasible. Besides: I love my job, which would not give me time to mill the wheat I grew. Then, this past week, I saw something that made me want to pack up and run away to whatever equivalent of Green Acres would be in this day and age.

It was the video made by the Mercy for Animals organization of a huge egg-production plant. After the video was released, major clients of the Sparboe Facilities company, which included McDonalds, Target and major grocery chains, dumped the company as a supplier. [YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO, BUT DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK UNLESS YOU HAVE A STRONG STOMACH AND CAN TURN OFF YOUR EMOTIONS. IT HAS HAUNTED ME FOR DAYS.] The information from the video can be read HERE.

Several things bother me about this story:

First, how can anyone treat any creature like this? Yes, I've seen pockets of all kinds of abuse with both people and animals, but how can this happen on such a wide-scale without anyone knowing?

Secondly, I can totally see how outbreaks of things like Samonella can occur in these conditions. In fact, I now wonder why anyone is still alive after seeing that video. I've always wanted my own chickens - now more than ever.

Third, I know the Mercy for Animals organization has an agenda other than just helping animals. Due to the fact that Target and McDonalds immediately stopped doing business with the supplier when this was seen, did MfA really need to name their link "McDonald's Cruelty?" I shop at large grocery chains at times, and likely bought eggs from a source such as this. *shudders* Unless they can prove that McDonalds knew of such conditions for the egg source, it really is not okay.

I'm not completely sure of the purpose of this post. I suppose it is that I want safe, sustainable food. I am willing to pay more for it. And I know that I will never stop eating meat, but I want ETHICAL treatment of animals and, again, I'm willing to pay for it even if it means that I will eat less of it.

Is healthy, sustainable food really too much to ask for?

~Kathleen



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Old 11-26-2011, 01:43 PM   #2
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Now you understand why I bought my own laying hens. They have free range of 50 acres (but only roam on about .5 of that), an 8 ft x 10 ft coop (but decided they prefer the 20 x 40 ft barn), eat all kinds of goodies (grains, leftovers, etc.), and all have names. Judging by the egg production and how they come running when I go out to check on them during the day, I am guessing they are very happy chickens. I might be wrong on that, perhaps they'd rather be in little boxes and, well, anyway. I think they are happy. The eggs, if I am the judge, are amazing.
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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Now you understand why I bought my own laying hens. They are very happy and the eggs are amazing.
I have always wanted my own laying hens as the eggs are amazing and I knew what they would be fed. Unfortunately, my neighborhood has code against it.

What I never knew was that such horrible conditions could occur in this day and age on such a large scale basis. Do they not have health/government checks? Are there no laws about such things?
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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I have always wanted my own laying hens as the eggs are amazing and I knew what they would be fed. Unfortunately, my neighborhood has code against it.
I think it is unfortunate that muncipalities have by-laws against having laying hens...people should lobby their representatives to get that changed. It is great having a source of protein. We have a huge garden as well, but having the "girls" (and Cocky Rocky) adds another dimension.
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:11 PM   #5
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I've seen enough "edited" newsclips to know that I wouldn't be able to stomach the link.

There's something wrong about egg production at that scale... something Matrix... given that eggs are like batteries... capsules for recharging life.

My brother's family has a coop. The daily eggs are a side benefit. My young niece has a remarkable perception for the feelings of other people; she wants to become a veterinarian. The eggs I buy are from a local farm (a large operation to be sure, and not one I've personally vetted).
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:40 PM   #6
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According to the American Egg Board athttp:/www.incredibleegg.org there are roughly 75 billion eggs produced in the US. each year.

75 BILLION EGGS. every single year.


In just the USA.

The eggs must have a price at the store that will allow people to buy them without breaking their budget.

They must be clean and unbroken.

That's 205 million eggs per/day.

4 million for each state, every day on an average.

With 14 million people in Just NYC, imagine how many eggs are consumed each day there.

The logistics of raising enough chickens to accomplish this, is STAGGERING.

Literally from egg to chick to layer to egg to table.

The same numbers apply for beef and all other animal based foods we eat.

100 thousand cows are killed each year to supply beef to only the USA.

I know how many people per/sq mile that CAN be supported, but my opinion is that we have about 10 times that many now, if the food source animals were to be raised humanely and using compassionate methods. Otherwise, the costs would have to be rolled into the purchase price.

Who would buy a dozen eggs at $25 per/dozen?

I love animals. I really do. That video made my stomach turn, but, and it's a HUGE "BUT", how do you raise enough chickens to produce 205 million eggs per/day, and do so in a manner that will allow the eggs to be profitable at less than $2 per/dozen? If you can answer that, you can become an instant multi-millionaire by instructing the egg producers in the USA.

If all types of treatment that are considered cruel to animals were suddenly eliminated, about half the worlds "city" populations would starve to death in a month or two.

Isn't murdering an animal to eat it and use its carcass cruel in its very definition? How do you KILL a living, breathing animal without it being something the animal is terrified by and hurt by?

Committed vegans have a pretty good idea. They harm no animals via their hunger. Most use no animal parts for other purposes either. Good for them!

It seems like an impossible problem as long as people are raised from birth to enjoy eating other creatures.

Especially when you pack millions of those people into each City.
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:14 PM   #7
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I think I read that a chicken requires 2.5 sq ft of coop space. That's not a lot of space. A chicken lays eggs from about 6 months to 5 - 7 years of age. So, where do the battery farms get their laying hens? You can't tell me they are raising day-olds.

Having a hen or two in the backyard was the norm for many years. Chickens aren't hard to keep and keeping them is not expensive. Many people get "ready to lay" hens in the spring and then butcher them in November.

Sadly, 80% of the population in Canada now live in cities or urban areas. I'm glad to live in the country, but I must say being in the minority makes it tough because urbanite "needs" drive by-laws and make it harder for people who want to be self-sustaining to do so. A friend lives in a village that was "sucked into" a city (decision made in Toronto). She can't have chickens, even though her lot backs onto a farmer's field. She is now in the "city" (she didn't opt to move to the city--the city moved to her). Is that fair--no. But, the "city" can now get the property taxes she pays and charge a higher mill rate than what she paid when she lived in the village...living in the country is a lifestyle choice. Being forced to be part of a city is not fair for those who prefer the country life--and having city-folk move out to the country who try and impose their perceptions of what should/should not be allowed is also not fair. People in the country keep chickens, have cows/pigs, ride their horses on the road and don't "scoop," and spread manure on their fields. That's how it is. Personally, I like to buy my beef, pork and lamb from the farmers who live in my neighborhood.
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:19 PM   #8
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I buy my eggs from a co-worker who has laying hens. A dozen every two weeks. If I'm baking or Shrek wants hard boiled, I go to the store and pick eggs that are produced closest to Missoula. Usually Hutterite eggs.
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathleen View Post
...I know that I will never stop eating meat, but I want ETHICAL treatment of animals and, again, I'm willing to pay for it even if it means that I will eat less of it.

Is healthy, sustainable food really too much to ask for?
I feel much the same as you. But what I find even more appalling is that some of these bad eggs (pun intended) get cited time and time again for ethical violations, and yet somehow remain in business. Furthermore, you have states like New York that are trying to pass laws to prohibit cameras in farm operations. I see nothing to be gained by such legislation except to allow bad farming practices to be covered up. It's disgusting.

I'm a meat eater and always will be. I have no problem with raising animals for food, provided those animals live a natural and healthy life up until the point they are slaughtered (versus living in their own filth and being force fed questionable food products and antibiotics). I grew up around farms, and I've seen animals put down without suffering.

Our family has given up completely on mass-produced meat and dairy. We've been buying food from nearby farms, as well as a co-operative for the past couple of years. One of the co-op's mandates is that their meat and dairy sources come from local farms that are regularly inspected by co-op representatives. Some of the things they look for is mistreatment of animals and unsanitary conditions. It does cost more. I pay around $4 a dozen for eggs, and meat is not on our table as frequently as it used to be (and certainly in much smaller portions), but it's all good.
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Old 11-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #10
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In Ontario, the regulations are such that I can't sell eggs (even if I wanted to do so) without grading them (and I think I'd have to candle them). The Ontario government put regs in place a few years ago stopping people from selling home-baked goods at farmer's markets unless made in a commercial, inspected kitchen. I can't buy milk from the farmer.
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