If you missed Oprah this week she dedicated an entire show to How We Treat The Animals We Eat . This all started with an article written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He shared his experience of growing up on a farm, how he eats meat, and how he’s upset with the way animals are being raised in cruel conditions. Oprah presented this information on both sides of the story so the viewer could make conscious choices. Are you making conscious choices?
Information was presented about how veal calves, pregnant pigs and egg laying hens are raised. In each case Lisa Ling visited two farms showing two different ways to raise these animals. Free range chickens that were released to roam around the farm or tightly caged chickens. I thought Lisa was going to lose her lunch at the farm with over filled cages with chicken covered in their own feces. She visited farms with free roaming veal calves that could nurse from their mother outside and pregnant pigs also roaming around a large farm nursing their piglets. Then the starkly different tightly crated calves and pigs that couldn’t move. By not move I mean they could get up and down but that’s it.
Both types of farmers defended their positions. The main point of contention in California is Proposition 2 which will be voted on in November. This would require farmers to increase cage sizes for egg laying hens, pregnant pigs and veal calves. The new regulations would require cages to be large enough to allow these animals to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and to be able to fully extend their limbs without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens. If passed it would go into effect in 2015 giving farmers time to make these changes.
Each side sited humane and economic arguments. Farmers raising caged animals state that people won’t pay the prices for products raised free range. Most of us don’t live in California but if we vote with our purchases the prices for these items will decrease. The bigger the demand the more farmers will shift to these ways of raising animals.
I don’t know about you but why would anyone want to eat meats and eggs that were raised in these cruel conditions. These animals need to be given antibiotics to counter balance the gross conditions. Half of all the antibiotics made in the US each year given to these animals as quoted in Skinny Bitch. Check out that book if you really want to read what these conditions are like for raising and slaughtering the food we eat. It will change your feelings about what you eat.
So what about you? Do you seek out organic meats and free range eggs or just pick up what is on sale? Do you go to local farms that do not raise animals in these cruel conditions or warehouses where you have no idea where their pork and beef came from? If you already purchase those free range eggs, wonderful. Now find out about the rest of what you are eating. Ask the butcher where the products came from and how they were raised. If they don’t know search your area for a store that knows. It’s up to all of us to make conscious choices about the food we eat. Are you?