Farmers markets, consumer warnings and political scandal in your egg-recall update! »
The Humane Society wants us to know that eggs from the farmers market can come from hens treated just as terribly as hens that supply eggs for supermarkets. Many of you are probably like, “duh,” but before I became vegan, I was unaware of this sort of thing. I even assumed “organic” automatically meant humane! But it’s just not so. Side note: that was actually why I initially became vegan, because if you don’t go directly to the farm, you just don’t know how the animals are treated. But I can’t be running around on farms everyday just so I can eat omelets! I’ve got work to do and dance moves to perfect!
Last week, the Humane Society sent letters to California’s farmers markets asking them to forbid the sale of eggs from caged hens: “To increase food safety, improve animal welfare, and to meet the expectations of their consumers, we hope California’s farmers markets will stop allowing their well-earned ‘halo effect’ to extend to companies and products that don’t deserve it.” LGBT Compassion regularly protests the live-chicken vendors at Heart of the City Farmers Market—did you know that these hens aren’t protected by California’s poultry slaughter laws?
Of course cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean the hen can go outside or anything silly like that, but they generally* do have enough room to spread their wings and actually move in general. And as the Humane Society points out, “cage-free” also means safer, according to the last 10 studies on the subject.
In other egg-recall news, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says consumer notification systems in food-recalls are plain janky. She says it’s imperative for their health that people get up-to-date information and they should be notified within 24 hours of any recall. I’m going to have to cosign this movement as I was talking to friends just last weekend who had heard jackshit about the egg recall. Dang it! I love most of my friends! I don’t want them to die from Salmonella!
Does anyone else remember the E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006? When I went to Whole Foods around then, every single bag of spinach had an E. coli warning—have they done that with the eggs? I don’t know, I don’t buy eggs, but I doubt it. And you know why? Politics!
That’s right, in the world of food safety, corruption abounds. A survey released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that almost half of the scientists and inspectors at the federal agencies in charge of food safety say big business and congress has interfered in their work. This was a problem under the Bush administration and apparently there’s been little improvement under Obama. From the LA Times:
"What we found is that action is needed to curtail interference in science, both political and that driven by the private sector," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We have two very different agencies giving very identical responses, and this suggests the need for broad reform."
Inspectors responding to the survey reported pressure from their own agencies to make problems disappear and to help offending companies remain open even when there are clear violations. So basically, we’re screwed! Business over safety, that’s the American way.
Speaking of business and corruption, Grist had a good piece yesterday about the crazy egg empire of Jack DeCoster. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, one of the egg factories subject to the recall, and according to Grist writer Tom Philpott, he’s “one of the most reviled figures in industrial agriculture.” DeCoster views violating food safety laws as no big deal, and paying fines as another part of doing business. OMG this guy rules! Wright County Egg is only the ninth-largest egg producer in the U.S. BUT! DeCoster may very well be numero uno of the egg market! BUT! It’s very confusing! Philpott tries to get to the bottom of it:
[There are] four large egg producers—DeCoster Family Farms (Wright County Egg), Hillandale Farms, Ohio Fresh Eggs, and Quality Eggs of Maine—which [are] controlled by or have extremely intimate links with Jack DeCoster. The Cal-Maine list of the largest U.S. egg producers puts the hen flocks of DeCoster Family Farms, Hillandale, and Ohio Fresh at 9 million, 14 million, and 7.6 million, respectively. It doesn’t list Quality Egg of Maine, but the Boston Globe says it keeps 5 million hens…. [T]hat amounts 35.6 million hens under management by companies owned by or tightly linked with DeCoster—more than 10 percent of the nation’s total flock (340 million).
Philpott is not done yet but I’ll keep you updated. God bless his tireless soul!
I know our vegan readers don’t buy eggs, but many of our friends and loved ones do. One thing we can do is get them hip to the farmers market jive and tell them to always ask egg vendors if the hens are cage-free, and to ask farmers market organizers if they allow eggs from caged hens. I find that even when omnivores don’t care how animals are treated, many of them are über-scared of food-borne illnesses so the increased danger caused by small cages is a good thing to make them aware of. Everybody now: BABY STEPS!
*This is an update. Cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean they can spread their wings or anything superfluous like that. FYI.
Scandals, stupidity, and some really clever sheep in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Pilot whales in the Straits of Gibraltar! This was the only calf in the small pod, don’t you want to give it a hug? YES OF COURSE YOU CAN’T HUG A WHALE. But in my Lisa-Frank-colored childhood dreams, this whale and I would be pals and it would love hugs, so there. [picture by Rory Moore via the Telegraph]
Things for a vegan to do!
Tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 14, Harvest Home Sanctuary is having a work party! Go put together “Harvest Home Hay Boxes” and “Barndog Beds” from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., eat veggie dogs, and feel virtuous. Email to RSVP and get directions.
On Thursday, Aug. 19 the Asian Art Museum is celebrating the drunken dishes of Shanghai cuisine with chefs Nei Chia Ji and Martin Yan. They will be making vegetarian goose with been curd and rice wine; pickled cucumber in Huang Chiew wine; and some chicken thing no one cares about because duh. It’s the AAM’s bimonthly MATCHA event, so there’ll be a cash bar, music, and you can make your own art, too—but your Vegansaurus is mainly excited about the food, obviously. It costs $10 and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. in San Francisco.
Things for a vegan to read!
Let’s look at horrible food news! Valley Meat Co. of Modesto, Calif. (our neighbor to the east!) recalled 1 million pounds of frozen ground beef this week! It had been produced in late 2009 and early 2010 and has already made seven people sick with E.coli poisoning! NPR did some math and figures about 2,300 cows/steers were killed to make 1 million pounds of ground beef—wonder where they all came from? We’ll probably never know! Still, according to a CDC report, 17 percent of “food-borne illness outbreaks reported to the government” are caused by dead birds in your kitchen, compared to the 16 percent caused by dead cow and 14 percent by “leafy vegetables.” Although of course leafy vegetables carry no deadly bacteria or viruses inside of themselves, unlike say chickens or cows. Your tiny baby children are sick because they’ve been eating salmonella-ful dry pet food! Maybe these statistics will decrease a bit, as Ohio farmers have agreed to give some of their food-animals (“livestock,” if you will) a little breathing room.
Ben and Jerry’s, so full of lies. You really can’t trust anyone who uses that font. Shockingly, their “all-natural” label includes ingredients like dextrose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, none of which are officially “natural.” The New York Times, another bastion of truth, notes a trend in farmers seeking organic certification, motivated primarily by the money. Motivated by being awesome, a former Mad Man is working to make Meatless Mondays a national habit. Even this crazy “barbecue whisperer” who calls himself Meathead Goldwyn has decided to eat vegetarian for a month, and Mario Batali plans to write a vegetarian cookbook, inspired by the “beautiful people!” [sic] of Italy. Maybe they’d enjoy this easy-peasy recipe for carrot bacon!
New Zealand really is as full of sheep as you’ve heard. Sheep, however, are much smarter than is generally assumed. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that sheep living in Matamata, NZ, have moved into the Lord of the Rings hobbit homes set. [image by Tara Hunt, via Laughing Squid]
We’re eating very well in the Bay Area these days. There’s the fancy-pants, super-delicious tofu of Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery (take a tour!); the second Garden Fresh—vegan Chinese!—in Palo Alto got a good review in the Chronicle; and Sutton Cellars in San Francisco makes only vegan wines and vermouth that SFoodie really enjoyed.
The SF SPCA won its lawsuit to claim $500,000 for its hearing dog program, despite its sort of not having one—it’s all very strange, as SF Weekly explains. The Humane Society’s lawsuit against Olivera Egg Ranch, originally filed in 2008, will go ahead! Olivera Egg Ranch is a massive polluter (not to mention chicken-torturer on a grand scale) and was fined $143,057 in 2009 for “destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property.” On Thursday, defendants in the Bushway Packing trial entered not-guilty pleas to misdemeanor and felony counts of animal cruelty. Even Canada’s not perfect: No Country For Animals is a new documentary about the country’s “deplorable record on animal welfare,” and you can watch it online.
Despite its best intentions, the Times hosted a decent discussion of the ethics of catch-and-release fly-fishing, including a biologist who said, straight-up, that it’s shitty because fish feel pain. Some other biologist contradicted that “theory,” but Wikipedia contradicts him, and Vegansaurus says, just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it, cowboy. Discover magazine wonders how many orangutan there would be in the world if the Victorians hadn’t been so keen on shooting everything with a heartbeat. To wit: the Galapagos giant tortoises didn’t get a Latin name until 300 years after their “discovery” by Charles Darwin because they were so delicious and easy to kill. Hey Michigan! Your private stock of non-native, feral shootin’ hogs—upward of 5,000!—have broken free from your game ranches and are rampaging wild across the lands, eating fawns and carrying pseudorabies. Michiganders with hunting licenses are encouraged to shoot them. Way to go, guys!
What ho! it’s this week’s charming, informative link-o-rama! »
Fulvio Bonavia, “Untitled”, A Matter of Taste, 2008
Eggplant shoes! This is from Beautiful/Decay magazine’s three-part series on food art. Not all of it’s vegan, of course, but a lot of it is pretty amazing. I especially like Han Bing’s “Walking the Cabbage” photos. More useless footwear are Mini Melissa, a new line of Vivienne Westwood for Melissa vegan shoes for babies. I am filling out adoption papers RIGHT NOW to acquire the babies to fill these fucking adorable shoes, $100-per-pair price be damned.
Oh my gosh, it’s here! The third East Bay Vegan Bakesale is here! Tomorrow, Saturday June 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Issues—20 Glen Ave. at Piedmont Avenue—in Oakland! Selling vegan deliciousness from Cinnaholic, Fat Bottom Bakery, Pepples Donuts, Sugar Beat Sweets, Violet Sweet Shoppe, Wholesome Bakery, and lots of non-professional volunteers!
After hitting up the EBVBS, head over to Harvest Home Sanctuary for the summer open house! There’ll be guided tours, a presentation by author Mark Hawthorne, and vegan snacks. HHS asks that you please register for the event, whereupon you’ll receive driving directions.
PETA and the San Francisco Vegetarian Society have combined forces to leaflet in front of the KFC at 4150 Geary Blvd. at 6th Avenue. Be there on Sunday, June 27 from noon to 1 p.m.; materials provided by PETA; lunch at Golden Buddha to follow.
On Monday, June 28, attend “Perspectives on Liberation and Oppression,” with former prisoner (SHAC 7!) and animal-rights activist Andy Stepanian. The event will be held at Station 40, at 3030B 16th St. at Mission Street in San Francisco, and begins at 7 p.m.
Articles and such for vegan reading!
Let’s look at this week’s restaurant reviews in the Chronicle! Well well well, Michael Bauer enjoyed his meals at Gracias Madre! Possibly more than your Vegansaurus has (thus far). Can you imagine!
Check this out: tacos de vegetales from Taco Station in Los Angeles. Did you know that there are many delicious AND traditional (YES, TRADITIONAL) Mexican recipes that are vegetarian and/or vegan? LA Weekly does. [photo by Dommy Gonzalez, LA Weekly]
Hey here’s some news: eating meat will kill you! Possibly sooner than you think—the South Gate Meat Co. recalled almost 40,000 pounds of ground beef this week because of E. coli contamination! It also apparently makes you fucking stupid, as evidenced by the National Pork Board’s lawsuit against the TOTALLY FAKE Radiant Farms’ canned unicorn slogan: “the new white meat.”
It’s fun to make fun of animals, right? Check out these lemurs who live in Whipsnade Zoo in England: they’re totally playing soccer, just like the World Cup! Look, they even have red cards! HA HA ANIMALS SO FUNNY!
Let’s take the edge off with the best fucking story of the week: Mel, one of the “bait dogs” rescued from Michael Vick’s compound of death, has been adopted; he now has a loving family, a new best dog friend, and a stuffed monkey he uses as a “security blanket.” You’re crying right now, aren’t you? Well, read the article and then try to hold back the tears. OK, how about this story about Oscar the cat, who got “bionic” back legs after someone (the article doesn’t say!) hit poor Oscar with a combine harvester.
The New York Times Magazine's big feature is called “Tuna’s End” and probably of interest to those of us who give a fuck about not ruining the world’s oceans. I can’t give you any further sardonic commentary because I haven’t had time to read it yet.
Meat fights, meat deaths, milk pants, murder and MORE in today’s link-o-rama! »
It’s funny when gross people things affect animals! Especially when the animals behave in a manner that reminds people of themselves! HA HA HA. [Image from the Daily Telegraph]
Fun-times vegan-related events!
Anyone going to the Maker Faire this weekend? It runs Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Mateo County Event Center, and it looks intense. Tickets cost $25 per day but probably it’s worth it for the food events alone—classes on kimchi, spicy pickles, tofu, hooch, and “growing sprouts and baby greens with and without soil.” Skip the bacon, butchery and butter classes and make it a super-productive vegan weekend.
Have you made reservations for Millennium’s Southern Comfort Dinner? It’s on Monday, what is wrong with you? Anyway, there are other fancy/fun/delicious events happening at Millennium soon if you miss this.
Ultra-veg/etari/an(?) spokesdude Paul McCartney will play at AT&T Park on July 10, tickets for which will go on sale on Monday, May 24. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
News items of varying degrees of interest!
"Famous" "person" Bethenny of The Real Housewives of New York, official naked lady for PETA, has an entire "vegetarian" recipes section on her website. I don’t believe she eats, personally, but it’s fun to pretend she cares about anything besides her “personal brand,” right?
Danger of an E. coli outbreak caused the recall of 53,000 pounds of ground beef this week. Whoops, we have no regard for animal or human safety! And yet nearly 74 percent of federal food subsidies go toward “meat” and “dairy” production. No, it makes sense.
Breaking news! The government is moving Plum Island to Kansas! “Why would a highly secure (?) facility that studies livestock diseases on a remote isle move to the absolute center of the American livestock industry, where one loose spore of Manufactured Anthrax-AIDS-Cancer-Foot & Mouth disease could wipe out the nation’s entire stock of cow anus parts used to make Fast Food Hamburgers?… It’s a great idea, if you want to kill off about 95 percent of Americans by poisoning their Extra Value Meals with weapons-grade Human Brucellosis-HIV.” That’s your agriculture, motherfuckers.
Oh and did we mention that pesticides have been linked to ADHD? And not like that inoculations = autism lie—for real. Not that all organic farmers are fucking angels, Guinness McFadden of McFadden Farm in Mendocino County, animal-torturer.
See, it’s the repeated murder of animals as a job that can turn a person criminally violent. Sorry, workers on slaughterhouse kill floors! Your job is ruining you. Science also says that eating bacon on the regular will in fact kill the hell out of you, a lot quicker than, say, bacon on the never. Excuse me, I have to take an extra-strength vitamin DUH.
When even the Daily Mail is calling out McDonald’s U.K. for purchasing chickens who had shitty, nightmare lives in Argentina, one might think a change is on the horizon. For example, Mario Batali, who loves preparations of dead pig more than life itself, now advocates Meatless Mondays. On the other hand, two Portland bros got into a fistfight over the origin of the breed of pigs they had killed and were cooking for some kind of gruesome contest. Seriously, all you need to see are the hilarious douchey photos, as reading the article may send you into a fit of rage. Because they were fighting over THE DEAD PIGS. Animal-husbandry chauvinism, fuck yeah.
Now what about Trader Joe’s—is it really an “eco-friendly” company? The Utne Reader feels conflicted on the issues (read: negative). Our other favorite grocery chain is now expanding its vegan options! But this stuff won’t be labeled “vegan” because that word’s for terrorists, so look for "Health Starts Here" signs on the new products instead. Also they’re endorsing that “Engine 2 Diet,” which according to your Vegansaur Steve is “Skinny Bitch for the hegan set,” so hooray! but also UGH. No, nothing is ever good enough, ever.
Especially not MILK SHORTS, meant to be worn while you sleep to decrease the visibility of your cellulite, you fat fuck. Abbie is disgusted and SO ARE WE. If you have insanator links that we should feature here, send them in, please.
Wonkabout features “healthy” restaurants in D.C., meaning “places that serve lots of tofu and vegetables.” Generalizations aside, they all sound pretty good.
More locally, law enforcement officials have trained a “marine mammal team”—comprising two sea lions and a dolphin—to both spot “suspicious divers” and apprehend them using a leg cuff. What is this I don’t even.
In non-manipulative awesome-nature news, coral larvae bodily listen (as in, with more than just ear-style parts) for places to colonize, and choose where to go based on positive sounds, like whatever the sounds of a solid, secure reef are. Of course, people fucking around in the oceans are ruining all this for them. Less depressingly, red-eyed tree frogs conduct bum-vibration duels in the nighttime. The aggression of tiny, adorable animals is so hard to take seriously.
If you wanted to buy produce just like Annie Sommerville of Greens, 7x7 wants to help you. Maybe you could buy similar stuff from Hayes Valley Farm—it’s flourishing these days. Or construct your own rooftop garden, like these dudes in Chicago. Former Greens chef Deborah Madison has a new cookbook out, called Seasonal Fruit Desserts. Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is genius and I fully expect this fruit venture to be excellent as well.
70 percent of Hamburgers are possibly unsafe, definitely disgusting »
There’s a saying that you should always release bad news on Friday, when no one is paying attention. And when you have REALLY bad news, save it until the end of the year. And when your news is that 70 percent of the nation’s hamburgers, served by McDonald’s and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), are unsafe and possibly filled with E. coli, even after getting pumped full of ammonia? Then you save that sheeze till the last day of the decade.
A New York Times report, politely titled "Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned" (translation from journo-speak: WTF BEEF IS SO FUCKED), reveals that the ammonia process used by Beef Products, Inc. is not only letting E. coli slip through, but that the U.S. Department of Agriculture believes that the process is safe enough to exempt Beef Products, Inc. from inspections. So it’s not only unsafe but the government is taking their word for it because they triple pinky swear promise that it’s OK and corporations never lie, especially not in their own self-published reports.
The idea behind the process is to scoop up fatty slaughterhouse floor leftovers (you know, the kind they usually throw away or dump in dog food), separate the protein from the fat in a centrifuge, squeeze it through tubes, spray it with ammonia, then flash-freeze and compress the final goop. If everything worked, the company believes that the end product will be fully sanitized and free of contaminants like E. coli and salmonella. Normally, slaughterhouse scraps are especially prone to contaminants, but the resulting filler meat is so cheap and “safe” that it’s good enough for McDonald’s and the NSLP.
Forget for a minute if the process works or not. Even if it was 100 percent perfect, YOU’RE EATING MEAT SOAKED IN AMMONIA. Seriously, who cares if it works or not. Nothing I eat needs to be soaked in ammonia to kill it even more after it’s already dead.
And after watching the clip above of the Beef Products, Inc. factory tour, I’m no longer worried about whether or not the American public will accept lab-grown meat as hamburger filler. They will. Squeeze it through tubes into flash-frozen pink slabs and no one will bat an eyelash.
SF Green Festival, meatball awards, the miracle of birth, delicious local tofu, Czech dumplings, urban gardening and more in this week’s link-o-rama!GE »
Win a copy of 500 Vegan Recipes! Hurry up and do it by Tuesday, Nov. 17!
The clever fuckers at the California Milk Advisory Board will be filming their latest “Happy Cows come from California” commercials in New Zealand. Torture the local cows, but don’t let the state benefit from production fees: such lovely people they are.
Local chefs discover that tofu is not an abomination against haute cuisine. Color us shocked. And hungry for samples!
Another poor review of Eating Animals, from another Gawker associate. Shut up, Joshua David Stein, you are much too pleased with yourself and your criticism.
For the strong-stomached, the birth of an elephant. Miracles: kinda gross! This goes for every human who records the births of their own young as well.
And in New Zealand, a shark gave birth to four live sharklets, thanks to the intervention of another shark? Freaky, gross, amazing.
Oh delicious: a recipe for Czech fruit dumplings! Yes PLEASE.
Filling closets with clothes for yourself is acceptable human behavior; filling a closet with matching clothes for your cat is NOT. I recognize we’re all guilty of anthropomorphism to some degree, but this not OK.
Watch out, sickies: you can pass on the swine flu to your companion animals.
King of Jerkoffs A. Bourdain says humans are allowed to eat animals because they are “smaller and stupider” than us. Ari Solomon says, intelligence is as intelligence does, bright boy. (Although we should note, Mr. Solomon, that “stupider” is an inflected comparative and most certainly a word.) (Grammarsaurus!)
More meat and more dairy makes Jack an angrier, more hostile and depressed boy; more carbs and less meat and dairy makes him happier and peaceful.
Friend-of-Vegansaurus Graciela has a new blog in which she explores urban gardening in L.A. We are so envious of all her lovely greens!
Check it out, another E. coli outbreak in ground beef!
Kind of pretty, kind of disgusting: your internal organs rendered in produce.
Genetically engineered apples that stay crispy without refrigeration!
An interview with our hero Deborah Madison, vegetarian chef and cookbook author extraordinaire!
Publisher’s Weekly selects this year’s best food books; titles include the bizarro Almost Meatless (“almost”? come the hell on), the revolting Lobel’s Meat Bible, and two books Vegansaurus wouldn’t mind unwrapping this holiday season: Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, and Salt to Taste: The Key to Confident, Delicious Cooking. Neither is vegan, but both seem extremely useful.
Revolting, slightly terrifying tale of a food writer’s giving in to a murderous impulse and shooting a baboon, and the global fallout.
Ours friends at Veg-Table are looking for writers for their city guides. GET ON IT, YOU WRITERLY PERSON.