Big news: Bon Appétit is ditching gestation crates, battery cages »
I’ve never heard of Bon Appétit, I thought it was a magazine. But apparently it’s a
cafe college food chain thing? With 400 locations. I checked out the site—it looks pretty good. But! That’s not my point! The important news is that Bon Appétit is planning to phase out suppliers that use gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for hens. Instead they want to get meat from “higher-welfare group housing systems” and eggs from cage-free farms. They are also going to ditch foie gras and veal from confined sheep.
They are pretty serious about it; From their site:
Bon Appétit will continue to work with the most responsible meat and poultry producers to pursue Animal Welfare Approved, Food Alliance, Humane Farm Animal Care or Global Animal Partnership certification of their animal welfare practices. These four programs have standards that not only prohibit such cruel practices as gestation crates and battery cages, but also require animals to be allowed to engage in their natural behaviors.
So it’s not just adding a few inches to their cages.
Fedele Bauccio, a cofounder of Bon Appétit, seems like an interesting dude:
“I have never forgotten the terrible things I saw when touring factory farms,” said Fedele Bauccio, cofounder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company. From 2006 to 2008 Bauccio served on the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which issued a landmark report calling for an end to gestation crate, battery cage, and veal crate confinement of farm animals.
“We’ve been asking the industry to do the right thing, but we can’t wait anymore,” Bauccio said. “We have to send the message that these practices are unacceptable. If the supply doesn’t catch up by our deadline, we’ll do what we have to — even if that means cutting back on bacon.”
Cutting back on bacon?! That’s un-American!
The Humane Society is on board with kudos from Wayne Pacelle himself. I know we will get some people who will call this “happy meat” and dismiss these changes; Of course ultimately, I want all the animals to be free, but in the meantime, this is going to mean a lot to that chicken who would otherwise be crushed to death on the bottom of a battery cage.
Eat less meat: Science says so! »
A study in Nature this week gives you a new round of paintballs to shoot at the non-vegan world in your mission to convince people that flesh-licking is for zombies. Basically, the researchers asked, “How the hell can we possibly feed the 9 billion people we’ll have on this planet by 2050?!?! FUCK!!!”
In a tiny little nugget of optimism, they found that it actually might be possible to do such a thing, IF we change a lot about how we deal with agriculture on this planet. That’s a huge if.
The team, from four different countries, looked at farm data and satellite images and probably went cross-eyed and bonkers and needed glasses from all the number-crunching.
They found that we could double food production AND reduce environmental impact, for only three easy payments, act now because this offer won’t last, if we:
- Stop clearing land for agriculture: We have enough land, we need to use it better.
- Catch the rest of the world up to the “developed” world in terms of crop yields (god help us, is that really a good idea?).
- Use fertilizer and other chemicals in a smart and frugal way.
- Stop throwing so much food out (a third of all food right now!).
- EAT LESS MEAT.
YES! The scientists actually say that moving toward plant-based diets will help end world hunger. According to one of the study’s authors, three-quarters of the world’s agricultural land is devoted to raising livestock, either for grazing or for growing feed.
So put that in your quiver. It’s not like scientific conclusions sway many minds (see: climate change), but it’s nice to know we’re right, you know?
If the government thinks we should eat more vegetables, why don’t they put cash money behind it? »
Veganism is more accepted than ever, and vegetarianism is downright mainstream, but I’m a realist: Herbivores are still in the minority. Further, we North Americans aren’t ingesting as many veggies as we ought to, and major health bodies have made statements to the effect that we should all give up processed meats and cut our red meat consumption considerably, at least for the sake of our health. So why is that so difficult? Money.
I’m sure you all saw the Myplate food diagram that was released by the USDA earlier this year as an update to the food pyramid. On the plus side, it recommended that people fill fully half of their plate with veggies, which is an impressive goal for anyone—vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. The problem is that though the government tells people to choose vegetables often—definitely more often than now, since Americans eat about 50 percent more dairy products a year than veggies—they aren’t backing that suggestion up with money. Particularly in regard to agriculture subsidies, which play a huge role in what gets grown—and therefore eaten—around the country.
As the Washington Post explained recently, agriculture subsidies began in the 1930s to help farmers weather the Great Depression. It was an incredibly hard time for a lot of people, and food production was not globalized in the way it is today. What American farmers grew was, by and large, what American people ate.
Today the subsidies seem less useful, especially when you consider what they’re supporting—$200 billion was spent to subsidize commodity crops in the U.S. from 1995 to 2010, and about two-thirds of that went to cotton, tobacco, and crops used to feed animals. I think we can all agree that tobacco is not a crop that people need to live. Cotton is not a food crop either. Growing crops to feed livestock raised for food is far less efficient than growing crops to feed directly to humans. Farmers growing fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts don’t get direct subsidies at all. And a not-insignificant portion of the crops that are subsidized go towards uses like corn and other things grown to make sweeteners—again, directly opposite to the goal of getting people to eat more vegetables.
And yet, last week leading researchers, published in Nature, advised people to eat less meat if the world is going to have enough to eat. The researchers pointed out that even eating just one or two meatless meals a week will have an impact. I can see why people are confused: scientists say we need to eat less meat, the government says we need to eat more vegetables, but the dollars support meat and dairy, and give fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains the shaft. The best way around this is to exercise your consumer-power: Spend your money on vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and whole foods.
If you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet—an excellent goal!—check out this vegan food pyramid for guidance.
Industrial farming is killing the oceans »
Remember how the ocean’s fucked? It’s still fucked, especially in France, where the beaches are unfit for human presence because of “Up-stream releases of manure from intensive farming that overload the near-shore waters with nitrates.” It causes growth of a seaweed that releases a toxic gas!
Farm effluent is so amazing. It creates dead zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, which now covers 83 miles of that body of water. Back in December of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan “to dramatically reduce the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that states can allow in the bay from municipalities and farms,” but guess whose opposition is blocking the EPA from implementing it: the American Farm Bureau Federation’s! Of course! Because dead zones are caused by runoff from those giant places food comes from, farms and feedlots.
In Brittany, 31 wild boars were found dead last week; the animals “‘were not [otherwise] sick and they did not drown.’” People can’t visit the beaches there because they could release pockets of the toxic gas the algae produces and die. How would this happen? By, you know, slipping and falling in the algae, or running, or walking. Not that anyone wants to play on a beach covered in horrible slime.
Industrial farming! It feeds most of the world while it kills the oceans! The best part of history is always when you realize no one’s planned more than like 10 minutes into the future.
The most eco-friendly meat is bugs. Go crazy, locavores! »
Don’t bugs outnumber humans something like 200 million to one*? What supply! Now, where’s the demand? If these locavores were really into creating a sustainable meat-eating future, they’d be looking at alternate sources of meat, and I’m not talking foie gras. I bet Philpott (the leader of the VOAFF revolution**) could just go digging in his backyard right now and come up with a feast for a king! Imagine how many billions of cockroaches he could raise on his farm! What was only room for hundreds of cows, pigs, or chickens, is now space for BILLIONS of locusts. The amount of sustainable nutrition that could be gotten out of limited amounts of space is truly mind-blowing.
If these conscientious omnivores are truly interested in environmentally-conscious meals, while eating locally and getting their meat on, they need to DO IT UP. Put your money where your mouth is (read: get in the kitchen and start baking up a delicious locust and wild rice terrine). Plus, I’ve heard it said that you’re never more than six feet from a spider. Can’t get much more local than that!
* On THIS earth. OMG, I bet there’s some planets where it’s the opposite and also bugs are hella big and humans are bug servants. I CALL DIBS ON THAT SCRIPT IDEA!
**Of which there has been one post on Grist about. Philpotamus, what’s up? When’s our first meet up? Is this happening or not, homeboy?!
Check out this video guys; it’s not scary. It is a little sad. It’s a really weird phenomenon though, right? That people will raise animals like they love them and then they kill them and eat them? It’s totally perverse! The day that someone can logically explain that to me, is the day that I’m Donald Trump. That makes sense, right? It’s Friday, cut me some g-d slack!
This video is brought to us by Ian Elwood. He is a nonprofit multimedia producer, environmental activist and animal advocate based out of Oakland, California. He works and blogs at International Rivers. Go get ‘em, Ian!
Vegan wining, spiritual dining, the names of milk, the miracle of elephants and MORE in today’s link-o-rama! »
Sweet Avenue presents: Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson cupcakes? Marilyn Manson I can live without, but I will take all the Gaga ones RIGHT NOW, PLEASE.
Have you entered our contest yet? You could WIN A SHIRT! Come on, son!
Vegan-style events for you!
Remember, the Women Entrepreneurs Showcase happens on Sunday in Berkeley, with a vegan catered lunch for only $4! Be at the David Brower Center at 2150 Allston Way from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.—lunch begins at noon.
The Recess Ends DVD release party is set for next Friday, May 7 at Medicine Agency, 1262 Mason St. at Jackson Street in San Francisco. The Recess Ends is a documentary about national unemployment—it sounds interesting, definitely worth a look. The screening starts at 8 p.m.
Miscellaneous items of varying importance!
Pajamactivism for the day: oppose the oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (via Defenders of Wildlife); ask Ahold to boycott Canadian seafood (via HSUS);’ Californians, contact members of the state Senate Appropriations Committee to express your opposition to SB 1345, which would legalize the importation and sale of kangaroo meat (via BAARN). “Pajamactivism”—y/n?
Aw you guys! CNN has the sweetest article about last weekend’s Worldwide Vegan Bakesale, with lots of photos of food you want to eat and people—and animals—you want to hug. San Francisco’s will happen next weekend, because of schedules, and whatever, you’ll get your desserts.
Baby activists: you could get scholarships for your awesome veg lifestyle! The Wall Street Journal finds it all a little silly—these children and their microloans, haven’t they money of their own?—but we say, go for it!
We’ve got all kinds of non-dairy milks made of all kinds of items, but we don’t have chickpea milk—yet. Israel does, though, and yes please we would like to try it.
The dairy industry, torturers of cows for profit (and fun?), would like the entire world to stop calling all non-animal milk “milk” and start calling it “imitation milk,” toute de suite. According to the National Milk Producers Federation, “soy milk” is a “bastardization of dairy terms.” Alternatively: "soy jism." Yes, someone outside of a creepy Western romance novel full of rape and cattle-roping still uses that word.
Attention pescatarians: you may now ease your consciences by purchasing your fish at Target and Wal-Mart, two of the top five purveyors of sustainable seafood as rated by Greenpeace. We are thrilled for you.
An Antioch, Calif. animal shelter killed two pit bulls this week, in apparent violation of the Hayden Act and despite the hard work of animal advocates. Life is so awesome, you guys.
"Foodies" are vegans, by which I mean, "white, affluent cultural snobs" and “elitists” who “romanticize poverty” and are basically terrible jerks who love eating. Get it?
On that note: need vegan wine recommendations? The Chronicle has an article about making and pairing wine in a “meat two ways!” world.
Let’s celebrate May Day with veal for a nickel! This doesn’t make me want to punch anyone in the stomach AT ALL. I’m also not at all irritated by the “Chicken wars” title of Michael Bauer’s little blog about all the delicious fried chicken choices in Southeast Kansas. “Chicken wars—whose tortured, murdered chicken has been prepared most tastily?” Man, fuck you guys.
OK, deep, cleansing breath: perhaps a visit to one of our fine city’s many cult-ish religion-run veg restaurants would help. Jackson West seemed to have a lovely time at all of them (I have been craving Golden Era for weeks, incidentally).
You can’t get Pizza Hut on military bases anymore, but you can get it in some prisons. Thanks, Aramark!
The down in your lovely soft comforter was most likely plucked from a living goose, which “constitutes torture.” Because you can only pluck a dead goose once, but you can pluck a living goose up to four times before you have to kill it! HA HA HA.
Letterman and his audience may find the idea of chicken activism high-larious, but after Ira Glass visited a rescued chicken farm, he went vegetarian. Fuck yeah Karen Davis!
The internet’s been all up in a bunch about discovering that chimpanzees grasp the concepts of “dying” and “death,” but I feel like Jane Goodall sort of already knew this 40 years ago? Regardless: if this leads to NEVER EXPERIMENTING ON THEM AGAIN, I’ll be happy; otherwise, science can shut the fuck up with its amazing animal discoveries and no heart.
You know what other animals are amazing? Elephants, duh! This week, an elephant in the Houston zoo made friends with a pit bull, which is apparently the only way a pit bull can be adopted in Houston, Texas. An elephant and dog in Tennessee are best friends, too, though that’s on an elephant sanctuary rather than a gross-out zoo. We also learned this week that elephants have a specific word meaning “let’s get out of here, there are bees around,” leading me to believe elephant language is rather like German.