Craptastrophe: Pig manure foam is making factory farms explode. »
Large midwestern hog farms have for the last few years been battling a mysterious foam that is forming on top of their barns. In the worst case scenarios, the foam blocks ventilation ducts and the barns explode — yes, explode — killing the thousands of hogs inside.
This is so disgusting and sad. The most recent explosion was last Sept., killing 1,500 pigs and injuring a worker.
Here’s a news story about it:
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
This story is as gross as the lighthearted Green Acres scenes are inappropriate. I’m sure you also like how the reporting talks about the monetary loss and makes no mention of the pigs that die in explosions or any workers that are injured (#priorities).
For more info on this story, our boyfriend Tom Philpott has some good coverage over at Mother Jones. He makes the point that these explosions are relatively rare. Except that six crap-foam explosions since 2009 kind of seems like a lot to me, even though there are thousands of facilities that haven’t exploded. But however rare these explosions have been, Philpott says that the foam itself “has become alarmingly common.” So we can probably expect some more explosions in the future.
What does Grist think the solution is?:
The pork industry has been funding research into the foam and how to stop it. But as I see it the answer is simple. Get the pigs out of the barns and onto pasture, and raise them at a less intensified scale without the need for huge manure-storage “facilities.”
While that’s preferable to exploding barns, I’d go a different direction: free the pigs! Maybe a hotdog isn’t worth all this trouble.
Dude, all Northern California Café Gratitude locations are CLOSING?! »
SFist has the word and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it! Café Gratitude, why you have to be so crazy? Can’t you just serve up your delicious kale bowls and key lime cheesecake and STOP BEING A CULT? So annoyed at them. SO ANNOYED! Where will I get my delicious coffee shakes?? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, GODDAMMIT, GRATITUDE! My question of the day is: “WTF YOU GUYS!?”
More TK because we’re hella going New Tales of Sherlock Holmes on this shit.
UPDATE: SFist talked to Shandra Gilbert, Gratitude’s Director of Operations, who explained to us that, yes, Gracias Madre is also up for sale. Alas.
Et tu, Gracias Madre!??!!?
UPDATE 2: We now know for a fact that many employees (like, higher-up employees) had NO CLUE this was happening. They found out via SFist. Really nice, Café Gratitude.
UPDATE 3: We talked to Steve Sommers of Kumin Sommers LLC, who filed the two current lawsuits against Café Gratitude. He told us some interesting things! They mainly concern their tip-pooling practice, which goes like this: Every penny generated in tips and sales goes into same pool of money. At end of the day, they tabulate how much they should have earned from food sales, and they remove that amount from the pool— this, says Sommers, is called “breakage,” and it “shoulders the risk of the business onto the employees,” and is illegal. Next, they take 20 percent from the remaining money and send it to the central kitchen. Finally, they divide the remaining money among all the employees, from the managers to the janitors. Sommers says that one of his clients, Sara Stevens, would collect $200 in tips per night and only pocket $40. She is suing for between $80,000 and $85,000 in lost tips, and missed fuel and rest breaks.
The second lawsuit comes from their CURRENT—as in, he was still an employee as of 2:30 p.m. today, when we spoke with Sommers—bookkeeper, Ravi Shankar. He was being paid a salary as an exempt employee, which is illegal, and is suing for about $60,000 in overtime pay.
Sommers says that they have offered to let the Engelharts—Gratitude’s owners—“pay over time, if it’s a matter of money,” but by closing all their Northern California restaurants “they are scapegoating these two people.” Sommers also notes that once he filed these suits, Gratitude purchased three industrial shredders. “What are they hiding?” he asks.
It’s a legitimate question!
Also of note: These suits are entirely unconnected with Landmark and all that weirdness the East Bay Express wrote about in 2009.
UPDATE 4: Just heard from another (current) employee who said that they’re for sure being sold and that so is Gracias Madre, and it looks like there might already be a buyer for Gracias Madre, and it’s a big corporation. They didn’t tell the employees who the big corporation is (we’re thinking of starting the rumor that it’s McDonald’s! You in!?), but all Café Gratitude employees and central kitchen employees are getting fired. Super sad and shitty.
UPDATE 5: We just got news from a tipster (thank you!) that the Gratitude’s commercial kitchen and offices building on 14th Street is for sale. Asking price is $1.895 million, agent is Rob Maccarone at TRI Commercial. Check out the brochure here.
Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi are opening a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles! »
How fucking cool is THIS?! It’ll be on Ventura Avenue in the San Fernando Valley, and I will move to Los Angeles to eat there. And you think I’m joshing, but I am totally serious. Fuck a San Francisco Bay Area, I need to have dinner with Ellen and Portia like I’M MEANT TO.
I will move there and we will eat every meal at their restaurant and we’ll be best friends and they’ll adopt me and we will have so many hugs and then we will watch television and swim in the infinity pool at the mansion-house they bought me.
Oh! And then they will bake me chocolate chip cookies and they’ll tuck me into bed and I really have to stop doing this because it’s really making me hate my life. Ugh.
Anyway, another awesome vegan restaurant for Los Angeles, owned by famous vegans, and life is great there and it’s the worst everywhere else. TH-TH-THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!
Police academy hangs dog from flagpole, Mexico gets PISSED »
These pictures surfaced on Twitter last night along with a gagillion tweets with the hashtag #cachorroneza (Neza puppy) denouncing the abuse of the poor pup. Who would do that to a puppy? Mexico is pissed! The location of the flagpole has been identified as Colegio de la Agencia de Seguridad Estatal in the city of Neza, Mexico. What I can gather from google translate (my Spanish is rusty!), that’s a
private* police academy.
Some news sources have covered the story but there’s been no explanation from the school about WTF happened. They are however now aware of the power of social media to get the word out! It’s a great tool for civil unrest, is it not?
As terrible as this action is, the reaction from the public makes me feel hopeful that there are good people in the world who don’t think you can just do whatever you want to an animal. Go Mexico! Go Twitter!
I hope you are safe now, cachorro Neza, but I worry you are not. I will wish for the best though! You deserve a nice family and a warm bed.
*Update: Readers have told me it’s public and run by the government. Awful!
Read this: the Ration is great food writing »
Shocking revelation: your Vegansaurus is a media omnivore. It’s that pesky reading addiction; our eyes are probably ruined from all the reading we do, in print and online. The newest best thing to read on the internet is the Ration, “a project on food and health by the UC Berkeley along with students from University of Missouri, Harvard University and City University, London.” No, Michael “shut up” Pollan doesn’t seem to be involved with it, which is great, because man has that guy earned his nickname.
The Ration has only been up since last week, but its archives already look bountiful. They’ve got a story on prescription produce that’s informative without being (too) preachy, one on the health and well being of agricultural workers, one on a new aspect of the food industry’s stupidity, and an article on meat glue that is fascinatingly gross/grossly fascinating. The infographics are beautiful, like these interactive ones on the sources of calories in the U.S. and the changing nutritional density of our produce. Its videos are also quite compelling.
The Ration is gorgeous and interesting and I hope it fulfills its enormous potential. What we need more of is intelligent reporting on food.
Hellmann’s expands cage-free recipes, becomes slightly less terrible »
Mayonnaise company Hellmann’s has been making light mayo with 100 percent cage-free eggs since last year, but now it has two more recipes for which to be proud of itself: Canola Cholesterol-Free Mayonnaise and Reduced Fat Mayonnaise with Olive Oil. So thanks, mayo-ingesting people of the world, for making the first attempt at humaneness on such a grand scale so popular!
All that comes out to 5.6 million pounds of eggs, impacting 177,000 hens. Since Hellman’s claims to be moving toward cage-free eggs for its entire product line, the number of hens feeling just a bit better about life will increase to 1.8 million. That’s a lot of hens!
Why is this good news? Because it’s better than nothing. It’s harder for average omnis to disavow all animal products at once than it is for them to pay more attention to what they’re eating and where it comes from. I know “cage-free” doesn’t mean the hens have great lives, but American Humane Certified eggs (as Hellmann’s are) come from a henhouse with clean and sufficient food and water, limited stress, resting area, etc. So while it’s not perfect, can we not agree that it is progress?
Let’s all be vegan and live forever! »
[can’t see the video? watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
Happy birthday to Loreen Dinwiddie, who has an awesome name and just turned 108 years young! She credits her vegan diet, which she started in 1922 with her husband, for her longevity.
Loreen, a Seventh-Day Adventist, says she draws her diet from biblical teachings: “People say to me, ‘you don’t have any aches or pains and you’re feeling great at 108, what do you do?’ Well, do what God tells you to do. It is all in the Bible.”
I personally don’t do the religion thing, but I won’t pick a bone with you over what made you go vegan, so rock on. We’re gonna live forever!
Neanderthals totally dug on veggies, yo! »
That’s right! Scientists discovered traces of veggies, legumes and grains in the teeth of some Neanderthal specimens. More interesting, in my opinion, is that there’s evidence some of the food was cooked. See, previously, scientists thought Neanderthals exclusively ate meat, based on the amount of protein in their bones—we all know you can ONLY get protein from meat. Or the wacky idea that their bodies might have processed nutrients differently than ours? But whatevs, now we know they ate plants too.
Considering that early humans were hunter-gatherers (possibly even hunter-scavengers), and up to 80 percent of the hunter-gatherer diet comes from the gathering, it doesn’t surprise me that Neanderthals ate plants. It’s up for debate, but there’s evidence that humans and Neanderthals were living on earth at the same time;* what’s more, earlier this year scientists found evidence that Neanderthals and humans interbred. At the very least, Neanderthals could have observed the diet practiced by humans and followed suit. Then again, they could have discovered plant food-sources all on their own. I mean if you’re hungry, you’re going to try to eat whatever you may find around you. If it tastes alright and doesn’t kill you, you might eat it again. Other apes were able to discover the joy of veggies, why not Neanderthals too?
I’m more interested in how they cooked—that’s totally news to me. Dolores Piperno, who led the study, explains, “the evidence for cooking is strong. The starch grains are gelatinized, and that can only come from heat associated with cooking.” Fascinating! We all know how humans discovered fire: Prometheus! Did he totally bless the Neanderthals with fire as well?
The study also has implications on why Neanderthals went extinct and we didn’t. One theory was that they went extinct because animals they ate, like the wooly mammoth, went extinct and so they had nothing to eat; the news that they had more sophisticated and diverse diets puts an end to that. Poor scientists! I like the theory I learned in college: humans totally forced Neanderthals into oblivion! It reinforces my opinion that humans are a bunch of jerks.
*I majored in anthropology in college, where they taught us that Neanderthals definitely existed at the same time as humans but I guess not everyone believes that. This is the annoying part of anthropology; people are like, “this happened and this happened,” and then they’re always like, “OR, they didn’t!”
Loving Hut in Inner Sunset to open THIS SATURDAY! »
Hey guys! We reported on it going in and now we have word that it’s opening on Saturday, Dec. 18! As in, TOMORROW! Er, or it might be Sunday. EITHER WAY, it’s this weekend.
Who’s going?? Drumsticks for all!
That’s Ching Hai, calling in an order of drumsticks to go for me.
[thanks for the heads-up, Hugh!]
Vegan baked goods taking over: Babycakes opens in Disney World! »
YOU GUYS! There is a Babycakes in Disney World! Can you imagine? Vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free baked goods at DISNEY WORLD? News like this is what keeps us going when the bestselling cookbooks are all about dismembering animals at home. Vegan diets are the future, and our first victory will be over baked goods.
OK mrs. philosophical, but how did Babycakes even get to Orlando? Well! Disney at large, in an effort to be healthier, ended their contracts with McDonald’s. Just dumped them! And then invited, “among many, many, many others” Babycakes to be part of a healthier Disney project. Erin McKenna, being a clever and enterprising lady, agreed, and two years later, we have Babycakes Disney World!
Remember when all the promotional Disney movie toys came in Happy Meals? I remember specifically really wanting a cheap plastic Ariel toy and getting a really terrible Prince Eric toy instead. He came in a boat that did not float, and his hands were molded all poorly so he didn’t really have defined fingers. Also his skin was gray. I really hated that thing. Those days are over now, right? Or will McDonald’s continue its reign of terror even after Disney has divested itself of all that evil?
Or maybe, be quiet and be happy now, Babycakes is in Disney World!!
[photo by Brianna]