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.
Top 10 links of the week!: A hokey pokey through the roller rink of veganism! »
A new video from Kizz and Cazz. They want to make you vegan.
From our pal Tom Philpott, 80% of Chicken Growers Never Sanitize Poop-Filled Cages. And as we scary factory farm video watchers know, they aren’t just poop-filled, they are filled with hella dead chickens left to rot. That’s got to be good for you.
From Discovery, a baby pygmy elephant is rescued! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THERE ARE PYGMY ELEPHANTS? That means there’s probably one that will fit in my purse. They’re actually super endangered though so don’t go putting them in purses, guys.
After bad press over their egg farming practices, a bunch of monks in South Carolina are growing mushrooms! Totes more godly.
The U.N. says that world food demands are going to outpace supply in the next few decades. Hmm, what to do? Maybe listen to the U.N.’s recommendation to reduce meat and dairy consumption? Of course there’s no mention of that in the first link. That would just be silly.
So are you following Grist’s Protein Angst series? We talked about how bad the soy one was last week but there seem to be some good ones too. Like this Protein Propaganda one. We should probably read them all. Which do you like? I’ll prioritize. I’m like a machine.
More vegan goodness from The Atlantic.
I’m hesitant to share this but it could be something really good for orcas! Some ex-Seaworld people made a site and it sounds good, it’s just that it has a countdown to Burning Man on it. I just can’t look at a site with a countdown to Burning Man on it.
Did you hear about this nutty Nigella Lawson and Gillian McKeith thing? Awful! Choosing Raw has a great response.
The meat industry is plain fucking evil »
Our boyfriend Philapotamus is over at Grist talking about how the meat industry turned abuse into a business model. It’s a pretty solid piece and a quick read so why don’t you go over there and tell him what a good job he did and also, remind him to buy almond milk on his way home and oh yeah, to give up being a hypocrite and STOP EATING DEAD ANIMALS. And then apologize for our outburst thusly:
"We kid, honey, you’re doing a great job, we love how vocal you are against big meat ag almost as much as we love your jaunty cap. But we think that deep down you know that the fastest way to stop abusing animals is to stop eating them.”
J/K that’ll never happen, but we know some people are gonna eat meat and so there has to be better ways to get them the dead animal flesh they need so badly and we support any opponent of the factory farm system and please forgive a lady for whining, but ugh VEGANISM IS DELICIOUS and FUN and WE’RE ALL SEXY AND NAKED OVER HERE. Just stop eating meat! Just stop! It’s not that hard! And it feels awesome to know you’re not giving those assholes a red cent! And you’re not taking a life just for your own momentary pleasure! I mean, it’s perverse! KNOCK IT OFF!
Sorry, I’m all jet-lagged and have no patience for people who eat dead animals right now. I just don’t. I used to love meat more than I loved having the use of my legs and I stopped. Seriously, I stole a chicken leg from a dog’s mouth once and I ate that thing. I was five but does that excuse the fact that I ATE A CHICKEN LEG THAT HAD BEEN IN A DOG’S MOUTH and then I used the cartilage as chewing gum. I’m just trying to make you understand the level of devotion I had to meat times in meat town. I was the mayor and president! Point is: If I can do it, so can you! Seriously, no matter how much you think you love meat and can’t live without it, you can. And it feels awesome, I promise. Well, I can’t promise, you might just be a straight sociopath. If that’s the case, email me because I need some favors.
NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED, LESS WHINY PROGRAMMING AND I NEED TO TAKE SOME THERAFLU AND GO BACK TO BED I LOVE YOU ALL USA USA USA!
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?!
The Humane Society of the United States: animal welfare group, or TERRORISTS? »
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
Major lolz but also: Major WTF OMG!
The best part is that this ridiculous video was made by some group called Missouri Farmers Care, which looks suspiciously like A FRONT for big meat and dairy and the industries that support them, like corn and soy. Prime example: they’re funded by one Mr. Dale Ludwig,* the executive director/CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. Hmm, I wonder who has money to lose if animal agriculture slows down in Missouri? Could it be the asshole who is providing all the GMO soy feed?? And get this, “Before coming to the soybean office, Mr. Ludwig worked in the agribusiness marketing and communications industry with Monsanto and Cargill.” Man, this guy is THE WORST. I LOVE that Missouri Farmers Care is ostensibly about protecting and nurturing farmers when this fucker could give two shits about them. He worked for Monsanto! You know, those seed patenting psychos who go after the small-scale, indie farmer on the regular. Oh, and I like how the Twitter feed for Missouri Farmers Care is just a mouthpiece for big beef and dairy. Way to represent the real farmers, you d-bags.
In conclusion, if you want to support the Humane Society of the United States because they’re rad and you’re not a psycho, you can buy The Bond, the brand-new book by HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. It’s all about the human-animal bond and all that magical shit. You’ll love it.
*This link wasn’t working on Firefox earlier (Firefox, you’re killing me, bro) so here’s a cached version.
Much additional reporting and many foul words added by Laura!
What do vegans get from a vegan/omnivore alliance? »
Tom Philpott has proposed a vegan/omnivore alliance against animal factories (VOAAF. I know, it’s missing an A. And I think “V O triple-A F” sounds cool). Read the piece, tell me your reactions. I believe it’s very well intentioned so I wanted to like it but it just left me thinking, “WTF do I get out of it?” Philpott says if 99 percent of meat is produced on factory farms and these “conscious” meat-eaters oppose this meat, “then vegans and omnivores agree on 99 percent of the meat issue.” That’s just not true, is it? While I definitely want better treatment for animals in farms, I formally object to animals being exploited by humans—that objection makes up more than 1 percent of my beliefs.
Besides this math issue, the main problem I have is believing these conscious meat-eaters really never eat factory farm meat. A vegan at the baseball stadium will not get a pork hotdog just because a vegan one isn’t available—will these meat-eaters do the same? Would they forgo the traditional baseball day hotdog simply because the meat comes from a factory farm?
Philpott wants vegans to put aside the majority of our beliefs (it’s not just 1 percent) but what is he asking the omnivore faction to do? It’s not like Grist is running tons of articles encouraging people to not eat meat (or really anything positive about veganism, check out their articles!). When they address food issues, it’s more just, “EAT MEAT! But just this kind!” I believe we need to be encouraging the whole world to EAT LESS MEAT, period. Also, what’s more exclusionary: asking people to eat more inexpensive veggies, beans, and grains, or telling them to make sure that their dead animals come from the 1 percent that’s up to Philpott’s standards?
In the end, I do want better treatment for animals and factory farms make me sick so I would support these more thoughtful omnivores. It would really be a great thing if meat-, egg- and dairy-eaters were to forgo all factory farm products—but is that what Philpott and the like are promising? The way it sounds now, Philpott wants us to take two steps back and the omnivores to just, what? Keep on with the same? If he could get a bunch of meat-/dairy-/egg-eaters to completely swear off all factory farm products, then I would definitely be interested in the alliance. It’s not so hard—we vegans already do it.
UPDATE!: As Laura reminded me, if Philpott does intend to include vegans, how come not one vegan advocate was listed in the post? I am excited to learn more about this and participate in it but I’m not interested in a meeting of the minds where I do all the meeting.
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.