Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
What a week!
First, the dangerous and notorious King amendment in the farm bill was, well, let’s just say humanely euthanized.
Third, California’s landmark law banning the sale and production of foie gras was upheld as constitutional.
Fourth, the New Jersey legislature is again working to ban gestation crates, and our bill to do just that unanimously passed out of committee yesterday.
Fifth, Kathy Freston’s petition asking McDonald’s to add a veggie burger is making headlines, including in the Wall Street Journal.
Finally, Fox News did a great story on the future of animal product alternatives. In fact, meat reduction efforts in Sweden are so effective that desperate meat industry reps have taken to passing out free burgers to kids outside of schools!
P.S. Video of the week: This gorilla would totally own any mosh pit.
Scientists finally get off their butts to study the effects of farm runoff on our goddamn water »
It’s not that they don’t care! It’s that the extreme weather has increased runoff to a degree so alarming that scientists thought, Gosh, maybe now is the time to see what the effects of like seven decades of industrial agriculture has had on our waterways. NPR has some pretty delightful (horrifying) quotes:
Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"It’s been happening for years," says [Bob Broz, a water quality specialist with the University of Missouri Extension]. "The problem is now we seem to be seeing more of these more intense rainfalls. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of nutrient loss."
"There’s the direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem," says [Bob Lerch, a USDA soil scientist]. "And then there’s the downstream impacts on say, drinking water, or a reservoir, or a recreational [body of water]."
Want to freak the fuck out about whether the next generation will even understand the concept of “tap water”? (Potable water from … the government? Available to all of us citizens for a nominal fee? Go on, old person, tell me another ridiculous story about life before you ruined the planet for us.) Read the article at The Salt blog.
[photo by Penn State News via Flickr]
Stop New York’s annual slaughter of geese! »
Gothamist rounds up the info on the Department of Agriculture’s annual New York City-area goose-murder, this year targeted at the geese living in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Is that actual irony? It’s certainly disgusting.
If you want to help stop the totally unnecessary murder of hundreds of geese, get more info from Goose Watch NYC, and sign the petition addressed to Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
[Photo by Peter Roan via Flickr]
Vegans rejoice! U.S. meat consumption has been falling since 2004! »
Per Parke Wilde at U.S. Food Policy blog, we as a country have been eating fewer cows, chicken, and pigs since peak meat-eating in 2004 (chicken-eating peaked in 2006). The vegans are winning! Sort of.
Beef consumption peaked in 2002 and has fallen about 12 percent since then. Pork consumption peaked in about 1999 and has fallen about 11 percent since then. And I had not realized that chicken consumption peaked in about 2006 and has fallen almost 5 percent since then.
Total combined consumption of beef, pork, and chicken peaked in about 2004 and has fallen more than 6 percent since then.
But, Wilde says, it’s probably as much (or more) to do with the recession and the cost of dead animals than it is people’s actual desire to stop eating them. Still, that’s something to be pleased about. If only it were 16 percent instead of 6.
[Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr]
Debating the scientific merits of a vegan diet with the Wall Street Journal »
When even Rupert Murdoch’s favorite news producer wants an excuse to be vegan, you know we’ve arrived. The Wall Street Journal invites two professors of nutritional science, the delightful T. Colin Campbell and Nancy Rodriguez, to argue for and against a vegan diet.
The dairy industry has long promoted the myth that milk and milk products promote increased bone health—but the opposite is true. The evidence is now abundantly convincing that higher consumption of dairy is associated with higher rates of bone fracture and osteoporosis.
It’s also worth noting that the government recommendations for certain population groups to increase their protein and iron consumption come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency long known to be subservient to the meat and dairy industries.
I’ve always been a welfare vegan, but it’s nice to have science on our side, for the humanists.
[photo by John Hritz via Flickr]
The Meatless Monday Unicorn is clearly nonplussed, as per usual. If you don’t know about the situation with the USDA and Meatless Monday, catch up.
As always, you can send the MMU directly to your omni pals via flickr.
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! WOOHOO!
Good news: A judge has rejected the foie gras industry’s attempt to put a hold on California’s new law banning the force-feeding of ducks (and selling products from force-fed ducks).
More good news: North America’s largest foodservice distributor, Sysco, is the latest food giant to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs.
In response to the gestation crate debate, the National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was seriously quoted in the National Journal this week saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” (No, this isn’t a quote from 30 years ago—it’s July 24, 2012. Seriously. Yes, I know.)
Amazingly, USDA put out a newsletter this week including a mention of the health and environmental benefits of Meatless Monday. This of course drew immediate outrage from the meat industry and its allies in Congress (Rep. Steve King from Iowa tweeted that it was “heresy”), prompting USDA to immediately remove the newsletter and announce that it wasn’t properly vetted. Lots of coverage on this, though the national AP story put it best when it aptly concluded, “The USDA often promotes the beef industry by encouraging Americans to eat meat.” (NPR and NY Times had good coverage, too.)
USDA retracts support of Meatless Mondays, is beef industry’s puppet »
Man, this is so gross. Even more proof that the governmental agencies put in place to protect us only care about appeasing the big money$$$.
From the USDA Twitter:
You can just imagine how that went down. Like, lower level people at the USDA were all, “sure, Meatless Monday, that’s cool, Americans should eat several fewer pounds of shit-laced meat a day!” and then the beef industry bigwigs saw it and freaked the fuck out because, “OMG AMERICANS EATING FEWER DEAD ANIMALS THAT’S UN-AMERICAN!! AND ALSO, HOW WILL WE GET RICHER AND MAKE EVERYONE ELSE SICK AND POOR???” and then they called the USDA bigwigs who—shocker!—are some of their bff’s/former employees and BAM, Meatless Monday retracted.
What. a. bunch. of. bullshit. LITERALLY.
The puppy you bought on the internet came from a puppymill. Fucking duh.
I’m astounded at the way many people go about getting a dog. I hate breeders but if someone is going to buy a dog, they should research the breeder and visit the facility. How can you just order one online? A dog is not a sweater! Plus, you might get a gremlin or something. Jeez Louise.
Check out HSUS for more info and to send an email to the USDA!
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.