Animal Welfare


…or tallow (beef fat). Or “Fatty Acids” (rendered beef fat). Dryer sheets–those static-removing sheets that we put into the dryer to eliminate irritating static cling–seem an unlikely spot to find animal products. Yet, the sheets may be coated with synthetic fragrances and a nasty helping of beef fat that is used to soften our clothes.

UGH.

So, now I have to worry about my dryer sheets as well?

You can choose to make your own dryer sheets; however, currently I am enjoying method’s squeaky clean dryer sheets for baby. These sheets are actually moist (not dry) and they can be reused, which is great, since the package has 40 sheets. I’ve successfully used one sheet three times  and my laundry feels/ smells great.

method eschews animal products and instead uses plant-based ingredients to allow for a soft, dried laundry load. method produces the sheets in different scents, including a fragrance-free option. Yet, I love the smell of the rice milk and mallow scent that is particular to their baby products. It really makes my towels smell fresh, and all of my laundry is static-free, soft, and inviting to the touch. More importantly, the laundry is not coated in unnecessary animal fat. The more opportunities I have to use products that are sustainable, and not derived from animals, the better!

You can check out method’s dryer sheets here: http://www.methodhome.com/product/squeaky-green-dryer-cloths/?free__clear  I purchased a pack of 40 sheets at my local Target. Using a coupon, I spent less than $4.00 on the item.

Let’s talk about a reality that we all know is true: industrial farming leads to abused, neglected, filthy, inhumanely-treated animals. There is no way around that knowledge, no matter how much factory-farmed food we eat, or how many news articles we purposely avoid in order not to confront this truth. The $7.00 for two strip steaks (USDA choice!) at my local market may seem easy on my wallet–I can instead put the savings to one drip of gasoline for my car–but I know, as so many others do, that the price is much higher. The pollution, the animal welfare, the antibiotics, the health hazards–so much goes into that $7.00 package of meat.

But what really is striking is what The New York Times published this week about states attempting to ban people from publishing photographs or video footage conveying the horrid conditions inside of factory farms.

Journalist A. G. Sulzberger, author of the article “States Look to Ban Efforts to Reveal Farm Abuse” writes:

“A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility. It would also criminalize lying on an application to work at an agriculture facility “with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.

Similar legislation is being considered in Florida and Minnesota, part of a broader effort by large agricultural companies to pre-emptively block the kind of investigations that have left their operations uncomfortably — and unpredictably — open to scrutiny.”

It’s not hard to imagine why “large agricultural companies” would spearhead a campaign to keep their hideous practices from being captured on film and published for the populace. What is disturbing is how easily they dismiss what has been published as “inaccurate” or “misrepresentations” of what is going on in a factory farm. Yet I can’t imagine why any consumer would–rather than exert our power of choice–knowingly purchase any animal products (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) from a business that would support such a Bill. I’m wondering–what is more criminal? The empl0yee who photographs heinous animal cruelty and publishes it, or the company that knowingly allows animal abuse to continue?

Personally, I am disgusted to think that states in this country are more interested in protecting the rights of agribusiness than they are concerned with human and animal welfare. Clearly, experts have proven the detrimental effects of industrial farming–the impact that it has in polluting our environment, decaying our civility and humanity (is it really “funny” to toss live chickens into bins and joke about how their legs “fall off in the process?”), and harming our health is staggering.

So here we are, America. Let’s consider the statement by John P. Kibbie, Democrat of Emmetsburg and president of the Iowa State Senate (also taken from the same article):

“Agriculture is what Iowa is all about,” Mr. Kibbie said. “Our economy would be in the tank, big time, if it wasn’t for agriculture.”

I’ll tell you what is in the tank, Mr. Kibbie. Dead, dying, and injured animals. More animal fecal matter and its methane than can ever be productive. People eating meat that is polluted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A respect for nature. A respect for animal welfare.

Perhaps if the government weren’t so entwined with agribusiness, we would have nothing to hide in our factory farms, or our slaughterhouses. In the meantime, Bills like this –which are designed ONLY to perpetuate bad business practices, and keep the money flowing to the agribusiness elite–reveal to consumers that there is something to hide.  And what is behind the factory farm curtain, photographed or not, is still a reality.

You can read the New York Times article HERE: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/us/14video.html?_r=2&ref=us

I heard about the recent egg recall due to salmonella and immediately checked the eggs I purchased. I was glad to see that my eggs were from Sauder’s Eggs  which has such stringent testing for their eggs quality/ safety. I found these eggs for sale at Fairway Market and immediately, I noticed the “CERTIFIED HUMANE” stamp on the carton. I’m always on the lookout for food that comes from organic, sustainable, and humanely-produced sources. Sauder’s Eggs is a company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania–a place that I love to visit!–with a genuine, honest approach to fair treatment of animals and the employees who work there. I wish that there were more businesses like this one who sold their wares in supermarkets. After watching Food Inc. and doing a bevy of research, I’ve been bypassing “traditional” factory farmed food as much as possible. I can’t imagine serving my family eggs that were produced by chickens living in such unsanitary, inhumane conditions (as most of the “agribusiness” eggs are). Now that there is more demand for healthy, organic, humane food, prices are becoming more competitive and are falling within my price range. The Sauder’s Eggs dozen that I bought cost less than $2.00 at Fairway. Not bad!

It disturbs me that so many people are sick from the salmonella–instead of spreading illness to hundreds or thousands, agribusiness should be working to improve working conditions and living conditions–lose the overcrowded cages, sheds, and fecal-encrusted enclosures in which millions of animals “live” and thousands “work.” It’s so far beyond the time for change.

In the meantime, I will continue to buy meat and eggs from Fairway Market, Whole Foods, and local businesses. 

Keep informed on these pressing issues at http://www.takepart.com/news/tag/hungry-for-change/