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12 February 2010


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Gina Spadafori

"... eager to impose costly and unnecessary reforms on those in agriculture who have fed America for more than two centuries."

As usual, Edie does a great job with this.

But ... I'm not required to not have an opinion. Sustainable ag is one of my absolute passions and I hope to be doing it for real in the next couple of years.

Concentrated animal feeding operations are a relatively recent agricultural development -- not two centuries by any means -- and they have impact far beyond the issue of cruelty. They are environmentally unsustainable and a threat to our health (development of superbugs and antibiotic resistance) and national security (the crap that comes out of these operations isn't even healthy when people AREN'T trying to kill us).

Breaking the cycle of grazing, manure, crops and splitting animal ag from plant ag takes fuel -- for fertilizers, for transport, for running animal factories. We don't have the luxury of throwing gasoline on this fire.

Farmers and ag vets are only one set of stakeholders. They are not entitled to make decisions for the consumer.

We all deserve a seat at this table, folks. Industrial agriculture is cruelty to animals, you bet: Human animals.

Christie Keith

Despite the richness of Edie's story, I have to admit the single thing that pissed me off the most was the guy calling Wayne Pacelle a "vegan from San Francisco."

Wayne is not, of course, FROM San Francisco, and "San Francisco" is just being used here as code for freakish outsider wimpy pansy [insert your favorite limp-wristed slur here]. Because everyone knows only "real men" eat food and thus, should have a say in it.

Gina Spadafori

Pretty funny, though, given that San Francisco has become the commercial heart of the sustainable ag body that falls between you and me in the Capay Valley. And that we both now belong to a meat co-op based in SF that's dedicated to supporting small family farms and ranches.

It's the same attitude, though: Only farmers get to decide. Except these aren't farmers who are deciding. They're corporations: Huge industrial ag, chemical, food-processing and pharma companies.

Ag workers, from farmers and ranchers to pickers and packers, are getting a horrible deal. As are we. But the big money is convincing them that something else is the enemy, or someone else such as Wayne Pacelle.

It's the same strategy that has worked so well to convince people in need that getting them healthcare is a socialist plot to destroy the nation.


Admit right off to being a vegetarian - BUT wouldn't we all be "safer" if we lived in small cages and were fed daily, given regular antibiotics and not allowed to mingle with others? GEEZ! Sorry, but I don't buy it. And I agree that the big ag that is happening now penalizes the small, independent farmers and ranchers and is unsustainable.

mary frances

A few years back I read Temple Grandin's book Animals in Translation - she's very famous now (not just for being a poster person for autism) but for her work which is extensive. She developed the hug machine and the curved corral - used to reduce livestock stress and promote humane slaughter - the recent HBO special about her life is getting great reviews (particularly Claire Danes portraying Temple Grandin) - I paraphrase Ms. Grandin, she said something like Nature can be cruel but we don't have to be...

So in efforts to become less cruel I'd say we all as humans have a say in that.(and Corporations are entities not humans.)

Gina Spadafori

Corporations are entities not humans.)

Comment by mary frances — February 12, 2010

And maybe someday a new Supreme Court can change that, since the current one thinks they are.

mary frances

Well I'm not holding my breath at this time but "too big to fail" that's just a red flag for disaster....really, don't mean to get all biblical but didn't Goliath have that attitude with David...I'm not giving up on that hopie changie thing - Where's Ralph Nadar lately?

Susan Fox

Where do all those university ag departments fit into this? Nothing I have seen or read suggests that animals are seen by them as anything other than "production units", fit only to be bred and altered to serve human needs as efficiently and as profitably as possible.

And the vet schools that teach a "party line" the same way that forestry departments teach students that trees are just a crop, like corn?

Maybe the large animal vets, as enablers, are part of the problem.

A certain world view is inculcated into those students and they carry it out there into the real world and it affects real, live animals and the humans who choose to consume them.

Once more into the breach, Upton Sinclair: It is difficult to make a man understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.


I picked up on the "two centuries" thing, also. The way we raise meat is NOT the way it was done two centuries ago! I've often wondered what a cattle rancher from 100 years ago would think if he saw the feedlots of today. I bet he'd say "yuck!"

Gina Spadafori

More on the breaking of the graze, manure, grow cycle: The U.S. is by far the biggest consumer of synthetic fertilizer, for which we are, as with oil, dependent on foreign nations to provide:


Industrial ag is so much larger an issue than it's made out to be.

Mary Mary

Once more into the breach, Upton Sinclair: It is difficult to make a man understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.

Comment by Susan Fox — February 12, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

Susan, yes, good point. Also when his "ease" depends on it. Last summer, I finally made the not-easy decision to stop eating factory-farmed chicken. This was after feeling somewhat un-easy for a few years every time I ordered chicken at restaurants or ate it at friends/relatives' homes.

It is not convenient or fun to cook my own chicken, bought from the small local farm I found, but that is what I plan to do. One of these days. As I really really miss chicken and it's been many months. And I really hate to cook.


Carolyn H

The upside of the current housing debacle may be that land that was being snapped up for housing developments can remain agricultural. As more food is produced by fewer people using less land, the methods necessarily have to be more intensive.

There are competing priorities -- animal welfare, sustainability, and feeding people at prices they can afford. We choose free-range, anti-biotic free meats, etc., and buy all locally grown produce (easy in Florida). If we lived closer, we would source all my meat from Polyface Farms. Having said that, we are also debating whether to switch our dogs from $300/mo of holistic, grain-free kibble to $300/mo of a raw prey model diet. My husband and I have both the education and the financial means to make those kinds of choices. That's not true for everyone.

Our generation has not known real hunger or privation. Studies have shown that the obesity 'epidemic' skews heavily toward lower-income people and minorities in the US. Intensive factory farming feeds people who might not be fed otherwise, but the prevalence of cheap, processed foods has also made them fat.

This is one of those complex questions for which there aren't a lot of simple answers. We can't just cut off the 'cheap' food supply without fundamentally changing the way people look at food, IMO.



Gina Spadafori

We can’t just cut off the ‘cheap’ food supply without fundamentally changing the way people look at food, IMO.

Comment by Carolyn H — February 13, 2010

This is absolutely true.

In half a century, we've gone from a country that enjoyed a "sunday roast" to one that expects beef in every $1.49 taco.

And of course, it's not just a food issue. Our manufacturing base has moved to China, because our WalMart values can not distinguish between "price" and "value."

My buying habits have changed along with my life. I buy very little, choose small business over big box and consider sources carefully. It works out the same, dollar-wise, I'm not deprived of any material goods, I'm healthier than I ever have been (even though I'm more stressed than ever) and have been losing weight very slowly but steadily for more than two years.

The downside is ... ?

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