Wednesday, October 15, 2008

old mcdonald

One great thing about my new job is that I no longer have to drive down I-40 W to Kernersville. I'm really excited about using less gas and saving some miles on my car.

I'm also happy because at least once a week I pass a truck full of pigs on that drive. Sometimes they're little tiny piglets and other times they're grown up pigs. The truck they ride in has little slats to allow air flow and the piglets' ears and noses and curly tails are usually poking out. So cute. Some times the grown up pigs peek their noses out too. It's really cute, but it tears me up because I know those pigs are not in for good things. There's no spider on their sides.

Don't get me wrong. I like meat. I love bacon. I enjoy a good pork tenderloin, too. But lately, I've been thinking a lot about the animals I eat.

Last weekend, we went to the fair. We watched the cow judging. I thought they were so cute and wanted to snuggle everyone. Don't you think a 600 pound farm animal would enjoy a good snuggle?! I kept wondering what was going to happen to the winner. When I was little I met a distant cousin who was involved in 4H. His cow had just won a blue ribbon. When I asked him where his cow was, he suspected someone's belly. I couldn't do it.

In grad school I watched a video in Ethics called We Are All Noah. By animal rights standards, it's pretty tame, but upsetting none the less. The point of the discussion was to consider what the Bible has to say about animal rights. As I grow older and more financially secure, I'm feeling more compelled to be more responsible for the creatures I eat.

I read about the animal processing plants for turkeys. Did you know that they hang the turkeys by their feet and run them through water that has an electric current running through it to shock them, not kill them though-it zaps them so they don't move, but they're still alert, then they're heads are buzzed off and then they're placed in scalding water to remove their feathers. If they miss a step in the process and go to the next step (ie if they're not shocked before they get their heads chopped off, or if they get shocked but miss losing their heads before being dropped in the scalding water) they're pulled off and thrown in a heap with the other half dead turkeys who didn't look so hot when they arrived. It's horrible.

I also learned about the cages commercial farmers use that leave no room for an animal to even turn around. Dairy cows are often kept on their feet in cages too small until they collapse because their joints are weakened from supporting so much weight as they fill with milk. They could live for thirty years, but the average is four and half because of the stress. That entire time they're forced to have calves, so they'll continue to produce milk. Enormous sows are in cages they can't even turn around while they await labor. Newborns are removed from their mothers immediately. Baby cows are kept in the inside in the dark so they don't develop strong muscles. We test millions of animals to put another brand of shampoo on the market when we already have hundreds. Many people will give their dogs Christmas gifts, but wouldn't think twice about the life of the pig or turkey that makes up their Christmas dinner. Certainly all of these animals are intelligent and should be valued.

I don't think we should stop eating animals. That's how the food chain works. I do think we should consider the lives of the items in our grocery carts. It's more expensive, but I'm going to try to purchase more humanely raised animals. As we make more demand for these items, commercial farmers will be rewarded for humane practices.

1 comment:

Jules said...

you must have watched Oprah this week! lol