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12/02/2009

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Dianne Foster

Informative article Lindsey. I noted Mr Obama's turkey who received the pardon could not stand up. How pathetic. We all need to better understand the source of our food.

David and I almost never eat meat anymore except for chicken and fish. When we buy meat, I find 'free range' and/or grass fed meat, milk and eggs.

I discovered years ago how badly animals were treated in these farm factories, and I see from your blog, things have not changed. I comtemplated becoming a vegetarian, but I never completely made the shift.

My granddaughter Amelia became a vegetarian but I don't know if she is still doing it. She is majoring in Environmental Science at UVA, so I know where her heart is.

Lindsey

If you are interested here is a link to a website which points you in the direction of local farmers markets and organic/ cruelty free restaurants and grocers:

http://www.eatwellguide.org/search/advanced

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I was unaware PETA would be posting on our class blog. Interesting.

First, the idea of a "free-range" chicken is a contradiction. Chickens in their natural habitat (barn-yards) do not "range". They stay within clucking distance of their coop. You don't hear about great herds of chickens "ranging" across the Eurasian Steppe or migrating from Sweden to Algeria every year. No. Chickens were domesticated EARLY in human history (~4000 BC) to be big, flightless, and stupid birds that a farmer could take eggs from and catch to eat. Also, have you ever seen what chickens eat? It's disgusting...you'd rather not know.

Second, free-range beef is almost as contradictory since most - with the exception of veal and milk cows - a raised on ranches or pastures anyway where they're free to "range". However, last time I drove to Winchester and observed the beef cows in the adjacent pastures they didn't look like they were doing much "ranging". They were mostly just standing, sitting, or chewing. Now I'll admit the idea of feeding cows ground beef is a little disgusting (and what led to Mad Cow), but it all turns into protein anyway. Cows naturally turn grass into protein too...just more slowly. I'm pretty sure they just feed them that stuff in the winter anyway - cows can't very well "range" in snow drifts. When they're home on the range, I'll bet they're mostly eating grass.

The idea of "organic" food in general really just reflects a latent arrogance. It's another way for wealthy and upper-middle class people to dispose of their excess income in order to display their status. David Brooks wrote in "Bobos in Paradise" that 21st century bourgeoisie-bohemians (Bobos) prefer to display their wealth through the purchase of high-end "essentials" like organic food or Viking ranges instead of through ostentatious displays of gold, diamonds, etc.

Finally, if you have "organic" food there must be "inorganic" food, right? This seems strange, since all food (with the exception of Taco Bell) is organic. In any case, the truth is that the "inorganic" food produced by agribusinesses has enabled the American lower and lower-middle classes to enjoy unprecedented access to food and by extension dignity. The availability of inexpensive turkeys allows families of less-than modest means to partake in one of America's greatest traditions. This allows them dignity before only accessible to wealthier families.

We should be proud that in America the poor are obese...I'm sure plenty of starving poor in Africa, India, or China would LOVE a factory-farmed Butterball turkey.

Dianne Foster

Chickens ----As a gal who grew up on a farm with chickens and has the photos to prove it, I can tell you they can be 'free range'. Free range to a chicken means not being caged all day, but allowed to hunt and peck at will. Our chickens wandered through a penned lot unless I let them loose, which I did daily and got my heinie whipped for doing it too.

My eggs come from a farm in Pennsylvania where the chickens are treated humanely. I won't go into all the specifics, but basically, they are allowed to cluck and peck and all of them have beaks.

Cattle and cows
Our cows lived in pastures, where they ate grass much of the year (Texas, South Carolina and Georgia).

You are correct, there are some 'free range' herds in the DC metro area, which now extends out to second tier counties. These cattle graze. My daughter and her husband have a farm out in Culpeper County where you can see animals humanely treated. (Their neighbor raises buffalo)

Organic is a generic word that covers certain kinds of farming. As you know a lot, you know there are exact definitions of what this means. The knowledgeable shopper looks for 'Oregon' Tilth or the CA dept of AG lables. The Bush administration watered down the definition during its tenure, but those of us who have shopped organically for a while know what and who to look for.

I don't like PETA and you don't have to be a PETA fan to be kind to animals.

Lindsey

Also the difference between a "free range" cow and a industrial farm cow is that the free range cow eats grass. A industrial farm cow is either fed corn or ground beef (shutter) which their bodies have not evolved to digest properly. This leads to bacterial build up within the cows' stomach. Here is a video of what the inside of a cow looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkhdGG5pVW8&feature=player_embedded

Its really interesting but not for the faint of heart, or stomach.

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I'll admit that I didn't grow up on a farm and only know what I've picked up from more knowledgeable people I've talked to. So I'm probably not the best source.

Here's a link to an article by a guy who actually did grow up on a farm and seems to know what he's talking about. He makes some pretty good arguments too. For instance, 21st century business men don't use slide rules, so why do they expect farmers today to use 19th century (or older) farming methods?

http://www.american.com/archive/2009/july/the-omnivore2019s-delusion-against-the-agri-intellectuals/

Lindsey

Because it is cleaner, more humane, and the right thing to do. It is also possible to have better standards while simultaneously feeding the same amount of people. Also, it wouldn't require changes back to the 19th Century, it would require changes to just a few decades ago when there was more competition, more sanitation, and no factory farms.

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