Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Food With A Face

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Newborn calf

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One of my favorite charities and organizations (after human ones) is the Farm Sanctuary.  Their purpose is best stated from their own Web Page

“Across the U.S., animals raised and killed for food are subjected to intolerable cruelty. They are routinely packed inside factory farm warehouses, barely able to move or engage in basic natural behaviors. More than 9 billion land animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year, and millions more die before reaching the slaughterhouse. Farm Sanctuary confronts agribusiness on all issues affecting farm animals. We work to end cruel factory farming practices through investigations, public education, legislation, and litigation.”

What they do is also best stated from this story about “Lawrence, Blitzen, and Alexander: Newborn Calves Rescued from Stockyard on Road to Recovery” from their magazine, “Sanctuary” I hope they don’t mind if I steal it a few excerpts.

“The National Shelter Director, Susie Coston was to discover Lawrence, Blitzen, and Alexander when she watched truck after truck filled with calves drive up to the auction complex at an area stockyard.  The newborns, some not even a day old yet, were frenzied and bawling for their mothers.  The fear elicited only frustration from the workers, who roughly unloaded and herded them into holding pens, hitting them with canes and shocking them with cattle prods

Even more disturbing, some calves were clearly ill.  Susie encountered one who had collapsed and was left lying near a loading dock in freezing temperature.  That would be Lawrence.  The other two she would rescue that day had been driven into the auction ring when the sale began. One was so sick and weak that his legs kept buckling beneath him as workers prodded him to make him stand.  That would become Alexander.  The other, weighing only 37 pounds, was so small that the bidders called him “trash”.  He would become Blitzen. These suffering animals were mocked in their distress and finally deemed worthless when they failed to sell for even one dollar.

Susie stepped in to claim the three calves and rushed them the veterinary hospital where they began receiving the medical treatment they needed to survive. If she hadn’t intervened, these boys surely would have ended up on a garbage heap or in the grips of a renderer.”

How are they doing?  They are all at one of the Farm Sanctuary’s Farms.

Lawrence rallied to become the healthiest of the three. He was successfully treated for pneumonia, salmonella, and renal failure.

Blitzen, required many trips to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals where his weak immune system was strengthened with plasma transfusions.

Alexander, spent six weeks in Cornell’s intensive care, but is now doing very well after treatment for a severe infection.

The trio remains in good sprits, are loving and playful, the article reports.

There is much debate about the abuses of animals confined in industrialized animal operations.  Veal calf confinement is just one of the abuses that is particularly cruel, since they are kept in crates barely able to move in order to provide tender veal for consumption.

We will continue to eat meat, but measures can be taken by these organizations including Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society and Mercy for Animals to do what the federal and state governments are not doing; documenting the kind of behavior that most of us abhor.  Several states are trying to adopt legislation to stop videotaping at factory farms.  This would not be necessary if the industry was properly regulated, according to Mark Bittman, food writer and journalist. He also reports “poll after poll finds that almost everyone believes that even if it costs more, farm animals should be treated humanely”.

CAFO’s or concentrated animal feeding operations can foster public health threats for humans, environmental damage and of course, animal suffering. For now, we can support at least the idea that animals rights need more attention from us, the consumers, until these industries clean up their acts.


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