The Language of Normalizing Animal Commodities

The modern animal-using industries and the scientific research engine behind it celebrate the biological and genetic manipulation of chickens and other animals for the sole purpose of rendering their eggs, secretions and flesh more marketable and profitable. In comparison, the only permissible form of genetic manipulation of humans — which remains controversial — is for life-saving medical advancements. Their key messages are that 1. their use of animals is a “win-win,” good for the animals and us; 2. technological innovations in animal science serve the greater good by feeding the world’s growing population. Continue reading

Happy Chicken Puppets Stoked about Becoming AHA Certified Meat

In stark contrast to Ganzert’s pious performance in the informercial, this new Foster Farms happy chicken commercial portrays chicken puppet characters that are just ecstatic about the AHA humane certification program. The marketing gimmick reminds us of the Tyson Foods commercial depicting chickens in front of a dressing table and mirror, as if getting dolled up to go out on the town. In both cases, humor and denial are powerful tools used to mask the violence and oppression at the core of animal agriculture. Continue reading

Are Chickens Smarter Than Toddlers? A View of Cross-Species Comparisons

Allied with the attempt to place nonhuman animals in a cerebral hierarchy – who is smarter, a lizard or a lion, a penguin or a parrot, a chicken or a chimpanzee? – is the effort to compare cognitively intact nonhuman beings with incompetent human beings, such as children, who are mentally undeveloped due to their age, and people suffering from mental disabilities. This type of cross-species comparison has attracted animal advocates as a way of gaining public sympathy and support for nonhuman animals by placing them in the light of defenseless humans requiring legal protections, which of course includes all of us living in societies that, without laws to protect the weak and vulnerable, do bend toward justice. Continue reading

The Fluther Transversion: Awakening to An Animal Rights Epiphany

The Flūther Transversion, with its catalyst(s), flood of memories, deep anguish, and alienation, may also be followed at some point by a sense of energy and renewal. It may be an often-transcendent feeling of all the “pieces” of one’s life — of one’s anxiety, one’s compassion, one’s lack of focus — suddenly falling into place. If before the epiphany of the Flūther Transversion, you had felt useless, or trivial, or nagged by a sense of inadequacy and wastefulness, now suddenly you may have a vigorous sense of purpose. Continue reading

Pig Adventure Virtual Tour: The First Factory Farm Disneyland

Ashley Capps created this incredibly virtual tour of her experience visiting Pig Adventure with her husband on grand opening day, August 5th. She walks us through her visit using a photo slideshow and even video clips to show the incredibly dystopian “Disneyland” this place really represents! For those who can’t see this in person, this is truly the next best thing. Continue reading

The Happy Chicken Farmer Fantasy

By allowing his chickens to live 5 weeks longer than those raised on factory farms and by allowing them a few hours a day to forage on a pasture, the farmer interviewed in this video claims that he raises “happy chickens.” He is cheered on by enthusiastic YouTube followers who are naively seduced into believing that chickens are simple-minded animals who can actually have fulfilling lives when raised on a bucolic-looking family farm. Continue reading

Live and Let Live: German Documentary Explores Veganism

Live and Let Live is a feature documentary by German director Marc Pierschel that examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism, and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that motivate people to go vegan. The film follows the lives of six people who tell their stories on becoming vegan and also includes interviews from some of the best-known ethicists and sociologists, including Melanie Joy, Gary Francione, Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Continue reading

Are Pigs as Smart as Dogs and Does It Really Matter?

Some people claim that supposedly smarter animals suffer more than supposedly dumber animals and that it’s okay to use the dumber individuals in all sorts of invasive and abusive ways. There are absolutely no sound scientific reasons to make this claim and indeed, the opposite might actually be the case, but we really don’t know. Lori Marino, founder of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, Inc., who also works on The Someone Project, says it well: “The point is not to rank these animals but to re-educate people about who they are. They are very sophisticated animals.” I’ve emphasized the word who because these animals are sentient beings, whos, not whats. So, it’s a matter of who we eat not what we eat when they wind up in our mouth. Continue reading

Salmonella: Blame the Hatcheries, Not the Chickens

I’ve seen a lot of media coverage lately about salmonella and backyard chickens. The Center for Disease Control has issued specific guidelines for backyard chicken keepers for avoiding salmonella, claiming that salmonella is “common” in chickens. But is the media sensationalizing the issue, blaming chickens for a problem that really belongs to their breeders and scaring people away from having contact with chickens? Continue reading

Saving the World With Livestock? The Allan Savory Approach Examined

“There is another way… to mimic nature — by truly mimicking nature. Adding domesticated cattle to desertified landscape as a measure to compensate for our mistakes of decimating the normal flora and fauna over the decades creates many issues. Savory’s methods may indeed restore some desertified grasslands but so would plant-based food production systems or simply reintroducing the original natural blend of species (plants, animals, insects, microbes).” Continue reading

Fair Oaks Farms: Selling Slavery and Sexual Violation as “The Miracle of Life”

On August 5, 2013, Fair Oaks Farms—the largest “agritourism” destination in the country— will celebrate Opening Day of Pig Adventure, a commercial breeding facility where 2700 sows are impregnated to produce 75,000 pigs for slaughter annually. Pig Adventure joins the Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure, a 30,000 cow dairy operation that has, since 2004, doubled as an “Agricultural Disney”; on daily tours, visitors can watch calves being born, cows being milked on giant mechanized carousels, and cheese being made, among many other dairy-themed spectacles. Continue reading

Why Fish Can No Longer Escape Our Conscience

Pescetarians—those who eschew eating all animals with the notable exceptional of fish—are commonly viewed as having fashioned diets that are more ethically focused than opportunistic omnivores. But could it be that the distinction they draw between, say, fish and pigs is as capricious as the one omnivores draw between dogs and pigs? In other words, might fish matter as much as the land animals to whom we grant moral consideration? Continue reading

Pig Adventure Is a Misadventure: McWilliams’ Open Letter to Fair Oaks Farms

Last week I asked esteemed journalist and agricultural history professor James McWilliams to write an open letter to the Northwest Indiana Times regarding their sensationalized coverage of the new Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms. I want this letter to coincide with Pig Adventure’s highly-publicized grand opening on August 5th. The McWilliams letter, which is posted below, will soon be available online for those who would like to sign on and add their comments. We will deliver the signatures and comments posted to this open letter to both NWI as well as Fair Oaks Farms Communications Director, Jed Stockton. Continue reading