Saturday, September 7


Another reason not to kill animals, at least not ritually: It starts fires. And it upsets your neighbors. Backyard goat-killing is getting banned in one N.C. town because the horrific noise "made the hair stand up on the back of your neck." So now the goat-killing can go on, but not out in the back yard. Just keep it outa my sight, OK? The article notes a similar case in another town where the "biggest industry is a Tyson chicken 'processing plant.'"
Chicken "processing" is, of course, just another sick ritual, closely related to goose processing. And with both, there's always a bunch of garbage left over, which further annoys those prissy neighbors.

These stories and the way they're reported, in addition to further illustrating how deeply conflicted our culture is about animal-kiling, are also prime examples of a favorite pro-killing argument: Hey, you do such and such (e.g. eat storebought meat, kill chickens) therefore you can't tell me not to do this (e.g. slaughter goats in backyards, shoot geese and stick them in your trash can). Of course, as an ad hominem (tu quoque) argument, it's technically invalid, but it's often enough to shut critics up. Unless they're vegan, of course, when the "logic" of it fails miserably.

Meanwhile, the ritual of terrorizing foxes with hounds and horses while wearing spiffy clothes just had few legs cut out from under it, as a study showed that Fox Hunting Does Not Cut Numbers of the Animal.
So a fave rationale of hunters, that "we're keeping the population down" is even more transparently bogus than before. Since foxes aren't "eatin' meat" for humans (soon to be the case with white-tailed deer), the only remaining excuse for this barbaric activity is, again, the ritual - the chauvinistic addiction to this moronic form of infantile pleasure. And these folks have the gall to claim they're better than monkeys?

Friday, September 6


While Conagra's getting its slap on the wrist, media outlets like The New York Times and The Nation are clamoring for significant factory farming reform. What is this, a vast left-wing conspiracy?
No, this is a good step in our awareness, but let's get real: factory farming is too evil a system to simply "reform." First it's got to go, then the whole "farming" of animals, no matter how non-factory and quaintly done. And that will go, if factory farming sinks, because anyone who pays fifteen bucks for a hamburger is gonna take a good hard look at the economics of vegetarianism.


Ding ding ding! The ConAgra story has now reached Epic status. This has the makings of a Hollywood thriller, folks. Get some popcorn.
In addition to its other crimes, it's now indisputable that Conagra brazenly lied about knowing meat was contaminated for two full days before the recall, and letting people continue to buy, consume and get sick from it while they forced the USDA to do additional tests. The "5% argument" put forth by ConAgra is exactly that (and makes for uproarious reading). So how are they getting punished for all this lying and dangerous defrauding of the American public? Glad you asked...

Stricter USDA tests for troubled ConAgra plant, that's how - ooooooh, I bet those profiteers are quakin in their boots now! Do you think they'll be able to avoid constantly skinning animals alive while the inspectors are in the building? Oh, that's right, those folks'll only be at the back of the building - you know, where the product is excreted - to check how much excretion there is on the stuff headed to your grocer's freezer.

And in other ConAgra news, the company is selling off its meatpacking division, in a "deal that was supposed to be completed in August, but was delayed when ConAgra Beef had nearly 19 million pounds of ground beef recalled because of E. coli contamination." Huh. And was this deal inked before or after feces-poisoned beef was found that caused that PR fiasco - you know, back in February?

UPDATE (9/7): Ask and ye shall find out: "Hicks, Muse and Booth Creek agreed in May to buy 54 percent of ConAgra Beef Cos. and Swift & Co., its pork-processing operation." May, huh? Do tell. Maybe that's why a ConAgra spokesman "would not say why Hicks, Muse delayed the purchase" again a day after the AP story above appeared. Hey, maybe they are quakin in their boots after all.


In a couple stories from the excellent resource, the evidence is coming in that the first fast food lawsuit is nothing to laugh off, no matter how much Rick Berman wishes he could. Now his ideological ally George W. Bush has had his cabinet demand that fast food companies start fast-foodizing fruits and vegetables, inevitably and not coincidentally replacing large unhealthy amounts of meat in Americans' diet. But even as McDonald's scrambles to cover its filthy derriere and play all "we were planning on going 'healthy' anyway," there's another lawsuit hitting the industry, and this time it's for fat KIDS. Ruh-roh.

Thursday, September 5


Much hand-wringing goes on over the stop-the-presses news that teenage girls, as they get older, stop drinking milk. Huh. Ain't that weird? I wonder why a child would stop drinking milk as they grow up - oh wait, maybe it's because THAT'S WHAT NATURE DESIGNED US TO DO. No adults should be drinking milk, and no humans should be drinking anything secreted by another species. My favorite line is this, from the author of the study:"I was surprised with the trend. This could have been due to peer pressure ... as milk could be seen as only for children." Yeah, uh, it could be seen that way.


McDonald's is getting a good bit of press for halving the trans fats in their fries, as though that's going to somehow reverse the inevitable plunge of this junk food behemoth into the financial toilet as people grow more aware of how full of crap their stuff is. Once again a major change occurs immediately after something that McD's says is completely and totally unrelated - in this case the "fast-food lawsuit." But the real joke here is, yeah, the fries are junk food, but they're not going to kill you like a lot of the other stuff these folks are pushing. This story, which I'm pretty sure was completely coincidentally timed (I saw it on the web mere hours after the fries story broke) really hits the nail on the head: "these greasy fast-food burgers, when eaten every day, are going to cause significant health problems. Ultimately, the burger chains don't care about their customers' health. They're primarily looking to protect themselves from lazy, fat ..." well, I don't want to spoil it all for you. Click and go.


On the way out of town last Friday I heard a bizarre news story on KYW Newsradio, saying that there was an outbreak of Listeria in southeastern Pennsylvania, and it had health officials concerned. After noting that at least 23 people had gotten sick from it, the story ended without, you know, telling people what listeria is, how it spreads, where it thrives and how to tell if you might have it. In newspaper stories there's a little more news you can use, but still a surprisingly lackadaisical attitude, even though now, a local guy has died from the feces-borne disease. Simultaneously, in a completely unrelated story, a Pennsylvania company has recalled half a ton of sausage products that were contaminated with - you guessed it - listeria. Bizarre.

Wednesday, September 4


I'll get to the rest of the backlogged stories in a day or so, but I have to squeeze this in 'cause it drives me nuts. In this AP chronicle of Bea Arthur having a foie gras producer (and the menu item itself) removed from a benefit dinner, compare these two phrasings:

* Foie gras producers force-feed the birds large quantities of food through a tube that is jammed down their throats several times a day. The extra food causes the livers to swell up to 10 times their normal size and often tears the birds' throats.

* Animal rights activists say foie gras producers force-feed the birds large quantities of food through a tube that is jammed down their throats several times a day. They say the extra food causes the livers to swell up to 10 times their normal size and often tears the birds' throats.

The second is the standard phrasing used by mainstream media to present any facts that are uncomfortable (which covers most of those having to do with meat), a clear illustration of media bias against animal issues. Either what is said about foie gras production is true, or it's not. Or some of it's true, but other parts aren't. In whatever case, that's what we, the readers, need to know. Now, in this case, the writer of this story knew damn well it was true (else there would have been an immediate contradictory quote from the other side), but phrased this - the crux of the entire article! - as though it were a matter of opinion. That's bad storytelling, and bad journalism.


In other animal-bashing news, ranchers on public land are crying wolf. In a literal sense, they mean it - wolves are "threatening their livelihood" by occasionally killing livestock. But in a figurative sense, the ranchers themselves are the wolves in sheeps' clothing. After destroying public lands with the ravages of large livestock operations (including, to no small degree, the manure and urine thus produced) now they want to overturn federal wildlife protection programs rather than find some safer and less bogus livelihood. Bruce Babbitt pointed out that while many ranchers have come to regard the federal land they lease as their own, it is not: "These are public lands owned by the people of the United States." Too bad so few of those people even know that, much less care.


A couple illustrations of why our relationship to our food is so screwed up. This St. Petersburg Times columnist seems mystified at how "squeamish" Americans are about eating horse meat (after all, something needs to be done with those who have "outlived their usefulness") and mixes his metaphors by calling horses a "sacred cow" here. Meanwhile, in a small farm town outside Seattle, residents are struck dumb by the brutality of one of their own kids, who clubbed 33 calves in the head, killing 16 of them. Four of the calves, it's said, are in "critical condition." The head of the Washington State Dairy Association pointed out that cows are "like family -- you know who their mothers are, their fathers, their grandmothers." Awwwww. So... when a crazed kid does it, it's unspeakable, inexplicable brutality to defenseless creatures. When the slaughterhouse worker down the road does it... it's dinner.


Here's another quickie: A diet high in fat, calcium and calories is now clearly linked to prostate cancer. Gee, what do those highs apply to? Meat and milk! Of course, the link had already been made in over a dozen previous studies, especially for milk... but this is the first one since I started this blog.


Boy, you go away for a holiday weekend and the stories pile up. I won't be able to get to all these today, but just for starters, our pals at the Denver Post are once again asking why the USDA keeps crucial life-saving information from the public in the case of contaminated meat, and whether even that low standard of compliance was violated, in the recall I posted back on August 24. Gee, it's a good question...