Oprah show torpedos CAFOs, gives props to Prop. 2

As just about everyone probably knows, most of Oprah's Tuesday show was devoted to reporter Lisa Ling's "How We Treat the Animals We Eat" investigation. I don't have cable, and thought I could watch the episode one way or another but could not, which I feel stupid about. Fortunately friend o'Ethicurean Kerry Trueman over at Eating Liberally has posted, in her usual wryly witty style, a comprehensive account of both the show and several new developments in the humane-animal-treatment world, including what's going on with Proposition 2, a ballot measure in California that seeks to increase cage sizes for chickens, pregnant sows, and veal calves.

Note that Prop. 2 doesn't ban cages, just requires them to allow the animal room to do some terribly luxurious things, like turn around and lie down. What's next, requiring free massages and manicures? Sheesh, these animal-rights people have such bleeding hearts. Big (Bad) Food has been pouring millions into ads lambasting Prop. 2: one of the biggest donors, MoArk, owns Norco Ranch, a factory farm in Riverside County, California, that has been caught on tape brutally abusing its chickens.

Says Kerry:

Watch the Mercy For Animals video and you'll ask "Where does simple decency begin?" I don't know whether freedom is on the march, but cruel, inhumane confinement is definitely on the run in California.

I couldn't make it through more than a few minutes Mercy for Animals video, which you can see on YouTube. It's that upsetting, and I have a pretty strong stomach for this kind of stuff at this point. Kudos to Oprah and Lisa Ling for making millions of Americans look closer at what they eat, even if as Kerry writes, they did have to bend over backwards to give Big Bad Food equal air time to defend their practices. Here's hoping at least some of them start searching out eggs at farmers markets, or at least spring for organic in the grocery store, and that Californians vote Yes on Prop. 2. Speaking of, I know money's tight right now — god knows I have none — but if you can donate anything to the Yes on Prop. 2 campaign, they could really use help in the final advertising push before the election.

I'll leave you with a much more palatable video about factory farm abuses and Prop. 2, created by the wonderful Free Range Studios, just in case you've yet to see it:

7 Responsesto “Oprah show torpedos CAFOs, gives props to Prop. 2”

  1. H Houlahan says:

    I'd have been more impressed by that "Mercy For Animals" video if it hadn't concluded with the assertion that the only alternative was a "compassionate, vegan diet."
    It's a bit like using video of the victims of child abuse as propaganda to push celibacy for all.
    My hens are running around cleaning up drops under the apple tree right now, thanks.
    If you can't manage that much intimacy with your food production, there are other means to establish trust that you are not complicit in industrial animal abuse.
    The undercover guerrilla vegan was shown gently placing mortally wounded hens on a shelf.  Very compassionate.  The voiceover lamented that hens were left to die instead of being killed humanely.  Why didn't our ethical vegan do that?  What kind of monster is he?
     

  2. Bonnie P. says:

    HH: Hmm, that's what I get for not being able to watch the whole thing. And by the way, I am not uncomfortable with slaughter — I've watched plenty of it on the farm and have helped kill and process chickens humanely. I certainly don't agree that the only response to the factory farm system is to go vegan. I think we should all eat less meat, and seek out (and pay more for) meat from places where we can be assured the animals are being treated humanely: as living creatires, not protein widgets.

    Thanks for making that point.

  3. Meghan says:

    Thanks for posting this. As a nutritionist, I encourage everyone to get to know their meet if they're going to eat it. I usually get looks of disgust as we all like pretend that that yummy burger was never at one time alive, and with a mother and father.  Have a look at my own video I did when I went up to work on a farm and got up close and personal with what will soon be someone's dinner (not mine): http://meghantelpnerblog.com/2008/09/21/i-heart-chicken/

  4. larry says:

    Nice slick ad with lyrics trying to make what they do look wholesome and fluffy.  In the end, you kill them just like the rest.  Such propaganda talent could be used by the Republican Party.  Why not show them in their final moments of life, when they are killed?

  5. Linda says:

    I've sent this one around, and was inspired enough to donate to Yes to Prop 2 even though I don't live in this area.  Lots of farms do, so wishing for this to pass so that truly inhumane treatment and confinement can 'be on the run' in California as Kerry states.  I also liked Meghan's video...!

  6. Tina says:

    Proposition 2 is a risky, dangerous and costly measure banning almost all modern egg production in California. Proposition 2 jeopardizes food safety and public health, wipes out Californians' access to locally grown, fresh eggs, and harms consumers by driving up prices at grocery stores and restaurants and creates a dependency on eggs shipped from other states and Mexico. Here are my reasons....

    1.  According to a UC Davis economic study, effectively every egg farmer in California will go out of business or forced to another state leaving approximately 3000 unemployed and $600 million in lost California economic impact.  Californians will become dependent on eggs supplied from out of state or Mexico, and expect the cost to double, even triple.  

    2.  Locally produced, fresh eggs will disappear from the supermarkets and replaced with eggs trucked in from other states and countries with possibly less stringent rules and food safety regulations.  

    3.  Other states and countries cannot provide the freshness and safety of eggs produced in California.  California egg farms have not produced a salmonella outbreak in over 10 years.  California has the most stringent food safety guidelines in the country.  

    4.  The Washington DC based special interest group that has paid millions to gather signatures to put Prop 2 on the ballot would suggest that all modern housing systems used by 95% of egg farmers be eliminated and egg farmers should return to methods used in the past.  This is flawed thinking!  There is nothing romantic about past farming practices and to discard our scientific, veterinarian and farmer developed animal welfare achievements would be a mistake.  Eggs, and chickens, are safer, more affordable and less exposed to harmful influences like Salmonella, Avian Influenza, E Coli and etc. than our farms of the past.   Both The American Veterinary Medical Association and The Association  of CA Veterinarians oppose Prop 2 because it completely discounts proven animal science.

    5.  You may have heard of a recent outbreak of Avian Influenza in an outdoor cage free egg farm in Idaho. Authorities believe migratory wild birds brought the disease in contact with the outdoor cage free flock.  Enclosed modern housing methods used in California today keeps migratory birds away from our hens.

    6.  Finally, the environment will benefit from less eggs trucked in from other states and countries.  Additionally,  uncontrolled run-off from outdoor farming operations is eliminated.

  7. Mo says:

    This is in response to Tina, and her completely inaccurate arguments.  The only accuracies I can find in her statements are that egg prices will raise, (the major economic study says that they will only raise by less than 1 cent per egg- big deal) and argument #6.  I helped gather signatures to get Prop 2 on the ballot.  I've read the Proposition, and I've read all the articles about the Prop and the opposition.  Prop 2 is nothing but good for California, and the animal food production industry.

    Re: #1: The UCDavis study says no such thing.  The Prop was written to protect small farmers and only affect CAFOs, the gross abusers of the animal food production system.  This will not shut down small family farms.  It won't force the factory farms out of state either- that's a scare tactic.  This type of legislation was passed previously in Arizona, and instead of driving out CAFOs, they voluntarily adopted the standards before they needed to.  Additionally the UCDavis study specifically says that it will costs producers less than 1 cent per egg to not confine hens in battery cages.

    Re: #2:  The locally produced "fresh" eggs (from factory farms) will not disappear from stores because this Prop will not drive farmers out of California.  It hasn't happened in Arizona, Florida and Oregon- all states that have passed this type of legislation.  Industry leaders agree that it is highly doubtful that this will happen.  Besides, where is your factual evidence that they will leave California?

    Re: #3: This statement is irrelevant due to my previous arguments.  But, I don't think you can argue that a naturally raised egg from a family farm in California is any different than a naturally raised egg from a family farm anywhere else in the states.  Additionally, recent studies show that hens kept in battery cages are much more likely (20 times more likely) to harbor Salmonella infection than cage-free operations.

    Re: #4: First of all, the Humane Society of the United States sponsored this bill.  Secondly, thousands of volunteers gathered signatures to get this Prop on the ballot.  They did not pay us to gather them, and they certainly did not spend millions to get it on the ballot. 

    Second, it's true that the HSUS would like to eliminate battery cages, because they're horrible for animal welfare!  You can say that hens are "safer" because they don't get as many broken bones or attacked by predators in battery cages; you would live an extremely "safe" life if you were stuck in a 1-man elevator for your entire life as well!  The point is that It is not ethical to keep animals contained that way.  

    As I previously stated, hens in battery cages are 20 times more likely to harbor Salmonella.  As far as the Avian Influenza, the birds wouldn't be exposed to outside sources, so the Prop in no way promotes the spread of the bird flu.  Have you seen pictures of chickens in battery cages?  They certainly don't look healthy to me.

    P.S. Besides the HSUS which is a renowned organization, the California Veterinary Medical Association, Center for Food Safety, the ASPCA, the California Democratic Party, more than 100 California farmers, more than 700 veterinarians, more than 30 newspapers, and more than 100 elected federal, state and local officials endorse Proposition 2.

    Re: #5: This legislation does not ban cages- it just makes the cages bigger, ergo no Avian Influenze influence.  Period.

    Re: #6: I agree the environment will benefit from local eggs.  Everybody should buy as local as possible.  This legislation will not stop that.  What is erroneous about Tina's argument here, though, is that the environment is better off with factory farming.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  Factory farming is a major pollution issue.  Some factory farms produce as much waste as an entire city, and that waste is dumped outdoors; therefore, there is quite a bit of run-off and contamination of our air and water.

    All this and more information can be found at http://www.yesonprop2.com.