Tag Archives: caged hens

The Curious Story of the Food We Eat

Hens on grass! How extraordinary!

When you go to the supermarket and buy a dozen eggs, a bottle of milk, a carton of soymilk, a bag of peaches, a fish or pork chop for dinner and a newspaper you won’t be thinking about the inside story behind these harmless purchases.

The truth is that with intensified farming, the story is not a pleasant one for animals. People no longer grow enough for their family in their own gardens as would have been the case a hundred years ago. Now farmers have to service a market of potentially millions of people. Food is mass produced with all the nastiness that this entails. Animals are treated as disposable products.

Let’s take  the first item on our shopping list – the eggs.

In Australia we eat 12 million eggs every day.  All over the world billions of hens are sitting in cramped little cages under constant artificial light, unable to move as they lay egg after egg. They never see grass or natural light. They will never walk. Their claws are long and so twisted that they never could walk even if they wanted to. Their feathers have fallen or been pecked out. They have a very short life span. As soon as they stop  laying their life is worthless to a farmer. They are slaughtered straight away.

Of course, because roosters can’t lay eggs then they are totally disposable. At one day of age the males are separated from the females and are stuffed alive into a machine which mashes them up.

The baby hens are then debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old so that they won’t peck each other.

Antibiotics are added to their feed to prevent against infections.

Free range hens are in no better situation. Hundreds of hens are cramped together in a confined space in a shed. There’s no such thing as hens running freely through the fields.

So, you say, at least they lay nice eggs. But do they?

The yellow of the yolk (which incidentally should be orange rather than yellow) is formed from eating green food – ie grass.  Since there is no grass in either of these constricting circumstances, food colouring is added to their food to ensure that the yolk is yellow.  Now isn’t that a healthy food choice?

If you are a believer in the suffering of animals permeating their flesh or their by products, then an egg would be a true instrument of suffering.  That can hardly enhance the health of the eater. I choose to have hens in my own backyard so I can have confidence that they are happy and live carefree lives.

If you’d like to read more about the suffering of factory hens see www.peacefulprairie.org/freerange1.html

As for milk, the second item on the list, you’d think that would be a harmless purchase.

I don't think too many cows are hand milked anymore http://www.fotosearch.com

There has been some talk  lately about poddy calves. I recently spoke to a dairy farmer and she said that they have so many poddy calves they don’t know what to do with them so they hit them on the head and killed them all. She said that otherwise they’d never be able to sell them as there would be more calves than the market can accommodate. 

I directly quote the following from the website of the animal activists Peta. http://www.peta.org/issues/pages/animals-used-for-food/Cow-s-Milk-A-Cruel-and-Unhealthy-Product

Given the chance, cows nurture their young and form lifelong friendships with one another. They play games and have a wide range of emotions and personality traits. But most cows raised for the dairy industry are intensively confined, leaving them unable to fulfill their most basic desires, such as nursing their calves, even for a single day. They are treated like milk-producing machines and are genetically manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones that cause them to produce more milk.

A rather worrying picture if you believe that cows could be adversely affected by powerlines

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do—to nourish their young—but calves on dairy farms are taken away from their mothers when they are just 1 day old. They are fed milk replacers (including cattle blood) so that their mothers’ milk can be sold to humans.

Female cows are artificially inseminated shortly after their first birthdays. After giving birth, they lactate for 10 months and are then inseminated again, continuing the cycle. Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are confined to massive, crowded lots, where they are forced to live amid their own waste. Cows have a natural lifespan of about 20 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years. However, the stress caused by the conditions on factory farms leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time that they’re 4 or 5 years old, at which time they are sent to be slaughtered.

Painful inflammation of the mammary glands, or mastitis, is common among cows raised for their milk, and it is one of dairy farms’ most frequently cited reasons for sending cows to slaughter. 

In Australia there has recently been a price war conducted by Coles. A litre of Coles milk has been available for sale at $1 a litre, grossly undercutting other retailers. Coles has been prepared to wear the loss as it brings people into their supermarkets, however in due course this will directly affect the Australian dairy farmers who will adopt farming policies to further cut costs. Cows will be the end sufferers.

There is a Buddist line of thought that just as the eggs we eat are created in sad and deformed bodies lead to a toxic product, while cows suffer on factory farms, humans who drink their milk increase their chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other ailments.

Dairy farms are an environmental concern too. Large dairy farms have an enormously detrimental effect on the environment. In California, America’s top milk-producing state, manure from dairy farms has poisoned hundreds of square miles of groundwater, rivers, and streams. Each of the more than 1 million cows on the state’s dairy farms excretes 18 gallons of manure daily. The dairy industry is the primary source of smog-forming pollutants in California; a single cow emits more of these harmful gasses than a car does. (Extract from Peta http://www.peta.org/issues/pages/animals-used-for-food/Cow-s-Milk-A-Cruel-and-Unhealthy-Product)

But are soy products better?

A soybean plantation

Well no soy beans are tortured, that’s for sure. However there is lots of evidence to suggest that they are also very bad for the environment. In Argentina after the collapse of the economy after the floating of the peso in 2002, the Argentinians were coerced (no doubt by the IMF) into chopping down their forests and planting soybeans to feed European pigs. Also, a major cause of destruction of the Amazon jungle has been for the production of soybeans. Now Indonesia intends to raze millions of hectares of jungle in territory they own in New Guinea to grow, amongst other things,  soybeans. When countries have financial problems, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) moves in and tells them to destroy their environment to grow soy beans and palm oil plantations if they want money. Hence we have the deaths of untold billions of reptiles, birds and wild animals on our hands. We can expect a lot of  environmental problems to the world to emanate from the Amazon very soon and the result will not be pretty. At this moment the Amazon is poised on the edge of turning from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. When this happens world temperatures will escalate alarmingly.

As for whether soybeans are better for your health, the vast majority of soybeans are genetically modified. From a health perspective this does not seem to be an ideal situation.

Read more at http://www.slate.com/id/2195690/ where a more thorough comparison is made between the environmental pros and cons of dairy milk and soy milk.

In my next blog I will discuss what could possibly be wrong with those peaches, fish, pork chop and newspaper.

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Pigs to Ewe!

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

Tigers, elephants, all kinds of bear,

Could now roam free- without a care.

Their rivers would run unpolluted

Man and Earth are so unsuited!

That poem is my catchcry. I want to hear something cheerful but it’s not often that you get to read some really good news about the treatment of farm animals is it?

So it is with great joy I read that in July, Jan Cameron, the founder of the clothing store Kathmandu, pledged $5 million to establish the Animal Justice Fund. The fund will pay up to $30,000 for successful prosecutions of cruelty relating to farm animals. The fund will also finance legal action.

It is also cheering to hear that a body called the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel exists.  This comprises a group of more than 100 Victorian and New South Wales barristers who offer their services gratis.  In 1997 Tracy-Lynne Geysen started BLEATS, Autralia’s first animal law practice. BLEATS can call on more than 150 lawyers providing pro bono services for animal welfare cases.

A lot of consumers are disgusted by hens being held in tiny, permanently lit cages till their claws become twisted and their feathers fall out. It worries us that most hens for eating live for only forty days and yet they weigh over one kilo when slaughtered.We are disturbed by sows being kept in stalls (https://roslynmotter.com/2010/05/04/happy-mothers-day-but-not-for-pigs/). We abhore the thought of live sheep being transported to foreign lands where they have been known (if they actually arrive alive) to have been purchased and then promptly deposited in the boot of a car. And so it goes on…animals in zoos and circuses, animals used in research… there is no joy in being a captive animal unless it is as a fluffy cat or doggy held by a doting owner.

When we read about research such as  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727201515.htm which recounts a recent experiment which proved that pigs are capable of complex emotions, it is even harder to bear the thought of their suffering at our hands.

A hen's dream!

 It’s also not much fun being an animal in the wild as there seems to be either endless hunters trying to take a pot shot at them for fun or profit; or no end of farmers, developers and other greedy parties chopping away at their forests and jungles.

However, things are slowly changing.

Following a vigorous campaign by the RSPCA and other animals groups against sows in stalls, Coles said it would not buy pork from producers using sow stalls from 2014. And Tasmania has announced that from 2014 sows would not be able to spend more than six weeks in a stall at any one time. Furthermore, the stalls would be banned from 2017. I don’t know why these dates are so far in the future but at least there’s hope.

Furthermore, now Section 52 of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act can be used against food producers who falsely claim that their animals are being well looked after. With this section of the Act and the monies provided by Jan Cameron, there is a much greater chance of obtaining successful prosecutions than previously. This is because powerful and well funded industry groups (and it seems the government),  have supported the primary producers and helped them to fight against meddling do gooders. In the past no one except the RSPCA or the Animal Welfare League has been able to initiate action under the NSW’s Prevention for Cruelty to Animals Act unless they had permission from the minister or director-general of the Department of Primary Industries. 

Another inspiration in the field of animal rights are Ondine and Brian Sherman, the founders of Voiceless.  In the space of 5 years, Voiceless has become renowned as one of Australia’s leading, influential and cutting-edge animal protection groups.

Photo of the Shermans and Hugo Weaving from Voiceless

Voiceless is a non-profit organisation which aims to promote respect and compassion for animals.

According to http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200507/s1415933.htm Voiceless says its approach is “mainstream”: they use a grants program to support the work of existing animal protection organisations, they have a legal arm which works on public policy and law and they have an educational arm which promotes compassion for animals to school-aged children.

“At Voiceless we don’t do raids, we don’t support any illegal activities,” Ondine said. “We are taking a very mainstream and inclusive approach.

“[We need to be] able to put out a very professional image so we can talk to the corporate sector, we can talk to the industry, we can attract people that perhaps aren’t as comfortable being associated with the more protesting style.”

Now these actions are occurring in Australia but don’t forget the great work done by Sir Roger Moore in the UK who managed to get Selfridges to agree to stop selling pate foie gras.

So animals still have a way to go before they can jump for joy but they can feel heartened that many people do really care about their rights. I suppose animals won’t feel totally comforted until they hear that everyone is going vegetarian.

PETS IN CRISIS IN GULF OIL CRISIS!

It seems that the BP oil disaster is a disaster in more ways than one. If it isn’t bad enough that native animals are losing their lives after ingesting gallons of oil, the pets in the region are also suffering.

Since most people in the region make their income in one way or another from the Gulf, the economic impact has meant that as locals lose their jobs they can’t afford to feed themselves, neverlone a pet. So record numbers of pets have been given in to animal shelters.

So if you can, please donate to the Friends of the Animal Shelter of St Bernard who are looking after many of these animals – http://sbpanimal.homestead.com/

Just this Wednesday 100 dogs were loaded up in a truck headed to a shelter in Madison, N.J. The Louisiana SPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and American Humane Association have teamed up for this big transport. The animals are from various shelters around the area including St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society. So you might also like to donate to these charities.

For more information on this disaster for animals see –

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/pawprintpost/post/2010/08/dogs-from-gulf-oil-spill-up-for-adoption/1

http://goodgriefpetloss.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/pets-are-victims-of-the-gulf-oil-spill-too/

http://www.ecosalon.com/the-forgotten-gulf-oil-spill-victims/

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Two interesting stories about our health

Last week I read two articles about health.

One revealed that there has been a big spike in bowel cancer amongst young people. Where traditionally the majority of people who developed bowel cancer have been in the over 50s age group, there is now an unusually high incidence of people in their 20s and 30s with it. As no one is 100% sure of what causes bowel cancer, there was no explanation offered. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/06/2919534.htm

 The other article discussed how children as young as nine have been entering puberty. This was a Danish study but from my understanding, the same is happening in Australia. My friend tells me that her daughter and her daughter’s friends all entered puberty at the age of ten. So why might all the above be occurring? Dr Anders Juul , head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, which carried out the research, and which is a world leader in the study of hormones and growth told the Sunday Times, “’It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children; whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.’ Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1286253/More-girls-starting-puberty-age-nine.html#ixzz0r9jfcbYo

Well my view is that we are all part of a cruel and unusual experiment and these are just two of the outcomes. I believe we all have reason to be very concerned about the future of mankind. Firstly and most importantly, the food we eat is for the most part, a big concern. Our fruit and vegetables are sprayed endless times before they are picked – when they are still green, and then gassed to ripen.

 Supermarkets instruct the consumer to wash fruit and vegetables before eating them, but there is no way in the world that the poisons which have by now been incorporated deep into the tissues of the produce can ever be washed away. Most commercial breads, biscuits, muffins and cakes contain preservatives and anti fungicides. Since breads all seem to contain soy products, there is a fair bet that these are genetically modified if they are sourced from overseas as 90% of the soy crop in the United States is owned by Monsanto Chemicals.

I have often wondered about the saying, ‘the best thing since sliced bread’. When I was young my mother used to make her own bread. I used to love the smell of freshly baked bread and the flavour was awesome, but she stopped making it when my father told her he preferred the taste of packaged bread. How packaged white bread can be seriously called ‘bread’ is beyond me. If it is wet is becomes a gluey white paste. My brother swears that one of the major ingredients in white bread is powdered hens’ feathers from China. Certainly, sliced white bread contains something not quite from this earth!

 Poultry used to be fed hormones to make them grow faster. The poultry industry swears that this is no longer the case. They do admit to routinely feeding poultry antibiotics but they say that the enormous size of chickens is due to selective breeding. I have kept hens for years and they eat very well. However, there is no way they are anything like the size of the ginormous hens in the frozen section of the supermarket.

Our eggs for the most part come from caged hens which are kept in deplorable conditions, forced to lay eggs 24/7 and forced to stay forever in a little cage with no room to move. They never walk and they die young. The sadness they must feel would surely cross over to their eggs and then into our bodies.

Processed meats such as salamis, hams and commercially smoked salmon and fish (other than traditionally cured products) contain carcinogenic chemicals. Pigs are routinely fed antibiotics which are therefore deep in their flesh (the meat we later eat). They are kept in little pens and have their teeth yanked out. Their sadness is also in their flesh. Another additive give to pigs is PST [porcine somatatropin]. PST is a copy of a natural hormone produced in the pig. One wonders why pigs have to be given a copy of a hormone they already have. And why are we supposed to believe that a man made hormone is the same thing as the natural hormone?

And guess what? Beef from northern Australia are given oestrogen-based hormones. A common implant that’s used in northern Australia contains 43 milligrams of oestrogen. Lucky us, especially since the use of hormones in beef production has been banned in Europe since 1989.

This is possibly why a lot of men now suffer from gynecomastia or ‘man boobs’. This is a condition where a man’s body starts producing more oestrogen than testosterone.

The best chance you have is to buy organic food. This will not be sprayed. Ask your butcher for organic meat. If you can’t grind your own flour then at least buy unbleached flour. My friend Joe makes his own sour dough bread. He derides commercial breads as he says that they contain yeast which is a man made product.

This is the problem. We have moved so far from nature that we rarely eat natural foods. The concept of wholefood is a thing of the past. For example, go to the supermarket and see what has happened to milk. I defy the average person to understand the differences between all the milks on the shelf. But the bottom line is that they are no longer the whole milk from the cow. The fat and who knows what else, has been removed, and calcium and vitamins and who knows what else, have been added

! I am very keen on quince paste and I purchased a tin of the paste at a delicatessen this week. When I got home I looked at the ingredients and I certainly wished I’d checked them before I’d bought it. I promptly took it back and asked for a refund. It had been artificially coloured with Allura Red. This colouring has been banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden due to its carcinogenic effects, but it is still allowed in the US and Australia. At least the Danish children can’t blame Allura Red for their puberty blues! But what is it doing to children in other countries?

 To further quote Dr Anders Juul from the article on premature puberty – “We were very surprised that there had been such a change. If girls mature early, they run into teenage problems at an early age and they’re more prone to diseases later on. We should be worried about this regardless of what we think the underlying reasons might be.”

This blog has just been about the dangers in the food we eat. I have not even touched on the dangers in our toothpaste, soap, bath gels, shampoos and hair conditioners. These invariably contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

To quote Wikepedia – Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent.[1] SLES has been shown to produce eye or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects.[2] Some products containing SLES have been found to contain low levels of the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.[3]

In garages, it is used to clean engine oil from the floor because of its powerful degreasing action. However, we have glands in our skin and hair which secrete natural oils to give skin and hair its lovely soft and supple texture and keep it waterproof. So by using Sodium Laureth Sulphate in your hair care products you are stripping your hair of all its natural oils.

Furthermore, it can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, and if it gets into the eyes, can lead to permanent eye damage. Sodium Laureth Sulphate can cause cataracts in adult eyes and cause significant damage to children’s eyes.

 It can pass through the skin where it enters the blood stream. From here it will travel all over the body. It can build up in the liver, kidneys and brain. The body tries to tuck dangerous toxins as far as possible away from internal organs as it can. Hence the body stores toxins in your feet, joints and even testicles. If Sodium Laureth Sulphate is such a great garage degreaser, what damage could it be doing inside our bodies?

 Dr Anders Juul also mentions lack of activity as a possible reason for premature puberty. Children don’t walk anywhere anymore. Their parents drive them to and from school and at home children prefer to play with their computer games rather than with their friends in the park. So, perhaps these are not the causes of the spike in reported bowel cancer or premature puberty, but whatever the cause, the above factors can hardly be beneficial for the long term health of mankind.

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