Posts tagged ‘video’

Word to your mother.

When I was little, my grandmother taught me not to kill bugs.  Of course I wanted to know why, and she explained to me that I could be killing somebody’s mom or dad.

I was horrified.  I imagined elaborate scenes of a worried mother and baby spiders around a kitchen table, waiting for Papa Spider to walk through the door at any minute, with his tie and tiny spider briefcase.  But Papa Spider wouldn’t make it home from work that day.  ‘Cause I offed him.

Needless to say, I stopped killing bugs.  But I think it was a couple of years before I began applying this principle to food.  I remember the exact restaurant, and the booth I was sitting in when I started wondering about the gender of the food on my plate.  This animal that I had never met died to keep me alive — I can’t think of a relationship more personal than that — and it seemed like something as basic as gender shouldn’t be kept a mystery.  If it was somebody’s mother, was her offspring still alive and now an orphan?

Back then, I was obviously too young to be familiar with the concept of the factory farm.  Now I know that the reality for mothers is far worse than I ever could have imagined as a child.

  • pigs. A mother pig is confined to a metal crate for all of her adult life, without enough space to turn around.  She is artificially inseminated, and confined to a gestation crate during her pregnancy.  Her muscles atrophy, and it is likely that she will develop open sores from lack of movement, and from laying in her own excrement.  After giving birth, she will be moved to a slightly larger farrowing crate, which allows just enough space for the piglets to nurse from outside the bars.  That is the only contact they will have with their mother.  For the mother pig, this is her life for 3 or 4 years, one litter after the next, until she is slaughtered.  Pigs are very intelligent and social animals, and experience severe mental distress under confinement.  With nothing to do, they compulsively chew the bars of their stall, and may go insane.  The horrible conditions of sow stalls have lead to their ban in the UK and Sweden.  In the past six years, they have also been banned in Florida, Arizona, and California.
  • chickens. Farmed chickens never meet their mothers.  In a natural setting, hens cluck to their eggs, and chicks can be heard chirping from inside their shells.  After hatching, chicks in the egg industry are sorted by sex using a conveyor belt system.  Male chicks are useless because they do not lay eggs, and are thrown live into a macerator.  Watch an undercover video of the world’s largest hatchery here.
  • cows. Mothers in the dairy industry are constantly kept pregnant, in order to keep producing milk.  Males are also useless in this industry, so the survival of male calves is not important.  Those who do survive are sold to veal farms, where they are kept in crates to limit their movement, deprived of their mother’s milk, and slaughtered after 4-6 months.  Female calves are also not allowed access to their mother’s milk — it’s on reserve for human consumption.  I don’t understand how more people don’t have a problem with this.  Taking milk away from a baby cow is like pushing down a little kid to take their ice cream cone.  Almost literally.

So now that I’ve used Mother’s Day as an excuse to bum people out, I’ll end with a video of Sonny and Casanova, two rescued veal calves, my brothers from another mother.  I can guarantee that the part when they meet for the first time will make you smile.


May 10, 2010 at 1:11 am 6 comments


To prove that I can feed myself tasty, ethical meals for cheaper than a fast food dollar menu.

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