the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?



mystery meat no more…
February 28, 2013, 7:25 am
Filed under: food, food issues, meat | Tags: , , ,

Ok and then there’s this, just in from south africa. More diverse animals used in burgers. Donkeys, water buffalo and goat? Ugh, I need to stop reading the news for awhile i think.

sustainably dining– options and catering
April 20, 2012, 2:07 pm
Filed under: food issues, grocery stores, meat | Tags: , , , , , ,

In honor of earth day, I’ve been thinking (again and here) about the general ungreeness of catering for business meetings. We’re having a big dinner for fancy guests at work. It’s a biennial event, and it’s held at the University Club. This year the dining options came in doodle form. The way it was sent out, you could see all the options that everyone else picked. And here’s how it broke down:

10–Herb Crusted Filet of Beef
17–Blackened Red Snapper
7–Vegetable Napoleon

Ok. So check it out..#1 that’s a lot of veggie options! Go team!! We could talk at length about the quality of said option–a stack of eggplant and zucchini most likely? Not too exciting. These veggie diners must be committed. Filet of Beef sounds more appetizing. And it got a bunch of votes–at least it sounds like a fancier option–herb crusted? But the 2-1 winner–red snapper.

It’s pretty impressive to see that so many people are not choosing meat! It seems like we are indeed winning the battle to have people become more mindful and eat less meat!

However, red snapper. Not too impressive. This is a fish that is on the Monterrey Bay fish to avoid list. It is overfished and in decline.

It makes me so sad that people just aren’t yet aware of how their desire to be healthy–and eat less red meat–impacts wild fish stock! I’d rather that people eat the beef, as at least that is farmed–and we can make more.

This dinner is held at a university with a bunch of academics–if these people (whole foods shoppers all, I imagine) don’t know, then who does?

I’m glad to see that whole foods is making some choices in the fish they carry, but we need to find a way to get caterers (and diners) make these choices too!

My best pal’s wedding is a nice case in point. To be held at a downtown restaurant, the dinner has a veggie option but also feature arctic char. This is a fish I really know zero about, but the Monterey Bay list helpfully informed me that this a good choice! Whew!! Arctic char, unlike its name suggests, is not actually from the arctic, but is farm-raised. And unlike farm-raised salmon, it is primarily grown in-land–so the risks of contaminating wild fish stocks is pretty darn low!

The Monterrey Bay Fish List is a pretty cool resource. It’s neat to see that a museum is able to be an agent of change! Go to theirwebsite and you can download a regionally appropriate pocket guide to seafood!

chickens in the factory, climate change edition

Have you hugged your power plant today?

I just can’t stop thinking about a story I heard a few weeks back. 50,000 chickens/4300 turkeys die in separate cases of power outages (one in NC and one in Kansas). Get this, 50,000 chickens died after the power was out for 45 minutes. Less than an hour. 45 minutes between life and death. How horrifying. And it took the folks 26 hours to bury all those turkeys.

Apparently our food system is just this fragile. The birds are jammed in there, it’s hot and needs ventilation even if it’s not 100 degrees outside. A quick google search shows that this is not an isolated incident.

July 2011: Minnesota, reporting nearly 50,000 turkeys died in the heat.
September 2010: 60,000 chickens die in North Carolina. A generator powering fans in the chicken houses quit working.

And Meat & Poultry report that nearly 100,000 broilers have been reported lost to the heat wave in July. In the northern areas, barns don’t have great ventilation systems. Some grow sheds have 20,000 birds in them!

So while some of the farms have back up generators to power the fans, any interruption of the power supply can lead to major losses. Hard to believe that less than an hour is all is takes to do it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change, and while plans suggest that cows will produce less milk in climate change models, I didn’t connect the dots to see that for factory farms, there will be a much increased reliance on a stable power supply. Spooky side effects of factory farming people! Spooky. And really, just a big waste for a pile of unnoticed, unmemorable, tasteless drug-laden,  protein nuggets.

vegetarian options in restaurants changing
May 2, 2011, 6:53 am
Filed under: food, food issues, meat | Tags: , , , , ,

Ah, I knew that we were not alone. Here’s an article that appeared in Huffington Post.
changing tide of food preferences article

Alas, poor Kathy advocates vegan options. I can’t imagine the frustration level involved in that choice. It’s hard enough to do the lacto-ovo version. She tries to put a positive spin on the changes, but the comments indicate the tensions out there–just eat meat, you loser kind of thing. She calls up some stats on growing interest in eating less animal protein, and links to recent surveys out there. Keep up the good fight Kathy! We’re with you on that!

Here’s a link to the poll and post about our recent data collecting on the ‘veg option’. Yes people do like to eat veg–even if they’re meat eaters.

vegetarian options update NO version
April 10, 2011, 10:36 am
Filed under: food, food issues, meat, travels | Tags: , , , ,

Well we’re visiting the land of the pig. New Orleans. So far we’re managing to find good stuff to eat that is not bacon. Now that we’ve started the poll we’re collecting data on our travels. Overheard at our breakfast spot yesterday–Server, yeah we’re out of the fruit side dish. Girl, ok i’ll take the bacon.” Sheesh!!

At a breakfast meeting this morning–doode notes that everyone finished their fruit and there were three heaping plates of bacon left over. How much bacon can a person eat? Folks are TRYING to eat healthy!!

Poll: vegetarians at the business lunch
April 6, 2011, 6:37 pm
Filed under: food, food issues, meat, travels | Tags: , ,

We’re starting a poll here at Turdacres. Have you ever noticed this:

no more veggie all the rest are meat

We go to a lot of business meetings when we’re not home at the Acres, and it is so interesting to see how people choose to set up a lunch. So many times we see platters upon platters of meat options and only the slightest nod to the veggie-preferring folks. Have times changed? Are people choosing the veggie options when presented because they’re trying to be healthy? Are they trying to not eat meat at every meal? Or what?

I would love it if we could recast the conversation for those old fogies who make the lunch orders. Instead of thinking that only vegetarians like to not eat the meat sandwich. A meatarian can eat veggies from time to time! And shocker–they may actually WANT to. Who wants to eat some gross cold cut as their meat option for the day, methinks, if you were going to eat the stuff, wouldn’t you want to eat it when you know it’s worth it, and GOOD??

Instead of framing the conversation as “let’s provide something for the vegetarians weirdos to eat” could we help our meeting organizers think–let’s provide some healthy options, as we’re all trying to cut down on our meat consumption.

If we really stretched ourselves we might even take this to an “it’s greener” level. All of this meat wasted is much worse for the environment than a bunch of veggie sandwiches. Sigh. I’m just tired of feeling like a complete whiner for requesting a non-meat lunch–when it’s CLEAR that a LOT of people prefer it!!

What do you think about this issue. Please take this poll. I’d also love to hear your comments! Thanks!

I’ve been looking around the web for any kinds of references to these issues. I’d love it if you could share some with me. I did find this one..how to host a sustainable meeting in Brussels. You go, Brussels! This is so needed. Common sense recommendations like have carafes of water instead of bottles, reduce amount of meat–as it has a large carbon footprint. Source local food, and try and avoid waste. There’s no great solution for paper and plastic dishes and utensils. That’s a big one we see a lot in our meeting settings.