Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

“as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”

October 16th, 2010 No comments

(Luke 13:34, Mat 23:37)

The background sound for the Virtual Battery Cage came from the undercover video “Inside an Egg Factory Farm” from Compassion Over Killing.  Turn the sound off this one (bottom right corner) before you watch the one below.

If you care about animal welfare, please consider this perspective on “humane” egg production, from the Faces of Free Range Farming, presented by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary who asks these two questions:

1. What happens to ALL of the male chicks – not just few token roosters – but ALL of them?  Here’s a Hint. More here.

2. What happens to the hens when they are no longer laying enough eggs for this facility to be profitable?

What are you actually paying for at the grocery store?  Take a look at the state of “organic” and egg labeling generally from these links:

–  the Cornucopia Institute

–  the Humane Society

Tragic Irony Fail

October 5th, 2010 No comments

Have you seen this one yet?  It’s made it into my email inbox from a couple of different people.  I suspect none of them ever considered what they are saying.

“This is undoubtedly one of the best I have seen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Have a fun filled day.”

(the rest reads like it’s copied from a newspaper article)

“In a zoo in California , a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth.

The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother’s cub’s, perhaps she would improve.

After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species, will take on the care of a different species. The only ‘orphans’ that could be found quickly, were a litter of weanling pigs The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops??

Take a look…”

(And then the moral exhortation comes at the end of the note …)

“Now, please tell me one more time ……..? Why can’t the rest of the world get along??”

In case the irony isn’t obvious, know that all the people who sent this to me all kill (or rather hire out the killing) and eat pigs themselves.  The people who sent me this email literally embody the negative imagery they imagine (and celebrate) this image negating.

“Why can’t the rest of the world get along?”


Entitlement and the American way of life

October 2nd, 2010 No comments

I don’t post too much on other issues but sometimes the overlap between my usual topic and others is instructive.  My usual topic generates from a fundamental bewilderment at the extent to which our notions of what constitutes necessary consumption seem to have degraded our ability to exercise our very humanity in relation to non-human animals.  Learning about the ways in which our basic concrete need for food has been completely subsumed into a dispersion of other abstractions, the way in which food is more the thing signified (class, ethnic, and gender identifier, emotional pacifier, etc.) than the thing itself (mere nutrition), has opened my eyes to the other areas in which we seem to prefer to deal with the symbolic over the real.

We’re  dealing with war and oil in the same ways in which we deal with animals.  We don’t have a framework to deal with the new specifics, the new realities so we just don’t … as if what we don’t want to see won’t hurt us.  We don’t have a framework for parsing knowledge about the extent to which they (other animals, or other people if they stand between us and getting what we think we’re entitled to)  are sentient, self-aware, conscious beings into behavior change so we try mightily to deny that they are and clutch ever more tightly to the fiction of our own uniqueness in those respects.  Similarly, we deny that our lust for cheap meat is coming at a price we don’t want to pay ethically and environmentally.  We’re entitled to it after all.  It reminds me in a way of the story about Israelites longing for meat and being destroyed by their own desire.  Kibroth-hattaavah means “graves of longing.”

“If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you—” (Num 11:18–20 NRSV) … But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague. So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.” (Num 11:32–34 NRSV)

We seem to be at a place where we prefer seeing through the glass dimly for fear clarity will come with a call.  It’s as if the positive aspiration of freedom to choose how we meet our needs has morphed into the negative notion of freedom from having to choose at all, and isn’t that the essence of entitlement?

In that light I share these words from an interview with Andrew Bacevich

Guernica: Throughout this interview you’ve suggested America scale back its global presence and its policy of interventionism. But that seems increasingly unlikely in light of our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve passed peak oil and it seems likely that many future wars will be fought over it.

Andrew Bacevich: This gets to the heart of the dilemma. What we call the American way of life is premised on expectations of a very high level of personal mobility, which presumes the availability of large amounts of very cheap energy. Given the way the economy has evolved over the last eighty or one hundred years, to cut to the chase, American freedom as we understand it requires lots of cheap oil. Therefore, in order for us to make a serious effort to wean ourselves from this ever-growing dependency would require us rethinking American freedom—revising the American way of life. Were we flexible in that regard, then options to significantly reorient our energy policy would become available. But there is very little evidence that we are willing to bend. The Jimmy Carter malaise speech of 1979 that I wrote about in my previous book continues to be a very telling episode. Carter was courageously and farsightedly trying to get Americans to recognize that there was something very insidious about this dependence on foreign oil. He connected it to our understanding of freedom and he challenged us to re-think freedom. We rejected that council and opted instead to listen to Ronald Reagan who said we could have everything we want forever. We are living with the consequences. And Carter’s abject failure to get Americans to acknowledge the negative consequences of the American way of life scared the bejesus out of the entire political class so nobody is willing to talk about sacrifice; nobody is willing to talk about American culture as part of the problem— but it is part of the problem. It is that fact which emphasizes the extent to which there really are no easy solutions. We are our own worst enemy.

Guernica: When you say ‘revising the American way of life,’ what do you mean—a simpler life?

Andrew Bacevich: To define freedom in a way that is not as intimately connected with conspicuous consumption and individual autonomy. And yes, that probably means in a material sense to be willing to live with less. Try to have that be your campaign slogan and run for the presidency: ‘Vote for me and I will help you live with less.’ [Laughter]

Moses had that problem too.

Creatures, flesh, and my faith

August 4th, 2009 No comments

As someone who holds a position underneath the radar of most conservative Christian thought, I find myself often struggling with the seeming futility of the things I care about.  Why would I hope for a time when we will gaze out into the world and see animals as fellow creatures of God when we can barely look at other people and see fellow children of God.  More days than not I wish I could just forget about what I know, what I’ve seen, what I continue to see about what we are in relation to the creatures at our mercy.  If it were possible to say this literally I’d say that it literally makes my soul throw up.

One of this week’s readings in a little book called “A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People” is from a book called Living Simply, and it’s about how living differently in relation to the world around us can be properly meaningful.  People ask me why I don’t eat meat and there are so many reasons that sometimes it’s hard to give the short quippy sound-bite answer most people are looking for.  I’d like to use the points from this week’s devotional to break it down.  I get the feeling that most people think I’m constantly struggling to fight back my meat cravings, that I’m involved in some sort of ascetic battle against my own mind and body.  That’s just so not true.  I saw the truth, it didn’t line up with my values, I changed my behavior.  Period.  In other words, I’ve reoriented … Read more…

2048. The End of the Line. Oceans Without Fish

June 18th, 2009 No comments

To quote Brian McLaren, “Everything Must Change“.  No but seriously,  Everything.

for theological reference … The Belly and the Body in the Pauline Epistles.

Straight Talk from the Mad Cowboy

June 14th, 2009 No comments

Howard Lyman, a.k.a. the Mad Cowboy … from cattle rancher to vegan activist.  It’s not like he doesn’t have any experience with what he’s talking about in his book.  Go Howard.  “Plain truth from the cattle rancher who won’t eat meat.”

100 years

part 1

part 2

Bill Maher, Michael Pollan, Food Inc.

June 1st, 2009 No comments

Bill Maher interviews Michael Pollen about his new book, In Defense of Food, in his 5/29 show.  Pollen isn’t exactly a vegetarian but … as they say, if they’re not against you, they’re with you. (In the time since I originally posted this I’ve learned how much Pollen actually falls into the “against you” category.  Even so I suppose I would still write the next sentence.) I don’t care where the information comes from at this point as long as people start hearing it.  The best part comes at 2:50 … about the rate / amount of change in our diets in the last 50 years compared to our entire history.  Go Bill.  (if the video gets pulled you might try bill maher’s site?)  Anyway it was a great show.

Now that the movie is out … see it for yourself.  Food Inc.

While you’re at it … there’s also Earthlings.

City-wide Veg for a Day!

May 15th, 2009 No comments

From the BBC …

The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Doin’ the happy dance …

Sexuality and Meat, part 1

January 27th, 2009 No comments

PETA is making waves (hard to imagine, I know) with a superbowl ad that’s supposedly ‘too sexual’ to be aired on tv.  This is as good a time as any to start the sex and food discussion.  So, in this first installment, take a look at both these ads below and ask yourself why there might be different reactions to the two of them. I think they’re both ridiculous but that’s not the point.  It’s about the story behind the story.

What’s the difference between these two videos?  It’s easier to see the imagery if you turn the sound off.

1)  add for hamburgers (don’t miss the fact that she’s wearing some kind of fur that she drops in the beginning, white fur no less …)

2) add for vegetarianism

Most of the usual feedback I hear when PETA does stuff like this is that it somehow reflects poorly on the concept of animal rights and vegetarianism – not just the women who participate in the add.

Why is the first video not generally accused of reflecting poorly on the concept of meat eating?

What do you notice about the settings the women are in, what additional meaning does the scene selection convey?

Would you say the target audience is the same for both?  Why or why not?

Prius Driving Meat Eater – What Gives?

January 17th, 2009 No comments

A little progress on the Prius-driving meat eater front, from Audobon …

But fossil fuel combustion is just part of the climate–diet equation. Ruminants—cows and sheep—generate a powerful greenhouse gas through their normal digestive processes (think burping and emissions at the other end). What comes out is methane (23 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2) and nitrous oxide (296 times more powerful).

Indeed, accounting for all factors, livestock production worldwide is responsible for a whopping 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s more than the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses, planes, and trains combined.

So why do we so rarely talk about meat consumption when discussing global warming in America? Compact fluorescent bulbs? Biking to work? Buying wind power? We hear it nonstop. But even the super-liberal, Prius-driving, Green Party activist in America typically eats chicken wings and morning bacon like everyone else. While the climate impacts of meat consumption might be new to many people, the knowledge of meat’s general ecological harm is not at all novel. So what gives?

read the whole article in Audobon here

I’ve talked about this here “Intelligent and Free?”, in a post with links to other off-site articles, as well.

Go directly to the U.N. report Livestock’s Long Shadow.