Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween House of Horror

While Americans will be having a day of fun today, dressing up in ghoulish (and other) costumes, going to parties, visiting houses of horror, and doing other spooky things, the terror never ends for millions of birds raised for meat in the US and it's going to get worse.  According to The Washington Post
Nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive each year in U.S. slaughterhouses, often because fast-moving lines fail to kill the birds before they are dropped into scalding water, Agriculture Department records show.  Now the USDA is finalizing a proposal that would allow poultry companies to accelerate their processing lines, with the aim of removing pathogens from the food supply and making plants more efficient. But that would also make the problem of inhumane treatment worse, according to government inspectors and experts in poultry slaughter.  USDA inspectors assigned to the plants say much of the cruel treatment they witness is tied to the rapid pace at which employees work, flipping live birds upside down and shackling their legs. If the birds are not properly secured, they might elude the automated blade and remain alive when they enter the scalder. Over the past five years, an annual average of 825,000 chickens and 18,000 turkeys died this way, USDA public reports show, representing less than 1 percent of the total processed. Government inspectors assigned to the plants document these kills, which are easily spotted because the birds’ skin becomes discolored.
It doesn't have to be this way.  For those of you who eat meat, you don't have to give it up in order to opt out of this cruel system.  Look to local farmers who raise their animals in healthy environments and slaughter them humanely.  Yes, it is more expensive but that's because of the time and care that goes into ethical practices.  At one conference I attended, someone brought up the issue of cost.  An attendee raised her hand and responded with the statement that the answer is to purchase the more expensive but humanely raised meat and to just eat less of it in order to stay within your budget.  
A typical "cage-free" egg facility
It's not just meat birds that are raised in inhumane conditions.  Chickens raised as "layers" in factory farms endure horrific conditions, a sad repayment for the eggs that they provide.
Photo: Heavy traffic on the way to work this morning.
Our hens enjoy freedoms that are unknown to factory chickens.  
So now that you know the true life horror story, you have a choice.  You can either continue to participate in the gruesome system, knowing the tortured lives of the creatures whose flesh you eat, or refuse to support the companies behind the cruelty by finding farms where chickens and turkeys are humanely raised.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, please consider serving a humanely raised and slaughtered turkey.

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