Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Animal Compassionate

Yesterday morning, while negotiating the treacherous merge from the Mass Pike onto 128, I heard a mention of Whole Food's Animal Compassionate Label. Later in the day, there was also a brief mention on Channel 4 news. But when I checked on any announcement coming out of Whole Food's, the Animal Compassionate Label story was so yesterday. In fact, it was so yesterday that it was three years ago.

Still, it remains very interesting and laudable that they're committed to decent treatment of animals. I'm sure that we'd all turn into overnight vegetarians - vegans, even - if we really thought for a moment about how our tasty pre-meat is treated. For those (like me) who missed the story the first time around, here's what Whole Foods said at the time:

Animal welfare requirements already mandatory for any meat and poultry sold at Whole Foods Market include:

  • No antibiotics or added growth hormones ever.
  • Annual affidavit from each producer outlining the raising and handling practices, feed, facility design, environmental conditions, employee training, medical practices, and animal welfare at the farm, in transportation, and throughout processing.
  • Annual inspection of each producer's operation by Whole Foods Market.
  • Successful completion of an independent third-party food safety audit of each operation's processing plant and a humane slaughter audit according to a rating system developed by world-renown animal welfare and facility design expert, Dr. Temple Grandin.

The next phase of Whole Foods Market's animal welfare standards further underscores the company's belief that the needs of an animal should be the first criteria in the development of standards. The primary focus will be providing environments and conditions for each species that support the animal's natural physical needs, behavior, and well-being. Work on the new "animal compassionate" standards will start with the development of enhanced animal welfare standards for ducks with the goal of completion and implementation by the end of 2004.

Development of standards for each of the other species will follow.

I'm guessing that today's little flurry of announcements means that Whole Foods (a.k.a., Whole Wallet: let's face it, being kind to our web footed friends doesn't come cheap) has added more species to its list, but I don't know for sure.

OK, it's easy to make fun of any worry about 'animal welfare standards for ducks' when there's wholesale slaughter in Darfur, Iraq is veering toward irredeemable maelstrom, and the Polar ice-cap is slip sliding into the drink (taking with it the increasingly habitat-less Polar bears). Without becoming a PETA activist, there is something at least partially enobling (and no doubt healthier) about treating our furry, feathered, and finned friends well before we ingest them. But there is also something a little peculiar about it to, since the logical end really seems to be that these guys are bred for slaughter, and real animal compassion would probably involve not eating them to begin with. Then, of course, we wouldn't need all those animals to begin with, so they'd never even have their time on earth, however nasty, brutal, and short.

I sense an existential moment coming on. Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh. (Tonight: salad only.)

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