Above: Standard housing for egg laying chickens who supply the food industry with eggs. Five to six hens live in a cage.
Proposition 2 is raising a lot of arguments in California and you might remember that I first wrote about Prop 2 back in July.
If you live in the state I’d be interested in hearing what you think about this proposition. This is the proposition that changes the required standards for animals raised for food.
Personally, I try to buy free range and organic animal products but live in an area where people don’t really focus on the quality of the product. Instead they focus on cost and, until recently, it was hard to buy organic locally.
What has happened recently is the local organic market supports those farmers and ranchers that are local. The food is fresh, tasty, and wholesome.
However it is not always cheap but some products are very competitive with lesser quality foods.
The issue of economics has people worried about this proposition. Will the products be imported from other countries? Will it put farmers out of business? Can those farmers convert in time to meet the 2015 deadline?
In the past, many people raised their own food locally. It was common to find farm stands and locally produced meat because Los Angeles was not as congested as it is today.
Orange County really was filled with orange groves and avocado groves and other fruit and nut trees were found throughout San Diego County. Dairy farms were also found in the rural areas of Corona, Escondido, and my home town of San Pedro.
It is not too long a drive down the mountain to Oak Glen where we can get fresh apples but Redlands is currently destroying more citrus groves (Citrus Plaza is a fairly new big shopping mall that replaced a grove.) and many of the old farm houses stand empty with fruit rotting on the ground.
My point? Today getting locally produced food is getting harder and it doesn’t matter if it is plant or animal.
Many animal products today that are riddled with antibiotics or hormones and I am mortified that a large number of consumers do not know where their meat, milk, and eggs come from—other than the grocery store. It is hard to fathom.
Naturally produced organic food tastes different and many cultures believe “you are what you eat” because when you consume something what goes into that animal (or even plants) is assimilated into your system.
Just think what stressed and traumatized animals or creatures riddled with hormones and antibiotics add to your body.
When I look at young kids today I see early development and increased size that I didn’t see twenty years ago. I can’t help but wonder just how much of this is due to what we consume?
This position does not affect plant producers but did you know that petroleum and other chemicals are made into fertilizer?
Just think, food production animals eat that food which is absorbed into their system and the animal products people eat.
Oprah just did a special called, “How we treat the animals we eat” contrasting traditional farming with free range farms.
There are pros for the animals and cons raised by those who are actively farming in the traditional manner.
In addition to the economics, how will production be affected and how much more land will be needed for those farmers that would have to convert by 2015 if Proposition 2 passes?
One of the egg producers on the show said that only 5% of consumers purchase free range eggs.
I used to live in an area that still supported a dairy farm and an egg ranch. The smell was horrid throughout the area and I can’t imagine what it was like inside the commercial hen houses. I never entered the egg ranch but the smell was enough to put me off buying eggs produced by it because of my concerns over the hens and their production.
Not too far away the dairy cows had a large area but it was overcrowded and not very clean. I remember the first time I visited a home in the area. It was a night and I thought their septic tank was rotten or backing up into the home.
Fortunately there were some great organic markets in the area and they had competitive pricing on humanely farmed meats, eggs, and dairy due to the volume of business they had.
Here in the mountains I always question the condition of the animals producing when sale eggs are offered for 2 for 1 or even $.99 per dozen.
Personally, I think the disservice comes from foreign trade and the mindset so addicted to cheap products. We get products of lesser quality and cheaper pricing and think nothing of the working conditions of the people who work to produce those items or the animals the products comes from.
I believe food pricing falls into the same mentality as seen in the airline industry. Airlines now nickel and diming people instead of charging what is needed to cover the costs of food, drinks, and luggage.
The discount mentality is a disservice—not to mention irritating. I’d rather spend a bit more and have everything included. And I rather spend more on products that are locally produced and that I know are a healthier choice for me and the planet.
Wouldn’t making that choice and increasing the demand for better products drive the prices down eventually?
The issue in Proposition 2 is strictly related to humane housing but I see it as all tied together which is why I bring much of this up.
Traditionally calves tethered in the crates are often riddled with intestinal problems, sores from rubbing on the sides of the crate, and are often soaked in urine where they lie.
Fed a liquid diet and confined, many can’t walk when they are removed from the confinement.
According to one industry expert, group housing is a goal that is going to be a standard in the future but how much room does that translate to?
Similar to calves, pregnant sows are also confined in small areas with no room to turn around. When they give birth they are moved to other cages where they can suckle their piglets but that situation doesn’t look much better.
Hens are commonly crowded into small cages inside large buildings with little room to turn and stretch. I know that in the past, beaks were often clipped to prevent them from injuring each other.
Animals born and raised in these conditions don’t know anything else—but does that make it right?
So, my question to you is do you think that cheap food costs are more important than housing standards for food source animals?
I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen changes in the standards of care for captive animals and some of the food producers in areas I’ve lived.
Regulations don’t always solve the problem but it is clear that change is needed.
I am interested in what you think about this issue so please comment below.
You can read more about Proposition 2 and the pros and cons at Ballotpedia. If you are an animal advocate you can also learn about the humane slaughter petition by visiting the Humane Farming Association’s website.