When Americans hand out Halloween candy this week they may inadvertently be contributing to the destruction of orangutan habitat thousands of miles away.
But don't feel guilty. Instead, do something about it.
Many types of Halloween candy - and lots of other packaged foods in the United States - contain palm oil, much of which is farmed in Malaysia and Indonesia, where orangutans live. Wild forests that support the endangered orangutan are being chopped down and burned to grow geometric rows of trees that ultimately produce oil.
Like in a scene from an apocalyptic parable, dark carcasses of cows and steers lie motionless in silent clusters across swaths of South Dakota.
An early blizzard caught ranchers off guard this week in the state, killing as many as 20,000 head of cattle, a state official says.
But ranchers say they are the real victims.
Thousands of hens were rescued from certain death and flown across the country in a private plane to start a new life of freedom. A California group called Animal Place rescued 3,000 egg-laying hens about to be killed at a commercial egg farm. Rescuers say these hens are what the egg industry calls "spent hens" and are routinely killed when they’re only two years old.
Today, a federal appeals court decided to uphold California's statewide ban on the production and sale of foie gras, the French delicacy of fattened duck or goose liver. The ban went into effect on July 1, 2012.
The plaintiffs - the Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec (a Canadian association of duck and geese farmers), California-based Hot's Restaurant Group and New York's Hudson Valley Foie Gras - asserted the ban interfered with interstate commerce and was too vaguely worded.
Judge Harry Pregerson wrote the opinion for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying: "Plaintiffs give us no reason to doubt that the State believed that the sales ban in California may discourage the consumption of products produced by force feeding birds and prevent complicity in a practice that it deemed cruel to animals."
Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.
Transparency in food and agriculture can have different meanings to different groups of people. As Illinois farmer, Katie Pratt, recently discussed on Eatocracy, transparency includes having an open mind for education on both sides of the plate. The issue of animal slaughter is a topic that brings much heated discussion. Recent efforts to improve the transparency in this area continue to be met with much resistance.
The New York Times ran an opinion article titled “Open the Slaughterhouses” that opened debate on the "ag gag" bills and our ability to report cases of animal cruelty. As the author suggests, increasing visibility in slaughterhouses would be a good thing, but there is a problem with that. Americans are so far removed from the reality and graphic nature of the process of death, that images of animal slaughter can stir quite the negative response.
Editor's note: Isha Datar is the director of New Harvest, a nonprofit group founded in 2004 to promote the development of cultured meat.
On Monday, three lucky diners nibbled a $325,000 burger - not in the name of luxury but in the name of science, animal rights and sustainability. The meat was grown in a lab.
This in-vitro hamburger is "cultured" in many different ways: It's the product of human ingenuity, it's considerate of humans, animals and the planet, and it's produced through growing cells.
Some residents of Grand Isle, Vermont, don’t want to talk about what happened in that blue building on Pearl Street. Others have an awful lot to say on the matter.
A cattle trailer, spray-painted in red with the Animal Liberation Front’s acronym “ALF,” still sits out front of the complex now shrouded in overgrown weeds.
It’s an eerie reminder of the events just four years ago that thrust this tiny town of fewer than 2,000 people into the national spotlight.
In October 2009, the now-deserted structure – which once housed the veal processing plant Bushway Packing Inc. - was permanently shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after an animal protection organization, the Humane Society of the United States, revealed an undercover video showing plant workers kicking, dragging, stunning and skinning live calves that were less than a month old.
It was yet another blow to the U.S. veal industry, which has long been mired in conflict with animal welfare groups because of its use of crates to restrain the calves’ movement.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, consumers seldom cite animal welfare as a concerning food issue but express it as “a matter of high concern” for veal.
But just 40 miles from where that horrifying video was filmed in Grand Isle, in the small town of Fairfield, Vermont, the folks behind Stony Pond Farm are among a number of smaller-scale dairy farmers trying to persuade consumers and fellow farmers alike to think outside the pen when it comes to veal – and they’re aiming to make more humane rearing and slaughtering practices an industry standard.
The world's first stem cell burger was cooked and eaten in London today.
The brainchild of Maastricht University's Mark Post, the burger was made of 20,000 small strands of meat grown from a cow's muscle cells and took three months to create.
Breadcrumbs and some egg powder were added to the cultured beef to make it taste like a normal beef burger. To give it a beefy color, red beet juice and saffron were added. Chef Richard McGeown fried the stem cell burger with sunflower oil and butter and remarked that it looked slightly paler than a traditional burger.