Sunday, March 21, 2010

Birmingham Jail Letter

This link is to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birmingham Jail Letter, and I hope you'll grab a cup of coffee or tea and read it. It moved me to tears and got my heart beating with passion, and I hope it will do the same for you.

If you do read it, I would ask you think about its implications today; for you and I, and write your thoughts as comments to this blog. Let us not read such meaningful words and let them slip into the recesses of our dimly lit memories. Let us read them and be inspired to act today. To further the movement toward justice of which King was a part.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss

How unfortunate it is that this title is even necessary. How telling it is about the society we have all built together. One in which we would tend to shy from the truth instead of change our habits or be challenged to re-think our paradigms. Although I am just as guilty of this as many, I have found a topic that is simultaneously intentionally hidden from us, and drastically harms the environment, our personal and public health, and the ability of God's created animals to live decent and natural lives.

When it comes to the food we eat, ignorance is not bliss.

The way the vast majority our food, especially meat (we'll talk veggies another time) - easily over 80% for all types of meat, but 99% for poultry - is produced today would be unrecognizable to the farmer of the early 1900's. Perhaps the only thing that farmer would recognize are the animals themselves. Although maybe not, since hundreds of thousands (industry numbers) of cattle, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are either so deformed from disease and genetic manipulation, or mutilated by living conditions by the time they reach slaughter, that they are a far cry from what nature helped that early farmer grow.

So why do we still think farming takes place on the 'family farm'? The answer is simpler than many would have us believe: because the meat and agribusiness industry want us to think that. Their meat and dairy products wouldn't sell as well if, instead of a cow on green pasture on on their packaging, they showed a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) and a slaughter house that lets animals be scalded alive or bleed out while flailing, fully conscience, upside down. Yea, that might hurt the quarterly report.

So I'm going to be writing more about the food industry in subsequent blogs. I'll start with what I hope is a good enough reason to re-think your meat consumption by itself: personal and public health. Then I'll move on to the real and terrible ways our environment and animals are affected for those who need more convincing (I'll be honest, when it came to the burgers I enjoy so much, it took all three of these to change my mind for good).

My hope in writing about this is not to be a 'downer' or to guilt anyone into anything. My hope is to open our eyes. To help us realize that it is our right and responsibility to know not only where our own food comes from, but where our children's and parents' food comes from as well. Let us start tipping the scales in the way we purchase food to show the meat (and agribusiness) industries that we actually care about the way they treat what we put in our bodies. Let's unite in common concern for our brothers and sisters not only in the US, but all over the 'developed' and 'developing' world.

Food matters. It is literally what sustains us. So let's start buying it like it does. There are FAR more things to consider at the grocery store than our wallets or bank accounts. Far more important things. Join me.