Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ignorance on Parade

I feel bad for people who make a stand on positions of ignorance. Take Burger King for example. Apparently, the #2 burger joint in the nation is going to "begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that did not confine their animals in cages and crates." I admit, I don't know much about chickens, but I helped raise hogs for about a decade.

Burger King wants "10 percent of its pork to come from pig farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates." Of course, for those of us who know (and Burger King clearly does not) allowing sows to "move around" in their pens and not be in cages mean that hundreds and hundreds more baby pigs will be crushed and suffocated to death.

Do you know why sows are put into crates? Because when sows are tired and lie down, they don't care what they lay on, and often lay on top of their own young. Maybe one or two baby pigs a day will be crushed to death, screaming for hours until they finally give up. (You can tell which ones get crushed by sows because they die with their tongues hanging out; screaming.) Crates confine sows and allow the baby pigs some safe room to move around so that the sows can't squash them. Which is more humane?

Next, my favorite taco joint, Chipotle, is about as stupid as Burger King. Here's a sign they routinely display:

We serve naturally raised pork and chickens
*never given antibiotics
*never given growth hormones
*humanely raised
*vegetarian fed

Do you know what this sign means? It means the pigs it buys for pork were sick a lot. I'm not so keen on growth hormones, or vegetarian-fed animals, but if they were never given antibiotics they are telling me that their pigs were sick and did not receive treatment.

Pigs are like us in many ways (biologically very much so) and as a pig farmer, if you go out and hear pigs coughing (yes, they cough) then you find out what they are sick with (often the flu) and give them some yummy anti-biotic powder, or if you are serious a shot of antibiotics. All Chipotle is advertising is that their pigs were sick. A lot. And a number of them most likely died from the elements, since I doubt they were housed indoors (un)"humanely."

Before these big chains restaurants start advertising their ignorance, they should learn few facts about the livestock they depend on.

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