Sunday, May 07, 2006

Nosy neighbors

Reading through my Friends list yesterday, I topped, as always, at 's and read yet another food related post. I love her take on food and, having recently read both of her New Orleans-based books, Liquor and Prime, was shocked to see Whole Foods has jumped on the PETA bandwagon. I decided to check things out.

Basically, Whole Foods told one of their suppliers, Grimaud Farms, they either had to stop selling their ducks to Sonoma Foie Gras or Whole Foods would stop buying ducks from them. PETA strikes again. They seem determined to police the food industry as well as the fur, medical and every other industry where animals are involved, even to the point of destroying equipment and anything else, including people, that get in their way.

I wanted to know how foie gras was really produced so I checked it out. One such farm producing foie gras (in France of course) is a model of how things are run. It is a sizable operation, but by no means the kind of corporate conveyor belt operation that currently -- and nominally -- passes as a farm in the U.S. where veal, chicken, pork, beef, etc. are grown and produced. After all, it's all about the money. By that I mean it is all about THEIR money and not saving money for consumers, which would be us.

My curiosity took me a lot further than just the foie gras issue and onto the track of waste in England where corporate farms throw away literally tons of good edible food because it's isn't cosmetically pleasing enough. The peppers are too red when they should be yellow or the green-yellow peppers don't have the right blend of both colors, and on and on and on. I have seen films where piles of fruit and vegetables are dumped to rot, thus creating breeding grounds for rodents, insects and disease, just because they weren't good looking enough or had outer leaves that were wilting or damaged, and this despite the fact that the food wasn't destined for grocery produce shelves but to be used in cooked foods that will be canned, frozen or freeze dried, as if the way the food looks makes any difference. However, we all know it's about how something looks and not how nutritious, edible or useful it is that counts.

Instead of throwing away the outer leaves or selling the produce anyway, or donating the fruits and vegetables to orphanages, homeless shelters, nursing homes or a thousand other places where the food would be consumed, it is dumped and left to rot. I guess since fruits and vegetables are less cuddly and adorable than animals they don't deserve to be protected -- nor does the consumer. Talk about your nosy neighbors.

I have always believed nosy neighbors have their uses. They provide salacious gossip (although seldom accurate) about the people around them and they are a lot cheaper than alarm systems, and much more reliable, as they don't tend to go off in the middle of a thunderstorm, nor are they susceptible to the ravages of squirrels and other rodents gnawing on them. Nosy neighbors can also be a major pain who cause much more trouble than they are worth. For instance, PETA.

If PETA were so interested in the welfare of animals they would offer their services and time to over worked inspectors at airports, customs houses at ship yards, and border check points to make sure exotic and restricted animals are not being brought in. PETA would spend their time and money stopping cock and bull dog fights if they really cared about animals. PETA would stop throwing paint on people wearing mink, sable and other furs and get their long and celebrity conscious noses out of private business and use their clout to do some good with legislation and consciousness raising if they were honestly interested in the welfare of animals. But those things don't garner them sufficient press or influence and awe the public. PETA wants everyone to be vegetarian and treat food animals as pets but that poses an entirely different problem.

Although some people have Vietnamese pot bellied pigs as pets, how many people would want to own a cow or pig or buffalo or any number of food animals and keep them in the house or their suburban yard? I'm sure the nosy neighbors of the Homeowner's Association would have something to say about that -- and it wouldn't be good. By getting rid of all food animals, PETA would thereby be consigning several species of animals to extinction because they would no longer be needed, and I don't believe PETA cares or has even thought of the consequences of their actions, but it's probably better that food animals not be born and be allowed to become extinct rather than eating them, that way food animals wouldn't be mistreated. And then PETA would be out of a job and a job unless they could find another cause to attract attention and keep them in the news side-by-side with the celebrity of the month...which would leave what? Insects?

I do believe that food animals should be treated with respect but that means policing and regulating corporate farms whose only rule of thumb is the bottom line of profits. Humane treatment doesn't mean eradication of an industry or pogroms; that's like throwing the baby out with the bath water, and all that does is cause more harm and promote bad feelings. PETA has a right to speak their views; they do not have a right to shove their views and agenda down the throats of the public or anyone else. They do not have the right to damage property or interfere with anyone's livelihood. They also do not have the right to silence their opponents.

PETA controls the way we see things with regard to animals, choosing what they want the rest of the world to see in order to promote their agenda and shine the most favorable light on their actions. It has come to be called spin but it that is propaganda. PETA's tactics, like Nazi German's tactics to make their Final Solution palatable to the people, are dangerous, and their tactics have filtered down to Whole Foods and their ultimatum to Grimaud Farms: stop selling your ducks to a company we don't like and won't patronize or we will shut you out.

At this rate, stores will not allow someone to purchase food or sundries if they think that person might use the food or sundries to make a bomb or poison the rodents that are gnawing through their alarm system wiring.

"I'm sorry, madam/sir, but if you are going to take the food we allow you to purchase from us and eat
it yourself and not give any to your children, then you will have to purchase your food elsewhere."

"Sir/Madam, it has come to our attention that you take our organically grown food and mix it with food that is not organic. That is not acceptable. You must take your trade somewhere else."

"Madam/Sir, we hear that your son/daughter is working on a project for the school science fair and will be using the products purchased in our establishment to [fill in the blank]. You are hereby banned."

Think it couldn't happen? There are nosy neighbors all around you and they are more than willing to tell what they know to anyone and everyone. The second biggest nosy neighbor in the country is PETA, and if they have their way your thoughts will be held against you -- and there is no court of law or board of appeals.

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