Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp: Help Us Stop The DARK Act

Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp: Help Us Stop The DARK Act

Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, who serve as board members of Farm Aid, have spoken out against the controversial Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599), also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act. “Giant food, chemical and biotech corporations have spent millions of dollars to block our right to know what’s in our food.”

Farm Aid concerts raise money to support small farmers and farming families.

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10 Things to Love About Cows

10 Things to Love About Cows

If you have never given much thought to how wonderful cows are, now is a great time to start. Cows are gentle animals who are affectionate, emotional and intelligent. Mahatma Gandhi described a cow as “a poem of compassion.” Cows are certainly deserving of our compassion as well as our understanding and respect. Before I became vegan, i didn’t know much about cows. I had only seen one once; after all, i was a city girl.  

When I visited a farmed animal sanctuary, I was amazed at how beautiful, serene and at peace these once abused but now fortunate animals were. Getting up close and personal with a cow and touching her was an emotional experience for me. …If you don’t know much about our bovine friends, here are 10 things about cows that may astound you:

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Steve Ells - Chipotle Founder and Co-CEO

Steve Ells - Chipotle Founder and Co-CEO

Steve Ells opened his first Chipotle in 1993. It was a success from the start, growing into a nationwide restaurant chain that today has 1,900 locations, 45,000 employees and generates annual revenue of well over $4 billion. It was innovative, creating what has become known as ‘fast casual’ dining, and with its commitment to organic food ingredients. Steve’s Chipotle website states, “We care deeply about where our ingredients come from. While industrial farming practices have evolved to maximize profits and production, we make an extra effort to partner with farmers, ranchers, and other suppliers whose practices emphasize quality and responsibility.”

Regarding the animals Chipotle sources for its food, “We think that animals raised outdoors or in deeply-bedded pens are happier and healthier than those raised in confinement. With our suppliers, we take a firm stand on two things.”  First, that pasture-raised animals must be provided the living space to be animals. Second, that farmers and ranchers must raise their animals without using antibiotics or synthetic hormones.

Moreover, regarding the produce Chipotle purchases, its mandate is to source locally grown wherever possible and to buy from farms “that plant a variety of crops and rotate the fields where they’re planted keep(ing) the soil nutrient-rich and the land healthier year after year.”

This mandate enables hundreds of family owned sustainable small farms to survive and to thrive, and pumps millions of dollars back into rural economies. Farm Animal Compassionate Engagement believes that this movement, the return of small farms, of a modern day Grange, of food-to-table, will create 500,000+ new farming jobs over the next decade, the rebirth of rural towns, and will constitute one of the essential American social movements in our country’s evolution into a more compassionate nation.

What we most want to commend Steve Ells and Chipotle on, is their strength of character, their adherence to their values. Given the factory-farmed dominance of the pork industry, when pork suppliers violated Chipotle’s animal care standards, it proved impossible to source humanely raised pork. Rather than compromise, Chipotle removed pork from its menus – and for a prolonged period of time.

Steve Ells risked that his customers who would head down the street to order their carnitas at Taco Bell or numerous other food chains where it was always on the menu – chains operating without concern at their executive level regarding the humane treatment of the animals they source for food. But Chipotle customers tend to be loyal. And aware, informed and issue-oriented. And they remained Chipotle customers.

Now some factory farms are getting the message. It is no coincidence that DuBreton, North America’s largest pork producer has agreed to raise 300,000 more crate-free pigs. Nor, most probably, is it a sudden surge of compassion on their part either. They are changing to supply customers’ demand for healthier, humanely raised pork - demand rising hand-in-hand with a company like Chipotle who gets it, whose mandate, whose DNA insists on it.

This is not just a reflection of the compassion and the caring of Steve Ells. This is also a demonstration of his courage.

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Environmental Groups Are Suing New York Over Water Pollution Caused by Dairy Farms – Here’s Why

Environmental Groups Are Suing New York Over Water Pollution Caused by Dairy Farms – Here’s Why

In recent years, public awareness about the shocking cruelty of the animal agriculture industry - particularly factory farms - has greatly increased. At the same time, more and more people are beginning to learn about how harmful the industry’s practices are to the environment. Far higher amounts of freshwater and land resources are required for the production of meat and dairy than for the production of plant-based foods. To take just one example, the production of beef requires approximately 160% more land resources than the production of plant-based protein products. Additionally, a person who stops eating meat and dairy products for one year can save 200,000 gallons of freshwater!

The world’s farmed animals produce around 130 times more waste than the entire human population. Approximately 150 gallons of water are required per cow, per day, to hydrate the animals, remove excrement from the floors of factory farms, and clean slaughter equipment. Once this water has been used, it contains too much animal waste, antibiotics, growth hormones and bacteria to be returned to the water treatment system. Instead, it must be stored in open-air lagoons that can be the size of several football fields. These lagoons often leak into the surrounding groundwater – and some farmers even drain them by spraying the polluted water onto neighboring lands – which can cause massive problems for drinking water supplies in the area.

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Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms

Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms

This week, the World Health Organization — which works globally to improve human health — will meet in Geneva to select a new director general. We have a mission for that leader: take on factory farms, a major threat to health and the environment.

Starting just after World War II, animal production in the United States became increasingly industrialized. Factory-like farms radically increased the number of cows, chickens and pigs they could raise and slaughter with economic efficiency. This is one reason meat consumption rose sharply in the United States after the war. So, too, worldwide, meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last 10 years, according to research by the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group.

This sweeping change in meat production and consumption has had grave consequences for our health and environment, and these problems will grow only worse if current trends continue.

Taking on this public health issue is well within the W.H.O.’s mandate. Addressing last year’s World Health Assembly, Margaret Chan, the organization’s departing director general, called antibiotic-resistant microbes, climate change and chronic diseases “three slow-motion disasters” shaping the global health landscape. Factory farming connects the dots among them.

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Carton Of Cruelty: Behind Big Dairy's Closed Doors

Carton Of Cruelty: Behind Big Dairy's Closed Doors

In a heartbreaking new undercover video, Compassion Over Killing reveals violent abuse of gentle mother cows at Mason Dixon Farms, a massive dairy factory farm in Pennsylvania with more than 2,500 animals.

Mason Dixon supplies some of the biggest names in dairy, including Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes. 

One of the largest dairy facilities on the East Coast, Mason Dixon was the first in the US to implement milking of cows by machines, known as “robo-milking.” Approximately half of the 2,500 cows on this factory farm are now “robo-milked.”

Though Mason Dixon touts itself as a leading example in the dairy industry, the footage taken by COK’s investigator who worked inside the facility uncovers a different reality

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Study: Fecal Bacteria From N.C. Hog Farms Infects Nearby Homes

Study: Fecal Bacteria From N.C. Hog Farms Infects Nearby Homes

Ignoring Findings, State Lawmakers Look to Shield Big Pork from Liability. 

Scientific tests found abundant hog feces on homes and lawns, and in the air of private properties near big hog farms in North Carolina – proof that factory farms are exposing nearby communities to dangerous fecal bacteria, endangering the health of tens of thousands of citizens. Despite this disgusting evidence, state lawmakers are moving to strip citizens of their right to fair compensation through so-called nuisance suits against concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

"This study, by a scientist who has done groundbreaking work for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, proves that industrial-scale swine farms are not just a nuisance that damages property values, but a serious threat to the health of people who live nearby," said Ken Cook, president of EWG, which has mapped an estimated 60,000 homes within half a mile of North Carolina swine and poultry CAFOS.

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'Organic' Factory Farms Injure Ethical Wisconsin Dairy Families

'Organic' Factory Farms Injure Ethical Wisconsin Dairy Families

A scathing front page exposé in The Washington Post May 2 provides strong evidence that the largest organic milk producer in the United States has been operating illegally, jeopardizing family-scale farms here in Wisconsin. The Post’s investigative journalists visited Aurora Dairy's largest factory farm complex in Weld County, Colorado, finding that almost all of the 15,000 cows there were confined to dirt and manure-covered pens rather than grazing out on pasture as organic law requires.

Repeated observations on eight days (some 10 hours long), supplemented by drone and satellite imagery, revealed that no more than 10 percent of the dairy herd was ever out on grass — and many times, significantly less were.

The Cornucopia Institute has long asserted that giant industrial dairies are gaming the organic system, confining cattle in order to push cows for high milk production. This approach resembles the standard operating practices on conventional CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).

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Demand Better From Your Chicken Suppliers! Olive Garden Unlimited Cruelty

Demand Better From Your Chicken Suppliers!  Olive Garden Unlimited Cruelty

In the first six weeks of their lives, chickens raised for Olive Garden’s supply chain will live through the worst suffering imaginable.

They are unable to move, not only because they have been selectively bred to grow so large, so fast that their young legs cannot hold the weight, but because they are crammed inside filthy sheds with hundreds of thousands of other birds. They are forced to lay in litter soaked in excrement, and the toxic ammonia burns their feet, chest, and lungs.

How can Olive Garden’s motto be “we’re all family here,” when thousands of birds are suffering, in some cases literally to death, for its menu items? Animal abuse is not a family value.

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Cow’s Milk is Done For – Dairy Industry Sees Plant-Based Milk as a ‘Serious Threat’

Cow’s Milk is Done For – Dairy Industry Sees Plant-Based Milk as a ‘Serious Threat’

Last week, the American Dairy Products Institute and the American Butter Institute held their annual conference in Chicago, Illinois. Conference attendees, which included manufacturers, marketers, and suppliers of dairy products all gathered downtown to listen to industry leaders discuss the state of dairy in the U.S. And surprise, surprise … they talked about plant-based milk. According to Dairy Reporter, the ADPI/ABI Conference was a space for several industry leaders to voice their concern over the threat that plant-based milk poses to the dairy industry.

Mike McClosky, co-founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers, expressed his beliefs that plant-based milk is “a serious threat” to the industry and added “many people have stolen the identity of milk over the years.” He closed his remark stating “we as an industry have sat back and not responded like we should have.” If McClosky is referring to the recent debacle in which members of Congress sent a letter to the FDA claiming that labelling plant-based milk as “milk” is “misleading to consumers … and a violation of milk’s standard of identity,” when he says they haven’t responded as they “should have”…  then we agree — dairy producers and processors could have responded to declining sales a little better.

Sheryl Meshke, co-president and CEO of Associated Milk Producers, Inc., expressed concerns about milk’s stolen identity: “If you think of the word ‘milk’ as a brand, they stole our brand which really conveys the fact that it’s a powerful nutrient-packed product.” Meshke believes that the solution to fixing the dairy industry is to “be more relevant to the Millennial consumer.”

However, research has shown that Millennials prefer to make choices that have a better impact on both society and the environment — but can the dairy industry ever really be these things? Not only does the dairy industry have a major negative impact on the environment, but dairy milk is also not the nutritional powerhouse that many of us once thought it was — it turns out, we can get the same nutrients from fortified plant-based milks and whole, plant-based foods.

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Newborn Cow Was So Scared The Day He Was Rescued

Newborn Cow Was So Scared The Day He Was Rescued

The newborn calf was terrified when he arrived at the sanctuary. You could tell by his eyes - they were wide and white. "He was so scared and disorientated without his mom," Deborah Pearce, founder of Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary, told The Dodo. The calf - named Valentine - was born on a dairy farm in New South Wales, Australia. As a male calf, Valentine was considered a "waste product," because he could not produce milk. The farmer ripped him away from his mom when he was just a few hours old, so he could use the mother's milk for human consumption, and not "waste" the milk on the calf. 

A neighbor had witnessed Valentine's birth, and his removal from his mother. She alerted Pearce, asking her to rescue Valentine. If Valentine wasn't rescued, the calf would be sent to slaughter, which is a standard practice in the dairy industry for male calves...

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Victory! Subway Announces Monumental Chicken Welfare Policy

Victory! Subway Announces Monumental Chicken Welfare Policy

The world's largest fast-food franchise, Subway, has agreed to meaningful changes to its chicken welfare policies after a national initiative of The Humane League led by Philadelphia high school student Lia Hyman. 

This effort was part of our larger 88% Campaign.

Just last week, Lia and others traveled to Subway headquarters in Milford, CT to deliver a petition with over 50 thousand signatures from concerned citizens asking for better treatment for chickens in the company's supply chain and stage a silent demonstration. 

In addition, a billboard was launched on the main highway to Subway's headquarters directing the general public to the campaign website. Our grassroots team held dozens of protests across the country and hundreds of consumers and students also spoke out against Subway on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, asking the restaurant to address the violent abuse taking place in its supply chain.

Their efforts, and the voices and input of the thousands who called, emailed, wrote letters and protested, didn't go unanswered, as a new welfare policy was released today.

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Mama Pig Finally Gets the Experience Millions of Others Don’t – the Chance to Care for Her Babies

Mama Pig Finally Gets the Experience Millions of Others Don’t – the Chance to Care for Her Babies

We have the absolute sweetest video to share with you! You may remember the rescue of mama pig, Carol, and her piglets by Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary. Carol had given birth to seven tiny piglets in a pound before Edgar’s Mission came to her aid. Now the sweet mother and her babies are safe and sound at the sanctuary.

Pigs are incredibly intelligent and emotional beings. Studies have shown that pigs possess the ability to empathize with one another, they can perform tricks just like a dog, and they even come running when they hear their name. If only everyone knew how wonderful pigs are.

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Sign To Demand Tyson Foods Adopt A Responsible Food Policy

Sign To Demand Tyson Foods Adopt A Responsible Food Policy

STEPHEN COMMENT:  I feel this is one of the most important petitions you can add your signature to.

Tyson Foods is a corporation on the Dark Side. It was a pioneer in conceiving of factory farming, in developing its operations, its brutality and its scope. Over eight decades, it has crushed tens if not hundreds of thousands of small family farms and ranches. Tyson Foods has expanded its operations worldwide bringing the factory farming model into other countries with similar results. There may be no other corporation on the planet that has caused as much environmental damage as Tyson Foods and the cruelty and suffering it has inflicted on countless billions of animals is probably unsurpassed.

This petition demands that this company’s executives begin to take stock of something far more important than their company’s bottom line: the role Tyson will play going forward in either degrading the planet beyond recovery and in the suffering of billions more helpless animals in its factory farms – or not.

Over 17,000 of us have signed this new petition. You honor our environment, our planet, you show compassion for farmed animals, and you honor yourself by doing so as well.

Despite years of pressure, Tyson Foods, since acquiring Hillshire Brands, is one of the few remaining Big Food companies which still fails to adopt a responsible palm oil procurement policy. It’s too busy driving the explosion of factory farming around the world. 

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ARTICLE:

In the last 20 years small-scale farming has been largely replaced with factory farms -- industrial operations that confine thousands of helpless animals in horrendous conditions that lead to worker abuse, massive water contamination and hazardous air pollutants that endanger human health, as well as unbelievably cruel treatment of animals.

As one of the most influential players in the global processed meat market, and one of the biggest corporate laggards that refuses to deal with its Conflict Palm Oil problem, Tyson Foods must adopt a responsible food policy with commitments on responsible production of palm oil and meat. We can support family farmers, local economies, and animal welfare by transforming Tyson Foods.

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8 Things Vegans And Meat Eaters Can Totally Agree On

8 Things Vegans And Meat Eaters Can Totally Agree On

STEPHEN COMMENT:   I’ve chosen Joe Loria’s Mercy for Animals post as the featured article in Issue 10.

I agree with all 8 of these.

Take a look. How many do you agree with?

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ARTICLE:

We may think we see the world differently, but here are eight things we can definitely all agree on.

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Pasture-raised Eggs: Healthy And Humane

Pasture-raised Eggs: Healthy And Humane

STEPHEN COMMENT:  If you are going to buy eggs, source your eggs. Know where they come from.

Pasture-raised eggs taste much better. You can tell just by seeing the richer color of the yolks. They are fresher. They contain more vitamins and nutrients than factory-farmed eggs. They are the product of happy chickens, who have normal – not artificially accelerated -  laying cycles, living healthy lives and thus, do not require antibiotic dosing to keep them disease free.

You will pay a bit more for these eggs, but the benefits are more than worth it. Your purchase is also supporting smaller scale family farmers, their families and by extension, their communities.

The theme of Issue 10 is, in these dark times, protecting yourself and your loved ones by living healthy, living well and staying strong. 

Stay strong and take a stand: fight cruelty and injustice by the simple, powerful act of not spending your consumer dollars on food that is the product of animal cruelty and suffering. Do not contribute to ongoing and future animal suffering by supporting the companies responsible for it.

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ARTICLE:

Newly released studies by Mother Earth News cite pasture-raised eggs as the most humane and healthy option for egg consumers.

Now that 2017 is upon us, many people are making resolutions to eat healthier and, according to recent studies, few foods have as many health benefits as eggs. 

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Unilever Delivers On Cage-free Pledge Three Years Ahead Of Schedule

Unilever Delivers On Cage-free Pledge Three Years Ahead Of Schedule

STEPHEN COMMENT:  

When major corporations agree to do the right thing and pledge to take significant steps to reduce or eliminate animal cruelty in their operations, they will announce a timeline to implement necessary changes. As time passes, some vacillate and renege once attention shifts away from them, others succeed in making promised changes on schedule.

Unilever, which makes Hellmann’s and Best Foods mayonnaise, fulfilled its pledge three years ahead of schedule. Well done!

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ARTICLE:

Today, Unilever – one of the world’s largest food conglomerates – announced that it has fulfilled its pledge to go exclusively cage-free for eggs in all Hellmann’s and Best Foods mayonnaise products, three years ahead of schedule. The acceleration of its previously-stated cage-free timeline – which translates into more than a million birds a year out of cages — is a hopeful indicator that Unilever will be one of many food companies that execute on their pledges well ahead of their original time frame. Within the last two years, more than 200 companies – the biggest names in food retail in the United States and abroad – have committed to go cage-free, and egg producers know that they must move dramatically toward more extensive systems if they want to sell eggs.

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