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Respect your food, and know from whence it came

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on May 2, 2013

If you knew that other animals experience ‘human’ emotions, and that they act with what we call moral sense, would that knowledge change your view of how they ought to be treated, under our dominion? There’s an emerging body of science that indicates that our relationship to ‘lower species’ is more like a continuum than a clearly demarked separation. We shouldn’t ignore those findings, if our stewardship of the animal kingdom is to accurately reflect our rather exalted view of our civilized nature. But current legislative proposals do just that.

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Comments (10)

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

Weblinks don't convert well from my word processor. In case anyone's interested --

Time article on Animal Grief: Web Link

Book Review, Wild Justice: Web Link

Ag-Gag Laws article: Web Link

Yale Law Comment on Constitutionality of Ag-Gag Laws: Web Link

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Posted by Dirk
a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

On a dirt road in Tucson I saw a dead crow, probably the victim of an automobile. Above it, sitting at the top of a telephone pole, was another crow, apparently looking down at the dead one. A day later I noticed that the dead crow was still in the road. I looked up, and the crow on the pole was still there. That crow was grieving.

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Posted by Dirk
a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Two hundred years ago slavery was accepted in this country. Many leading citizens owned slaves and almost all believed Africans to be naturally inferior to Europeans. The idea of women voting was laughable. I have often wondered what we consider natural and acceptable now that our descendents in another century or two will consider deeply immoral. Surely we have not yet, even in America, arrived at perfection.

One of the most likely candidates for our (in the future) very immoral behavior is our treatment of our cousins in the animal kingdom. Eating them perhaps, but certainly treating them with horrible cruelty.

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi Dirk -- There's a book called "For the Love of Animals" by Kathryn Shevelow that recounts the founding days of the animal protection movement in England. Web Link
She indicates that there was much overlap with the abolitionist movement. A BARK review of that book is here: Web Link

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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Tom needs to connect the dots between his love of animals, his love of the environment, and his desire to lower healthcare costs (Obamacare notwithstanding). Consider the following:

One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. One acre of land can produce 165 pounds of beef.

It takes 1 pound of grain to make 1 pound of bread. It takes 20 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef.

It takes 23 gallons of water to produce a pound of tomatoes. It takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.

Livestock production is the #1 cause of water pollution in the U.S.

The countries with the diets highest in animal products are also the countries with the highest rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 4, 2013 at 7:35 am

Somebody's a lot better a growing tomatoes than I am -- but point taken. I'm just trying not to alienate the Entire readership, all at once.

There's no Q that eating patterns are going to change (or return to earlier habits), and that much of that change could have a health pay-off. But only a central-planning-loving, suburban lifestyle-hating, birkenstock-wearing, pony-tailed socialist would have the temerity to suggest it in a blog.

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Posted by Trish
a resident of Danville
on May 7, 2013 at 7:06 am

This is a very interesting concept. :) My opinion is that this view should be expanded from a higher elevation. I am in agreement that humans and animals are very closely related. However, rather than saying animals are like us, I would argue that we are like them.

As a matter of fact, among the few things separating humans from animals is our ability to use logic, language, and learning. Although we know nothing when we are born, humans have a large propensity to absorb information. This is why learning and education is so important for humans (especially children).

Without it, I believe we fall back to our natural state which is that of the animal kingdom. We are at the top of the food chain. Where other species find balance, we are still fighting among each other...

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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on May 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm


I know you said you don’t like reading articles on because it’s too liberal for you. But you really should consider making an exception this one time.Web Link

The article says when you account for feed production, deforestation, and animal waste, the livestock industry produces up to 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions!

All we need to do stop climate change is to stop eating cheeseburgers. NO JOKE!!

The U.S. could impose a meat tax that could be used to stop global warming and fund Obamacare at the same time!

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Hi s-p: he did write 17-51%, which puts a bit of a different spin on it, for me, than "up to 51%" does (see, I did read it).

And then there's this guy Allan Savory: Web Link, whose TED Talk contends that we need More grazing herds, which might mean either more, or at least healthier grass-fed meats, to restore the planet's grasslands as a mammoth carbon sink that would counteract global warming.

Similarly, in The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan writes that Polyface Farm rejuvenates its pasturelands in three phases: grass grows, then cows eat the grass, then chickens distribute the cow manure and add their own, so grass grows better (rinse, repeat).

Lots of possibilities; somebody ought to write a column about sustainability.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

For anyone who's interested in reading a thoughtful article on animal rights/welfare issues, I came across this one in a compilation called "Michael Pollan's Greatest Hits." It's from 2002 and remains at least current, if not more so. Ultimately, it's about living consciously.

Web Link

Folks who've read his best selling 'Omnivore's Dilemma' will recognize Polyface Farm. The interests he discusses are quite consistent with Bernie Rollin's notion of 'telos' -- respect for the essence of the animal during its lifetime. Pretty good guiding concept, it seems to me.

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