Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Pigs

Glad to be me, rather than her

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Factory Farming, Pigs | 6 comments

“Wilbur didn’t want food, he wanted love” – E.B White, Charlotte’s Web

My 7 week mini sabbatical, courtesy of long service leave,  is sadly drawing to a close. This time tomorrow I will be back into the throngs of my normal, time poor and early rising working life. Nooooo !!!!

My time off went something like this :

It started on a somber note – coinciding with same day that so many people lost their lives when MH17 was shot out of the sky over the Ukraine. After this “life is fragile” jolt of a reminder, I went on to :

* Make 50 candles to sell to family and friends and raise money for Animals Asia’s project Peace by Piece as part of Honey Money Days.

Garp and my candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Watch a couple of brilliant movies (Still Life, Belle and Sebastian) and a couple of ho-hum ones (The Lunchbox and The Selfish Giant).

* Read some great books (Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and, the standout, The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell.)

* Watch some gripping series (The Fall, True Detective and we’ve just started on the very creepy French series Le Revenants).

* Have some drool worthy successes in the kitchen – Best Friends Banana Carrot Cake (I used Chai seeds to replace the eggs – worked a treat), Hippie Crispy Treats (divine !) and these Oat and Macadamia Cookies.

* Temper above mentioned indulgences by making a pact with myself and my runkeeper app to walk 10km per day which, bar a day or 2, I managed. My ever present companion (Garp) and my hips/thighs are grateful. It is great to discover a form of exercise which does actually work, fitness wise, and I enjoy. So, here I am  – 450km of buttock firming striding later. Woo-hoo !

* Ride 45km on my bike in one sitting, complete with magpie attacks which made the whole episode quite thrilling / terrifying  ! This figure would be a lame one for a seasoned bike rider but I am a beginner so am a bit chuffed with such mileage. The location (Bright to Myrtleford, Victoria) along the rail trail made this conquest an enjoyable, scenic one.

* Find a new job ! It is within my current large government organisation but will be a different and way more meaningful role, at a new location with (eek) new people but I am ready (but wracked with nerves) for the change and new challenge.

* Live like a queen for 2 nights with my fella thanks to a great deal at the beautiful, Art Deco-y Hyatt in Canberra. Could almost feel Bob Hawke breathing down my neck when visiting Old Parliament House – the furnishings took me straight back to the 70’s / 80’s. Cycled most of the lake and lunched at my favourite Canberra eatery (Sweet Bones Bakery).

* Become another year older and gnarled. I am now on the brink of being in my “mid 40’s”…

* Attend 2 “significant age” birthday parties of friends. Forgot how fun having a boogy on the dance floor is (Sia, in particular, has been having a workout lately !!)

* Learn the perils of seemingly innocuous Essential Oils. Have small burn marks ALL over my skin as a result of my homemade body scrub and bath soak experiments. Please learn by my pain – use a carrier oil like coconut oil to mix with strong oils like Cinnamon Bark !

* Experience 2 blissful, serene days at Australia’s only Vegan B&B – Bed and Broccoli in Victoria. My stay is worthy of a whole blog post which is pending ! My carnivorous fella willingly ate the delicious plant based meals without grumbling. I learnt that I could easily do without the small amounts of animal products that I still do consume.

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Me, feeding apples to the very gorgeous Frankie at Bed and Broccoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Rage at the short sighted and cruel decision by our judicial system in the return of a dog (CJ) to his abusive owner.

* Hang out with my fella for 7 nights at this incredible Stayz property in a wee village near the very beautiful Bright in Alpine Victoria. We felt like we were living in a vogue magazine for a week. Highly recommended !

* Have time to catch up with some of my oldest, treasured friends. Have made a pact with myself not to wait for the fleeting and scarce holiday times of the year to do this in the future.

* Clock up 2000 km on our road trip. Australia is beautiful – especially at the moment in it’s green Spring glory.

* Gaze on a billion stars in Bright around a fire pit…..

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Stars, stars and more stars at Bright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My time away from the daily grind has left me feeling grateful and thankful for the freedom I have to do all these wonderful things.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to experience such freedom and good times :

……..this is how the same 7 week period was spent by one of the 350,000 sows existing in one of Australia’s estimated 2000 intensive piggeries…………………………………..

Pig

Templemore Piggery, NSW, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like 95 % of sows, she lives exists in a “factory farm”. She is 3 years old and due to have her 4th litter of piglets soon. She has been imprisoned in a “sow stall” for the past 10 weeks. This stall is only slightly larger than her body. It allows her to take one small step forward and one small step back but that is all. She cannot turn around. Her joints aches from being immobilised for so long and from lying on the cold, hard floor as she has no bedding. She has pressure sores on her body from where her body is pressed up against the metal frame of the stall. She is often hungry – being fed only grain rather than the roughage she would eat if she was in a natural environment. She is smart and inquisitive (more so than a dog) but has nothing to do to occupy her days  leaving her feeling despondent and depressed. The light went out of her eyes a long time ago.

She has a urinary tract infection as she has no choice but to lie in her own waste and cannot always access clean, drinking water. Given a choice, she would find somewhere clean to rest and would use mud to keep herself cool. However, here she does not have a choice.

She has never seen the stars or felt the warm sun on her back. The inside of this loud, putrid smelling shed is all that she knows.

In a few days time, she will be moved to an even smaller cage known as a farrowing crate which allow for hardly any movement. She will remain here for 5 weeks. The people who put her here claim that it is for the safety of her babies so she does not crush them. However, in a natural environment she would make a huge nest from straw and grass to keep herself comfortable and her babies safe.

She gives birth to her babies in this cold and awful place. She cannot act out any of her maternal instincts as she cannot move. She helplessly watches on as her precious babies are roughly grabbed and have their tails, teeth, ears and testicles cut by the people who work here without pain relief. They scream in pain but she cannot do anything to help them. In a natural environment she would look after her babies for 3 months before they were weaned but in this place, they are typically taken from her at 3 weeks of age.

After her babies are taken, she is briefly placed with other sows in a small, barren area before attempts are made to impregnate her again. If successful, she will be returned to the sow stall for the miserable cycle to begin again. However, this time she does not get pregnant, her body is too tired – even at this young age. Her back is spray painted with letters to indicate that she is to be sent to slaughter.

She is herded onto a truck and taken to be slaughtered. The glimpse out of the truck slats is the first, and only, view of the outside world that she will ever see. At the abattoir, she is goaded with an electrical prod into a gas chamber. She clambers to escape as she can hear the screams of the pigs in front of her so she knows that something terrifying is going to happen to her. When she does reach the gas chamber, her final 30 seconds of life are spent in complete and utter panic, fighting for every breath. In Australia, it is common for CO2 to be used in high percentages (which results in a panic riddled suffocation) rather than the more “humane” Argon gas as CO2 is cheaper. This scathing report details how the typical Australian pig’s life ends in a slaughterhouse.

It is unfathomable that it is legal to treat animals like this in Australia. It is barbaric, cruel and unjustifiable but it remains this way as it is hidden out of mind, out of sight from the public eye.

Photos speak a thousand words. Please put your own discomfort aside and view these slideshows compiled by Australian Pig Farming : The Inside Story and Tamara Keneally from typical, stock standard piggeries around the country and make an educated, kind decision about whether or not this is an industry which you wish to support. 

Aren’t you glad that you are you rather than her ?

Further Reading

My previous posts about pigs here and here which give some practical shopping and lifestyle tips.

Confused about what constitutes free range / organic etc ? – this concise guide makes things clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pigs – What you can do to help them

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Pigs | 6 comments

  • All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke.

The good news is that all us good, kind people CAN do something. We all havBe their voicee a choice about what to support and what not to support – through the choices we make at the shops, what we cook and how we spread the word about doing the right thing by these smart, funny animals.

We can start by familiarising ourselves with :

Kinder alternatives
Buy free range / organic pig products but do make sure they are properly accredited.

The properly accredited products are made from pigs who spend their lives outdoors doing what pigs do and are never imprisoned in sow stalls / farrowing crates. The farmers who care for them ensure that minimum transportation times (from farm to abattoir) are adhered to, they do not use growth hormones / promotants and their pigs are not subjected to tail docking or teeth clipping or castration without pain relief.  The farms are regularly inspected and their stocking densities monitored. These farms are generally significantly more in tune with environmental concerns too such as adequate pasture rotation to prevent soil degradation and pollution.

 

The following suppliers / farms are particularly worthy of note for their exemplary care of their pigs and land and their commitment to selling true free range products with no ambiguity.  Many sell small, speciality goods too like chorizio and salami. They are sold on line, specialist butchers, suppliers and at farmers markets around Australia.

NSW
•    Feather and Bone, Marrickville sells Melanda Park
•    Pasture Perfect
•    Free Range Butcher  sells
Limerick Free Range
•    Urban Food Market, Marrickville sells
Oakleigh Pasture Pork and Esk River Free Range.
•    Bundarra Berkshires
•    Ormiston Free Range Pork
•    Graze and Flavour
•    Mayfield Farm Produce
•    Buena Vista Farm
•    Dr Earth sells a variety of free range pork products. As does :
•    Summerhill Organic Fruit Market (162 Old Canterbury Rd, Summer Hill).

VICTORIA

•    Greenvale Farm sells to many cafes and restaurants in and around Melbourne.
•    Fernleigh Free Range
•   The Gypsy Pig
•    Gippsland Pastured Meat
•    Wooragee Quality Free Range Pork
•    Jonai Farms. The owner’s of this farm have a fascinating blog about starting up as ethical, free range pig farmers. Highly recommended.

Greta Valley Free Range Pork

King Valley Free Range Pork
Yarra Valley Free Range Pork
Western Plains Pork
TASMANIA
•    Rare Food  – free range pork pies, sausages etc at Salamanca Markets.
•    Mount Gnomon Farm
•    Nicholls Rivulet Organic Farm
•    Black Ridge Farm
•    Crofton Lea Farm

QUEENSLAND
•    Gooralie Free Range Pork (NB Bred free range)
•    Tillari Trotters Free Range Pork

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
•    Benara Farm
•    Spencers Brook Farm
•    Linley Valley Pork

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
•    Minniribbie Farm

If you are going to eat pork products, please support the Australian farmers who are doing the right thing by their animals and land. Yes, the products are significantly more expensive than the mass produced, supermarket stuff so just eat less of it, less frequently.
Don’t forget the power of the wallet ! It is the consumer that pushes the demand for cheap meat and also the informed consumer who insists on changes.

The demand for “humane” meat is increasing and, on the surface, this is a good thing surely. However, please remember that the pig who supplies your free range bacon, in the majority of cases, still ends up in the same abattoir as the factory farmed pig. They will still face the fear of their impending death, be subject to errors in the killing process and are still, in the majority of cases, not protected by CCTV footage which leads to the types of cruelty captured in February 2012 at the Hawkesbury Meat Processors.

However, many of the suppliers / farms mentioned above do claim to take extra care when it comes to the day when their pigs are slaughtered by transporting their pigs themselves to the abattoir and some have voluntarily installed CCTV cameras in their facilities (such as Wollondilly Abattoir where pigs from Melanda Park are sent).

The labelling system in Australia is very ambiguous and makes it deliberately difficult to decipher what exactly you are buying. Just how “free range” and “ethical” is the product you are buying? Doing your research (helped along, hopefully, by my information) is vital if you want to source the kindest option.

Cafes and Restaurants who serve Free Range pig products
RSPCA’s “choose wisely” initiative, allows you to search for cafes and restaurants who use “humanely sourced” pig products (and eggs and chicken).

Other cafes / restaurants (Sydney and surrounds only at this stage) I am aware of who are doing the right thing in terms of sourcing free range pig (and other) products are :

•    Cafe Bones, Haberfield

•    Bishop Sessa, Surry Hills
•    Sixpenny, Stanmore
•    Cornersmith : 314 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville
•    Petty Cash Cafe : 68 Victoria Rd, Marrickville
•    Agape, Botany
•    Bar H, Surry Hills
•    The Hungry Duck, Berry

Please let me know about your favourite eatery who serves “humanely” sourced pork products.

The Ethical Consumer Guide is another handy guide which rates pig products found at supermarkets :

Kindest Alternative

Not to eat any pig products. Simple.

I’ve taken this option. I do not want to eat an animal which is more intelligent than my clever dog and one that is subject to so much human abuse. This includes a happy, free range pig as I have zero faith in any abattoir guaranteeing a pain, fear free death. Plus obviously, I want them to live and not die for a mere meal which I will have forgotten 5 minutes after eating it. One more thing….there are some excellent alternatives…which do taste scarily bacon-y !

Vegi / Vegan alternatives

•    Asian grocery shops have a huge array of mock meats. Ham is one of them.
•    Sanitarium Bacon. Readily available at the supermarket.
•    Redwood “Bacon”.

So…..What else can you do ??

o    Take the kinder or kindest option when eating and encourage friends and relatives to do the same.

o    Get letter writing Politicians, supermarkets and fast food outlets such as MacDonalds are a good start. Here is my email to Katrina Hodgkinson and Joe Ludwig – no reply to date, surprise, surprise ! Here is my response from MacDonalds to a feedback form I completed questioning their use of pork from suppliers who use sow stalls.

o    Take one of the pledges at Animals Australia and join the 100,000 (and rising) plus others Australians who have pledged to either donate, eat fewer animal products, go meat free or refuse factory farmed meat in a campaign to end factory farming.

o    Attend protests / meetings to give your voice an outlet and meet up with similarly minded people. Embrace people power ! Melbourne Pig Save is a great source of information so “like” them on facebook to keep informed.Edgars Pig

o    Join / donate to organisations such as Voiceless and Animals Australia  to stay informed and educated about these issues.

o    Don’t let your vigilance drop when you travel overseas. Many countries overseas have even lower welfare standards than ours towards pigs so do your research or, safest option, go veg whilst travelling !IMGP6928

o   Sponsor a pig at one of the wonderful animal sanctuaries around the country such as Edgar’s Mission, Brightside and Peanuts Funny Farm.

o    Don’t forget that pig products are hidden in foods. As a lover of Japan, ramen comes to mind when I think of hidden pork products  – ie) in the stock.

o    Reward the pig farmers and restaurants / cafes who are doing the right thing with your patronage. Avoid the others.

News / Articles of interest

•    Tasmania’s disappointing back flip :

•    Why I won’t be eating ham this christmas.

•    Encouraging news from Coles.

•   Finally we are on the brink of calling for a halt to factory farming

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Factory Farming of Pigs

Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in Factory Farming, Pigs | 1 comment

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. – Sir Winston Churchill.

Pigs are gorgeous, intelligent and social animals. They are also one of the most abused animals on this earth and urgently in need of our help.
What is wrong

Human desire for cheap pork, bacon, ham etc has led to factory farming on a massive scale and dreadful, widespread cruelty. The following information about factory farming is kept well hidden by the industry, for good reason.

Animal Australia’s wonderful Make It Possible campaign explains more.

•    94% of pigs bred for their meat live in a factory farmed environment and will have felt nothing but concrete under their feet by the time they are slaughtered.
•    These smart, interested animals live in worlds devoid of anything to bring them joy – no sunlight, no mud to wallow in or grass to forage in.

•    Bits of their bodies (tails, teeth and testicles) are cut off with no pain relief. This cruelty is legal under the highly ambiguous and ineffectual Codes of Practice but woul be illegal if was performed on your family dog. Logical ?

•    There is little to no scrutiny within the piggery and abattoir walls leading to secretly filmed abuse of pigs from sadistic workers. In 2012 three piggeries in NSW were found to be engaging in hideously cruel practices – Wally’s Piggery in Yass, Tennessee Piggery in Young and Allains Piggery in Blainey Creek. In each instance undercover footage was obtained by Animal Liberation. Read more here.

•    Sow stalls and Farrowing crates.  84 % of the 350,000 mother pigs in Australia spend some of their pregnancy in a metal enclosure only barely bigger than her body. One third spend their entire 16 week pregnancy in one. Here she remains, unable to turn around, bored to insanity and suffering physically due to lack of excercise. Before having her piglets she is moved to an even smaller farrowing crate until she gives birth to her piglets who she cannot interact with, defying every mothering instinct she has.  Her babies are taken away to be fattened and slaughtered and she is then impregnated again and again and this never ending nightmare continues for her until she is slaughtered when she can no longer produce piglets.

•   Just imagine being put inside a cage where you could just stand up and just lie down but nothing else. You would have nothing to look at or do to occupy your time. Imagine being like this for 1 hour…now imagine 1 day….imagine a week. Impossible hey ? Now imagine being like this for 4 months. Incomprehensible. But, right now, as you read this, millions of sows around the world are experiencing this.

Note the words on her sign

•    For an animal with the intelligence of a 3 year old child, it is shameful that laws in Australia do not protect these animals. The Code of Practice are welfare recommendations only which are not enforced.

•    Sow stalls and Farrowing Crates are designed to keep piglet losses at a minimum and are disappointingly supported by the Australian Veterinarians Association. This is obviously economic rationalising with zero welfare considerations for the sows. There are alternative management practices which help prevent piglet mortality (from the sows rolling onto the piglets) which other countries use such as seen here: Free Farrowing Video.

•    Australia has not kept in line with animal welfare reforms around the world. Sow stalls are already banned in the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Finland and Florida in the US.  It will be banned in EU countries from January 2013 (aside from the first 4 weeks of the pregnancy).

•    Australia imports enormous amounts of frozen pork products (apparently about 30,000 per tonnes per week !). There does not appear to be any vetting process for humanely sourced food from overseas nor does it support Australian farmers. So, when you next buy your ham sandwich from the local cafe, there is a big chance that it came from overseas from countries with lower animal welfare standards than our own.

•    Remember that if it is not stated on the packet / restaurant etc, then you can assume that your pork product is from a factory farmed pig and your money is supporting the practice of factory farming.

•    Excellent information about factory farming of pigs can be found via the following links.

Savebabe

Australian Pig Farmers

Animal Welfare Labels

Brightside

Humanechoice

Voiceless

RSPCA

Compassion In World Farming

Next post………what you can do to help !

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