Wednesday, July 20, 2005

For the chickens

J frequently mocks my obsession with chickens. Somehow I have more sympathy for them than most of the animals people eat. I saw the sickest commercial last night - a new Carl's Jr. ad proclaiming that "the only thing chickens are good for is eating." This may be the case to a lot of people, but frankly, do we really know enough about them to proclaim them pointless creatures? There is the little matter of eggs, for instance. And they kind of have to be un-eaten to make eggs.

Anyway, I wanted to post about the Humane Society's campaign to get Trader Joe's to stop selling eggs from chickens kept in battery cages. I was suprised to learn that both Whole Foods and Wild Oats took this action but TJ's refuses. Seems silly - I would think TJ customers would be the kind of people who are into less cruelty in the world. I mean really, do we need cheap eggs so badly? There's just no good reason, it seems, to continue the culture of violence and the cheapening of life - even chicken life! Maybe you don't think chickens are good for anything but eating...but for the ones we keep alive (and pumped with hormones so they'll produce), can't we at least give them a little space, make their miserable lives somewhat less so?

It's not much for us to participate and it's not much for TJ's to respond. I normally don't get all activisty, but this just seems logical to me.

Ask Trader Joe's to stop selling eggs from caged hens
National grocery store chain Trader Joe's has thus far refused to enact a policy to stop selling eggs from hens confined in tiny wire coops called battery cages. Egg-laying hens in battery cages are the most intensively confined animal in the United States, each cage providing less than a sheet of paper of space per bird. Trader Joe's competitors, Whole Foods and Wild Oats, have both agreed to stop selling eggs from battery-caged hens.
Please take a moment to call the Trader Joe's customer comment lines at 626-599-3817 (west coast) and 781-455-7319 (east coast) and ask the company to adopt a policy to sell only cage-free eggs.
Also, if you shop at Trader Joe's, be sure to print out and fill out our free "customer comment card" to drop off at the store. Feedback from Trader Joe's customers is vital to the success of this campaign. Click here to find a Trader Joe's near you.
Next, send your email message to Chairman and CEO Dan Bane to urge Trader Joe's to follow the lead of Whole Foods and Wild Oats and stop selling eggs from battery-caged hens. Because Bane has chosen not to accept emails from the public, The HSUS Trader Joe's Team will ensure that your message will reach him. (fill out the email at the link above)
The conditions for caged hens are simply too cruel for any humane person to support, or for any socially responsible company to condone. Trader Joe's already sells some cage-free eggs and has a history of doing the right thing when it comes to issues of animal welfare. Now is the time for the company to commit to selling only cage-free eggs.
Since we launched our campaign, Trader Joe's has posted a statement in support of its battery-cage egg policy. Click here to read our response.

Here is some more info. I feel like it's a little thing to do. Hope you'll consider joining me. These guys will thank you...


Anonymous said...

There is a brand new film that reveals the conditions at the egg farm run by Wegmans Food Markets, the #1 company to work for in America, according to Fortune Magazine.

The film -- and a 2 minute preview -- are available for free download at --

ms. tea said...

thanks for the info. i am a regular TJ shopper and this is of great interest to me. I am glad that TJ's only sells dairy products that are from cows NOT treated with RBST, but i would hope that they would make this move too.

Anonymous said...

Cows' udders are like women's breasts: they only produce milk when she has given birth.

What happens to the cows' babies?

If male, they will either be killed at birth or soon after, after having spent a few weeks or months immobilized in a "veal" crate.

If female, they will eventually join the herd, but they will never be with their mothers or drink their mothers' milk. They love their mothers, and their mothers love them, but the dairy industry prevents these relationships.

A great introduction to the dairy industry is found in the film "Peaceable Kingdom"; again, a preview is online.

The dairy industry is a real downer, for animals and for humans also.

Kim said...

thank you for the info on trader joe's. I have called and written them about the egg issue before, but I didn't know they officially decided to not give a damn. I just decided to stop shopping there. I actually don't buy my eggs there anyway--I travel over an hour once a month to a farm to buy them from happy hens that I see running around. The eggs are amazing and about as humanely produced as can be. That is, unless you have hens yourself...something I'm seriously considering. Call me crazy. Anyway, great blog. thanks.

ms. tea said...

my family used to raise hens for eggs. the were beautiful and like pets to me. they roamed freely around our acre of property and each had her own private nesting area. their eggs were the best tasting i have had in my life. if you've got the space, try raising hens, it is a really enriching endeavor.

Stasi said...

My aunt has chickens from which she gets her eggs. She also has well-coddled cows which she slaughters occasionally - she numbers them instead of naming them to help deal with this (also I imagine the chickens end up as dinner, although they're quite valuable for eggs).

She and her husband are marvelous chefs and into food & wine big time. They might be on to something - I'm sure their meat tastes better than other meat. Sadly, we don't really live in a world where we can all do this.

I'm not really sure I'm against meat-eating in principle, but the way we get our meat in the US is just too ugly. Do the boycotts work? I don't know. But at least I'm not putting that junk (hormones, antibiotics, fear) into my body.

Anonymous said...

My spouse and I really can't afford it (since we are both career students with only part-time jobs), but despite this we have made a conscious decision to reduce our meat consumption to 1-2 meals per week. Neither of us are vegetarians, but we have come to the conclusion that it is unethical (for multiple reasons) to eat the typical amount of meat most Americans eat. We try to buy organic generally, since the earth and our bodies are the better for it. But primarily we have vowed to eat only organic cage-free eggs and buy only free-range chicken. These items are twice as expensive as conventional ones, but that only helps us realize how much our culture has taken advantage of the welfare of those beings that are in our care.

Anonymous said...

i have a thread running at re: lacto ovo vegetarianism and meat eating.
I have come to the conclusion that eating milk and eggs as a "more peaceful" alternative to meat eating actually isn't so - it only extends these animals lives and they still meet the same fate as their bred-for-meat peers ("productive" dairy and egg animals live for years, meat animals for months. These dairy and egg animals eventually become the cheaper cuts/lower quality of meat on the mkt). But all is not lost - small farms have pretty good conditions. But I am still wondering about slaughter methods - do these small farms send their peaceably raised animals off to a ghastly house of horrors slaughterhouse, where they might not even be dead or unconcious yet before the processing begins?? (yes speed is of such essence to them that everyday in every major slaughterhouse there are several or many animals being slowly processed alive because they simply won't slow down enough to make sure they are dead first).
I want to know what methods these humane farms are using in slaughter or if they are outsourcing to inhumane companies to do it. Please email back if you know. particularly the trader joes brand dairy.

Anonymous said...

I was doing some sleuthing posing as a prospective buyer and asked a small farm near me that raises veal what it's veal raising practices were.They replied that their veal is raised on pasture and whole milk and tho they didn't often raise veal I could order in advance. So it seems their veal is living a pretty natural life, tho cut short. It seems the major difference in quality of animal life is whether a farm is runs small and traditional or like a large modern factory. Even eating meat etc. from more humane sources or less of it will make a huge difference. and small family farms are going out of business left and right.

Anonymous said...

i think were are so out of touch with our own emotions and needs that we are doing the same things to animals that we do to ourselves without realizing how cruel it is. For example american women typically don't breastfeed very long if at all and then turn their babies over to a daycare to go back to work. Mirror this with what we are doing to cows in the dairy and veal industry. So what is the difference between a crated veal calf deprived of its mothers milk and a baby that spends its days at daycare ignored in a playpen drinking formula? If one doesn't bother you, why should the other? yet our society still justifies both in the name of "economic productivity" and stay at home moms have to go to great lengths to be able to stay home with their children and justify it to others.

Chicken in their cages producing eggs, rarely seeing the light of day, not getting enough rest, being stressed beyond their limits to meet quotas and production or financial goals, reminds me of workers in cubicles and production lines and living in apartments, especially like the japanese - japanese single men sometimes live in wire bunkbed cages eerily similar.

we are projecting our own social psychoses onto helpless animals.

and the "disposable males" of the animal industry reflect many American mens feeling that they are no longer "necessary" in the new "Murphy Brown" family and social structure and that traditional masculine traits such as leadership, aggressiveness or protectiveness are not appreciated and are undesireable(farmers dispose of males because they are too protective of the females and young and too agressive/fight back whereas females and young can be manipulated and abused without much fight. The first thing any enemy tribe of old did was kill all the males and keep the docile females. Or, disarm the males and make them ineffective to protect their people (native american 1800s and and jewish ww2 genocides). or, find other ways to dispose of them (send them to prison or the army - many young men up until even the 1970s were given this choice after committing non-violent crimes such as injuring someone in self defense or stealing because of poverty). Compare this to the castrating, de horning, debeaking, dehackling, and "elimination" at a young age of most "troublesome" male animals.

those who want to protect animals also often do "crazy " things like breastfeed their children for 1-3 years, homeschool, and limit vaccinations/modern medicine (they're free range children!), desire to, or do, run their own businesses, or homestead/live self sufficiently rather than work for an unethical or inhuman large company, keep guns in defense of their constitutional rights, refuse to go to war for pacifist reasons, or both. But before calling them "crazy kooks" and defend the majority "norm" remember what your mother asked you - "if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?"

the way we choose to live our own lives, work, and arrange our family life reflects directly on how we treat every other species and resource we control.