Archive for the ‘Industrial Food’ Category
You hear defenders of pastured beef say it all the time: cows were meant to eat grass. They typically make this claim to justify their choice of pastured beef over industrial, grain-fed beef—the stuff that hogs all the media attention for causing grave ecological damage with total disregard for animal welfare.
These claims might indeed be true. Cows probably are meant to eat grass and there is little doubt that growing grain to feed cows in feedlots is one of the most flagrantly dumb things humans do. Likewise, a feedlot is the antithesis of welfare. So, sure, cows were meant to eat grass.
Regrettably, the conversation usually ends here. That’s too bad. Any acknowledgment of grass-fed beef vis-a-vis grain-fed is, or at least should be, a starting point for a far more complicated discussion, one we tend to avoid, in part because it’s complicated and in part because it undermines the rationale for switching to pastured beef and claiming everything is just so very cool.
The popular media only scratches the surface of the grass-fed issue, typically failing to reveal those complications that are endemic to pastured beef production and, when probed closely, highlight fatal flaws to the alternative that we’re so eager to deem viable and grillable.
What if you learned that the vast majority of the grass that cows in the United States graze is infected with a fungus that systematically compromises their health? Insane, right? How could this be? One word: fescue. Fescue is the most commonly grazed grass in the United States, covering 35 million acres and, without doubt, pleasing cattle (compared to other forage) because, for whatever reason, they prefer the taste of it to other grasses. Because cows take to it so quickly, ranchers promote it.
The problem is that fescue is virtually all (90 percent) infected with an endophyte fungus that causes considerable problems for cows. Problems such as: difficulty gaining weight, reproductive issues, excessive salivation, less time spent grazing, reduced blood serum prolactin levels, a greater need for water, lower milk production. And so on. Some of these problems might have welfare implications.
More obviously, though, they reveal a fundamental malfunction with the grand environmental claims about the animal-land relationship at the core of intensively managed grazing systems. What’s often presented as an elegant model of efficiency—cows eating grass— is, when you properly consider the fescue issue, undermined by a grave mismatch between animal and forage, one that requires more grazing and more water to generate less milk and less flesh.
Let’s face a fact and make it a mantra: natural conditions are virtually impossible to recreate. To think we can do so and then consume the product of that “natural” relationship is folly. In any case, add fescue to the growing list of why pastured beef is no answer to the industrial production of beef. Cows may have been meant to eat grass. But that hardly means that we were meant to eat them.
Speaking of fungus, here is my latest piece in The Atlantic.com.
When you see the words “China” and “meat” in the same headline you pretty much know the news is going to turn your gut. Today’s newsflash was par for the course: “Rat Meat, Treated with Gelatin, Carmine, and Nitrate, Sold as Mutton in China.” Lovely.
My initial thought when I read this story was that if you’re eating mutton in China probably the last thing on your mind would be purity. That said, we all deserve to know what we’re eating. My next—and more serious— thought was that, “of course they’re adulterating mutton with rat meat!” China, after all, has a billion mouths to feed and more and more of those mouths want meat. Maybe not rat meat, but meat. China’s diet, the more you look at it, is the vegan’s nightmare.
The quest for flesh being what it is, China has begun to commercially imperialize much of East and South Africa. The need for agrarian space to grow feed for livestock has led to massive land grabs in places such as Senegal and Ethiopia, where the Chinese have quietly blurred the line between capitalism and colonialism. We’ve known about this creeping influence for a while now. Less known, but equally threatening to the prospects of food justice, is the other weapon that China is using to colonize global biomass: trade agreements.
On April 25, China and Namibia signed an agreement that would export Namibian fish to China. The deal comes as a precursor to a pending pact between the same countries to export beef from Namibia. Environmental geopolitics being what they are, the ethical ramifications of these trade deal reverberate beyond the obvious issue of fair access. For one, when animals and animal products enter the lexicon of commerce, their morally fraught status as commodities are normalized and, in turn, further removed from the kind of questioning that leads many consumers to realize that it’s wrong to kill animals and turn them into objects of consumption. The story is here.
In one of the few reports filed on the trade deal, it was noted that, “The agreement also stipulates that provision should be made for a public-private partnership and a long-term joint venture framework for trade in animals and animal products.” Hmm. Although I’ve long been skeptical of categorical claims to keep agricultural production local, I’m coming to realize that one distinct advantage of doing so with animals is that the ethical implications of slaughtering and eating them may be better realized by thoughtful observers when the supply chain is shorter and the messiness is right under our nose, or at least closer to it.
Yesterday, for example, this story of local consumption—of an entire cow*— was covered with typical celebratory food writing pomp in Austin’s free newsweekly. It’s junk writing, and I hate to even highlight it, but it serves to illustrate my point. Yes, it’s frustrating to see such thoughtless behavior promoted as the future of responsible food. But it’s also hopeful in that the ultimate lunacy of this behavior is placed under a microscope that, in time, might very well clarify for otherwise conscientious consumers the underlying selfishness of this disgusting trend parading as a hip thing to do while stoned, drunk, and hungry.
*Somehow foodies have passed a law saying that if you eat the whole animal than everything’s cool.
There are daily moments in this line of work when you think to yourself, “[insert preferred expletive.]” Mine came a few minutes ago, when in the course of preparing yet another blog on fish (to, you know, complete the weekly trilogy) I was sent a press release by the HSUS. Upon skimming the piece, two thoughts immediately came to mind: a) this is an Onion article; or b) it’s April 1. I’m not kidding. Realizing that neither were the case, I then uttered my own preferred expletive (starts with a “b” and comes from the backside of a cow). It’s still ringing in my ears as I type. (The other noise, I think, was, Henry Spira spinning in his grave.) Folks, give me another earful on this one and I’ll send it to the top with my own cool-headed but firm commentary. I’m all for encouraging progress, but do we really have to honor incremental steps with awards while never, ever mentioning the end goal of the all-too-baby steps? (Meanwhile, final fish story tomorrow).
I’m not exactly sure what it is about environmentally-minded organizations and fish, but when they get together everything starts to stink. Yesterday’s post highlighted the corporate co-opting of the World Wildlife Fund, showing how Bumble Bee Foods has provided WWF a financial incentive to promote increased fishing despite declining marine stocks. Today’s news brings us closer to home and highlights the political machinations trapping red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Further details are here.
Red snapper, a once popular local fish that has recently reached a global market, have been in sharp decline for decades. To the point of extinction. Despite recent modest improvements in stock levels, marine biologists continue to describe the snapper situation as “fragile.” Despite their greater presence, the vast majority of snapper have yet to reach reproductive age. Removing immature snapper at this point would negate the species’ future reproductive capacity and send stocks plummeting.
It is the snapper’s well-documented and precarious place in the Gulf’s aquatic ecosystem that recently led the National Marine Fisheries Council to pass an emergency measure reducing red snapper season for anglers. And it is this decision that, predictably, sent organizations supposedly dedicated to protecting the environment into a fit of pique. And, of course, a lawsuit. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department just joined with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to file a suit (last Monday) against the National Marine Fisheries Council.
“This lawsuit,” explained Louisiana’s attorney general, “is a necessary step to protect the state’s ability to set reasonable fishing regulations for in-state waters for the benefit of Louisiana’s residents and anglers.” The real reason for the suit, of course, comes down to one and only one consideration: “economic impact.” Stripping the ocean of its weakest species happens to be big business—well, at least for a vocal and politically connected few. Fishery experts estimate about $20 million is at stake in the Marine Council’s order. For perspective: one of Michael Bloomberg’s 10 New York homes is worth about $20 million. And that’s one of the cheaper ones.
I don’t know about you but it kind of brings out my eco-anarchist tendencies when two ignorant states use their tax-funded charade wildlife agencies to sue the federal government for the right to fish a species to extinction and further ruin the Gulf in to order to generate a profit that’s worth the value of a rich guy’s house in Southampton NewYork.
As I said, stinks.
Bring the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) together with Bumble Bee Foods (BBF), and then toss in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the European Seafood Exposition (ESE), have them hawk a product called Wild Selections (WS) and you have more than just a bowl of alphabet soup. You have a roiling stew of corruption fueled by the fire of ersatz environmentalism. Fish stew to be precise. Here you go.
Here’s the deal: BBF is giving WWF a million bucks. WWF will promote BBF’s new line of fish products called Wild Selections (insert that little “R” here) to well heeled enviro types. BBF will have WS approved by MSC. A portion of WC sales will go to WWF who will, with the help MSC, promote WS. ESE will showcase the new product next month in Brussels.If you ask me, it’s a bunch of BS.
Forget all the acronyms and bedfellows and smarmy press release babble and just remember this: whenever an environmental group hooks up with an industrial producer of animals and seeks approval from an industry-funded certifying agency you have, mark these words, the pretext for financial gain under the guise of ecological correctness driven by a false sense of consumer responsibility.
It’s beyond decency. Eighty percent of the world’s fisheries are completely or dangerously overfished. But here we have one of the world’s most powerful environmental organizations linking arms with a company that’s trying to sell more fish. Worse, WWF will profit as the sale of fish increases, providing an organization that promises to fight overfishing a financial incentive to . . . fish.
I mean, it’s as if you had a company like Whole Foods purchasing value-added animal products from farms that have been welfare approved by a certifying organization whose board is full of Whole Foods executives. Oh, wait.
According to his newly released book Cooked, Michael Pollan wants us back in the kitchen. I’ve yet to read the book but when I do (probably this summer) I’ll give it a proper review. For now, though, based on the book’s highly publicized premise (and some reviews and an interview), I’d like to note that, as with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan’s most loyal but ignored friend, given the argument he makes, once again appears to be veganism. Indeed, every cultural and culinary shift he seeks to achieve is epitomized by the simplicity of a plant-based diet. But Pollan, for whatever reason, seems inclined to complicate that friendship.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma is in many ways a brilliant book that exposed a dilemma we didn’t even know we had: our addiction to industrial corn. Pollan, with his signature combination of hortatory populism and seductive prose, encouraged consumers to resist Big Agriculture by sourcing food from small farms, culinary artisans, and farmers’ markets. Although he stressed that the ideal diet consisted of “mostly plants,” he took a slaverously self-indulgent approach to eating animals, going to far as to hunt down and slay his own pig like a crazed backwoodsman prowling the frontier. It all made for good copy but, at the end of the day the meat message contradicted his rousing plea to oppose industrial agriculture. Pollan’s blind spot became the blind spot of the movement he spawned: when you eat animals—be they ones you raised, hunted, or scraped off the highway—you do more for the cause of Big Agriculture than any other single consumer action.
This passive-aggressive pattern seems to be repeating itself in Cooked. Pollan wants us to reclaim the power of cooking. To this I raise my fist skyward. However, the strategy of re-engagement that Pollan advocates yet again grates against the popular gist of his hortation. He says “cook, people!” and then, in a way that only Pollan can, he situates the act out of reach, typically into some agrarian fantasyland populated with edgy Bobos in overalls. Never would Pollan suggest that we source our ingredients from—gasp!—a grocery store. No, that’s far too pedestrian, commonplace, easy, and normal. It’s at the door of the grocery story where Pollan’s populism slips into farmer-chic elitism and his fetish for the farmers’ market is duly exposed. Look, folks. I’ve got no problem with farmers’ markets. It’s just that the food is more expensive, the availability is spotty, and I still have to go to the grocery store for utilitarian items, like canned beans. Cooking takes time. When the ingredients have to be preciously sourced, it takes more time.
What I’m saying here is that, once again, Pollan’s best friend—really, his role model for the food-system-snubbing self-sufficient home cook—is The Vegan. Vegans typically make their way around a kitchen with rare aplomb because most of us, in our allegiance to plants, have already dropped out of the food system that Pollan so despises. We have done this because we have done the most important and effective and rebellious thing that can be done to undermine Big Ag: we’ve quit eating animals. Instead of retreating to some epicurean idyll, however, we’ve simply stuck to the veggie section while ducking periodically into the canned food aisle, bulk food section, and wherever it is you can get some whole wheat tortillas, quinoa, and almond milk. And we take these ingredients home. To the kitchen.
And we cook.
When I hear people claim that they eat animals “off the grid” or support animal production that’s “non-industrial” I always remind them that, when it comes to eating animals, the grid is inescapable and industry’s reach is infinite. Take any example of a “humane” or small-scale farm, yank back the veil, do a dusting, and you’ll find, inexorably, the prints of big agriculture.
Through some dogged investigative work, Robert Grillo, director of Free From Harm, has recently uncovered the latest guilty case of such humane distortion. The farm under investigation in called Wagner Farm. It’s run by the Glenview, Illinois Park District with the intention of showcasing, in Grillo’s words, “a model for the modern locavore family farm.” It is also a media darling, a supposedly peaceful place that’s demonstrating to gullible food writers how you can supposedly have your meat and eat it, too.
In this case, bacon. And not just any bacon, but bacon brought to you by Oscar Mayer, which sits at the altar of industrial agriculture alongside it’s parent company, Kraft Foods (Wagner’s wealthiest Glenview neighbor). In a mismatch made in hell, Wagner and Oscar Mayer have joined up to sponsor “BaconFest.” This sybaritic celebration of gluttony and gore by a “humane” family farm, in and of itself, should evoke our wrath. But when it’s sponsored by a company that sources its products from farms that treat animals worse than objects, our wrath should coalesce in peaceful but powerful protest. BaconFest is on April 27th in Glenview. It’ll be well attended.
What lends this collusion an especially sinister taint is the fact that two of Wagner’s pigs, Rebeka and Leah, have recently gone missing. “Both had unique personalities,” Grillo writes, “and have now disappeared,” despite “several offers from Wagner Farm Rescue Fund to provide them permanent sanctuary.” It is with not a little sarcasm that Grillo writes, “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it just so happens that Wagner Farm’s BaconFest is only weeks away.” I smell a Kraft.
As Vickery Eckhoff has reported, last Friday the Oklahoma legislature reversed a fifty year ban on horse slaughter. The signing of HB 1999 represents a small but critical step in the larger effort to legalize horse slaughter nationally. Oklahoma now joins four other states in seeking USDA inspection for horse slaughterhouses. The lege, Eckhoff reports, took less than 20 seconds to pass the bill.
In one sense, the inertial gravitation toward legal horse slaughter makes little sense. It’s illegal to sell horse meat in the United States, so an eager domestic market isn’t at the ready. The European Union, where horse meat is consumed with some regularity, passed a law in 2011 banning the purchase of horse meat from U.S. horses because there’s no regulation of equine drug intake. According to the law’s letter, there’s no market in Europe, either. Over 80 percent of Americans, and 66 percent of Oklahomans, oppose the idea of horse slaughter. The USDA is experiencing the squeeze of sequestration and, as a result, is unlikely to break out of it to fund horse slaughter with US tax dollars. Why would anyone seek to slaughter horses in this context? Well, there’s more to the story.
In a larger and more cynical sense, Oklahoma’s decision is perfectly logical. The effort to reintroduce horse slaughter is being led by a cabal of self-interested stakeholders whose view is the long term security of any industry that mass slaughters animals. People such as Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state representative, and Skye McNiel, an Oklahoma congresswoman, are, I would venture, as interested in the future of industrialized animal slaughter per se as they are the immediacy of horse slaughter. Another way of saying what I’m trying to say here is that horse slaughter represents a symbolic extension—and thus an affirmation—of the kind of factory farming of animals that not only animal rights groups, but sustainable food groups, deeply oppose. The thought is this: if we can get horse slaughter re-legalized, then the generalized threat to industrial agriculture will be greatly defused. Sort of like insurance runs in baseball.
This is one of those rare moments when animal rights advocates should see eye-to-eye with sustainable food advocates (who have, regrettably, ignored this issue as much as anyone). If my hypothesis is correct, a lot more is at stake than a few fat cats getting fatter through subsidized horse slaughter. The normalization of horse slaughter would, in the framework of the sustained struggle to reduce animal exploitation, make a mockery of the efforts of both sustainable food reformers and animal rights activists to put an end to the evils of factory farming. If slaughtering horses is legalized, our efforts are marginalized.
It’s Easter and, in honor of some strange mash-up of religion and commercial culture, millions of eggs will be treated as the moral equivalent of trash. Calls for plastic eggs will go unheeded under the impression that they’re “inauthentic,” as if belief in a bunny delivering chicken eggs is somehow an example of authenticity. Anyway, not my favorite holiday, Easter.
The industrial egg complex promotes eggs as if they were as essential to human life as air and water. Easter becomes an opportunity to illuminate the healthful impacts of our ova-obession, one too often, in the industry’s eyes, threatened by dubious references to the nastiest word in the egg industry’s language: cholesterol. Even those who should know better routinely succumb to the industry’s rhetorical project. Last summer, a writer at Atlantic.com explained, “The dangers of cholesterol are over-hyped, and we can’t underestimate the value of unprocessed, high-mineral foods.” (So, the production of an egg is not a “process”?)
What’s not overhyped—what’s really ignored—are the welfare atrocities obscured by the elegant simplicity of an egg. Even the most educated consumers eat eggs under the assumption that no blood was spilled to produce the yellow goo on their toast. They know nothing about the fact that, at the hatcheries that provide egg-layers, male chicks are tossed alive into grinders or gassed to death. Or that their bodies are recycled into value-added organic fertilizer or feed. Every egg yolk runs with the blood of a terrified male chick.
Life for the female survivors is marked by systematic exploitation. The birds are debeaked, jammed into crates so tight they cannot spread their wings, and are molted (underfed) to pump out eggs at a rate conducive to market demand. These birds develop osteoporosis, uterine prolapse, and lung disorders from the toxic ammonia wafting around them. Thus life goes on for about 10 months until, typically, production drops. Then it’s the hen’s turn to be killed. When that day comes the hens are tossed into trucks—animal welfare laws do not apply to chickens so they usually arrive at the slaughterhouse with broken bones—and sent to death so school kids can eat chicken strips and grow obese.
Consumers who choose free-range or pastured eggs (or even backyard eggs) are equally complicit in the systemic exploitation endemic to the chicken industry. Conditions might (sometimes) be improved for chickens in non-industrial settings, but consumers are still affirming the cultural practice of eating the unfertilized eggs of an owned animal and, by doing so, they implicitly empower the industrial producers to work even harder to churn out more eggs for more people (and industries) who are always going to seek the cheapest omelette. Can you imagine Americans sourcing all Easter eggs from “humane” farms? Of course not. And the reason is obvious: at the end of the day the egg is an object, and homo economicus will always behave as predictably as gravity.
But the problems with non-industrial egg production go beyond this abstract criticism. The hard reality is that all the feel-good descriptions—free range, pastured, pampered, etc.—are, in practice, less humane than they appear to be. Whenever humans handle animals for profit—be it cultural or commercial profit—the results will be a less than appetizing example of exploitation cynically characterized as benevolence. Consider this account of a family-owned, organic, free-range chicken farm (excerpt is from Jewel Johnson’s Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary):
Looking past the hens at the gate I saw endless chaos. The sound of screaming birds was never ending, and the building was so long I couldn’t see anywhere near to the end. There was no straw, and there was no wood to perch on. There was nothing natural in that building other than death and suffering.
None of these details would make it to the label. The author’s general impression of suffering was soon manifested in an individual chicken:
I looked down before taking a step to find a sick bird hunched down with her face on the floor. Her neck was dangling down as if she was in sorrow. I scooped her up and head out of the building. I looked around for anyone to let them know they had a sick bird, to find no one. I took her to my certified avian veterinarian to see what we could do for her. She was severely dehydrated and emaciated. Her beak was clipped short and it looked raw, leading me to believe she was just unable to eat due to the mutilation of beak clipping from the hatchery she came from. I begged my vet to do anything to help her.
That’s what happens on a farm where animals are treated comparatively well. I do not want to suggest that there aren’t farms that are more attentive to the welfare of hens. There are. I do, however, want to reiterate that any example of humane-treatment will always be the exception that proves the rule: when hens are owned by humans to produce a good for human use, they will never be treated with the dignity that they deserve. More to the point, they will almost always be stripped of all dignity so we can waste their bodily by-products on a holiday ritual that asks us to take a bunny hiding eggs seriously enough to kill untold numbers of real chickens.
Last year, when hundreds of hip Brooklynites ate a horse meat (and fois gras) sandwich at a food festival, my guess is that they thought they were indulging in something off-the-culinary grid. To an extent, that exoticism, verified in the swooning blogs and foodie reports, was part of the appeal, if not the entirety of it. However, as the current debate over horse meat intensifies—as it is now doing on several levels—it’s becoming clear that even the most nibbling support for horse meat establishes the basis for the rise of a new animal-based industry prepared to play its own dirty tricks as its shoves yet another unethical product down the global gullet.
Last week I posted on a Valley Meat Company employee, Tim Sappington,who shot a horse on YouTube to, presumably, deliver a message to animal rights activists. As I noted, Valley Meat initially made it clear that the company had nothing to do with Sappington’s decision, one that it would go on to call, somewhat stunningly, “euthanasia.” What I did not make clear, however, was the fact that Valley Meat does have a vested interest in dead horses.
Yesterday’s press release by Front Range Equine Rescue reports that “Valley Meat, which was previously suspended for inhumane handling of animals it was slaughtering, is aggressively pushing to become the first company in America since 2007 to engage in the inhumane practice of horse slaughter.” Indeed, New Mexico, where Valley Meat is located, is one of five states taking concrete legislative steps to reinstate domestic horse slaughter.
Journalists reporting on this issue have judiciously highlighted the numerous problems with this endeavor, notably the injustice of taxpayers supporting the inspection of slaughterhouses for a product that’s illegal to sell within their own borders. What companies such as Valley Meat are attempting to do is, as we are coming to learn, profit from the industrial waste of the horse industry—in this case horse bodies—with minimal regulation and maximum federal support. This is, in essence, a scam, one that journalists have every right to investigate.
There is, however, something even more sinister developing around the revival of horse slaughter. You think Ag-Gag laws are unjust? Well, consider how Valley Meats has responded to critical journalistic coverage of both Sappington’s act of aggression and the company’s plan to expand operations to include horse slaughter. According to Front Range Equine Rescue, the following (terribly written) letter was sent by an attorney for Valley Meats to a journalist who has extensively covered the issue of horse slaughter:
You are receiving this correspondence because you communicated to a person associated with Valley Meat Company, LLC a degratory [sic], defamatory or threatening statement or aided in deciminating [sic] the information necessary to conspire to do the same. . . . Because of the statements you have made it is my recommendation [sic] that you retain your own legal counsel. At this time any communications you made that threaten or harass any person associated with Valley Meat Company will be referred to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for investigation and prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Terroism [sic] Act. Neither Valley Meat nor the Law Office of A. Blair Dunn will tolerate threatening or defamatory statements and will contemplate civil action against any individuals or groups that persist in that type of activity.
The attorney followed up with a personal and quite threatening e-mail that I am waiting permission to publish. In any case: this is how the big boys play, and it’s something all those locavore Brooklyn foodie hipsters should think about next time they bite into a horse sandwich and drool about it all over Facebook. I’ve said it a hundred times here and I’ll say it again right now: every time we eat animals–no matter what the animal or who produced it—we support the corruption of industrial agriculture. You support, in other words, Valley Meat Company.
Here’s the entire press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATTORNEY FOR CONTROVERSIAL HORSE SLAUGHTER PLANT SENDS THREATENING EMAILS TO JOURNALIST, OTHERS
March 25, 2013, LARKSPUR, COLORADO – Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) has received copies of an email sent by the lawyer for Valley Meat in Roswell, NM, threatening criminal prosecution against others for speaking about Valley Meat’s plans to begin slaughtering horses for food. Valley Meat, which was previously suspended for inhumane handling of animals it was slaughtering, is aggressively pushing to become the first company in America since 2007 to engage in the inhumane practice of horse slaughter. Valley Meat also employed Tim Sappington, who posted a video in which he curses at animal “activists” and then raises a gun to the head of a healthy horse and shoots the horse on camera. Only after the video went viral, and after Valley Meat’s attorney responded with justifications for Sappington’s conduct, did Valley Meat finally terminate Sappington’s employment.
In response to the inflammatory video, there has been an international outcry and articles written by many journalists. Since 2011, journalist Vickery Eckhoff has written over fifteen articles about the tragedy and dangers of horse slaughter for publications such as Newsweek and Forbes.com. In response to her recent inquiry to Valley Meat, the company’s lawyer responded:
To whom it may concern:
You are receiving this correspondence because you communicated to a person associated with Valley Meat Company, LLC a degratory [sic], defamatory or threatening statement or aided in deciminating [sic] the information necessary to conspire to do the same. . . . Because of the statements you have made it is my recommendation [sic] that you retain your own legal counsel. At this time any communications you made that threaten or harass any person associated with Valley Meat Company will be referred to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for investigation and prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Terroism [sic] Act (SEE BELOW). Neither Valley Meat nor the Law Office of A. Blair Dunn will tolerate threatening or defamatory statements and will contemplate civil action against any individuals or groups that persist in that type of activity.
“This email, apparently sent to multiple individuals by Valley Meat’s counsel, demonstrates the approach of this company trying to restart the unnecessary and cruel practice of horse slaughter in America – lash out and intimidate anyone who questions Valley Meat’s practices,” says Hilary Wood, President of Front Range Equine Rescue. “This is just a continuation of prior practices when Valley Meat sued us and others for defamation, because we publicized true statements made by public agencies regarding Valley Meat’s violations of New Mexico environmental laws. I hope that more journalists address this attempted suppression of First Amendment rights, and expose every aspect of the shocking realities of horse slaughter.”
With respect to the Sappington video, Ms. Wood stated: “While the conduct of Valley Meat’s former employee demonstrates true malice, the death that each horse will suffer if any company begins slaughter will almost make Sappington’s actions look merciful. Investigative reports and documented violations from American and foreign slaughterhouses consistently reveal the blatant cruelty inherent in commercial horse slaughter.”
Hilary Wood/FRER, 719-481-1490 firstname.lastname@example.org
Front Range Equine Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education. Since 1997, FRER has assisted thousands of horses through its rescue and educational programs. Many of FRER’s rescued horses are obtained directly from livestock auctions and feed lots, which without FRER’s intervention would have shipped to slaughter. Dedicated to the horses – On the web at www.frontrangeequinerescue.org