Let us be clear: Truly sustainable agriculture and food production is dependent on animals, not only for the nourishment of their meat and milk, but also for the fertility of their manure, essential to the production of the fruits, vegetables, and cereal crops upon which all of us depend.
–Andrea Stannard, director of Rural Vermont Board of Directors, writing in The Rutland Herald, November 21, 2012.
Let us be clear: Andrea Stannard is wrong. However, in a move that I’m coming to realize is endemic to the lexicon of Agrispeak, supporters of an animal exploitation-based approach to growing food will say something so often, and with such conviction, that it somehow starts to have a ring of truth. It’s a trick, really. You take an idea that’s wide open for fruitful interpretation—”truly sustainable” in Stannard’s case—and you affix it with a technical definition—”dependent on animals” for example—and the concept is quietly removed from the table, fixed, and put in the service of an interest group. Typically this interest group will assume the position of a do-gooder reformer when all it has really done is stolen language to manufacture consent in its own sordid little power game.
In any case, proof that Stannard is wrong is all around her. If she doesn’t care to look, I hope those who think what she says about animals and sustainability is true will.