385 Pigs Die from Truck Crash

On Tuesday, 729 pigs were—from what I can tell from the photos—being carried to a Canadian finishing shed on a single truck. The driver swerved, causing the truck to tip over:

Three veterinarians were brought in to determine which of the animals could be saved. Those that couldn’t were carried to the shoulder of the road and shot by police with high-powered rifles and shotguns.

“Saved” is an interesting choice of words, as the survivors were loaded onto another truck, undoubtedly bound for the finishing shed. A witness to the accident said:

I’m glad everybody’s OK.

That’s one way of looking at it. (Thanks, Bea.) Link.

The Ultimate Traveling Coffee Setup

There are two kinds of coffee drinkers: Philistines who make less of an effort to make good coffee than I do, and maniacs who put in more of an effort.

That said, the stuff written by maniacs is generally fun to read. Sean Bonner’s got a detailed piece at Boing Boing all about his ultimate traveling coffee setup. He’s about as hard-core maniacal about coffee prep as a person can be. Check out this detail, as one example:

One thing I didn’t have to upgrade is my scale. For repeatability and general super-nerdness I’ve been measuring the beans and water I use by weight rather than volume for quite some time. If you want to get really precise it’s really your only option.

Me, I just eyeball it, and power my morning blogging by pouring coffee straight from its container into my French press. Good times. Link.


Cornucopia Institute Reveals Glaring Shortcomings at Some Cage-Free Egg Farms

Cage-free and free-range hens have a much better life than their sisters confined in battery cages, but there are still two things that egg-eaters concerned with animal welfare must keep in mind.

  1. Like battery hens, every commercially raised cage-free or free-range hen will be sent to slaughter.  No matter the housing system, it’s never commercially viable to keep hens who are more than two or three years old.

  2. Cage-free and free-range farms purchase layer chicks from the same commercial factories that supply battery facilities. These hatcheries grind up or smother their day-old male chicks, since, being bred for egg laying, they won’t gain sufficient weight to be worth raising for meat.

This week, the Cornucopia Institute released a report assessing the welfare standards at organic facilities. It’s odd that they’ve focused on “organic” eggs, rather than eggs labeled “cage-free.” But virtually all organic eggs also bear a cage-free or free-range label since the organic regulations require some semblance of outdoor access, meaning the birds are at least cage-free.

In any event, the authors considered the welfare standards of dozens of organic egg producers, and have published a scorecard assessing their welfare standards and transparency. The companies were ranked on a scoring system of one to five eggs. At the bottom of the scorecard are companies who refused to share with Cornucopia researchers any information about their housing and welfare standards.

Some of these lowest ranked eggs are private label brands sold by Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Safeway.

The information in the scorecard, along with the study’s accompanying Executive Summary [PDF], should give pause to anyone who thinks that their conscience should rest easy if they simply look for a cage-free label on egg cartons. I’ve written many times that anyone who consumes animal products has a moral obligation to do more than read labels; to get a clear sense of a producer’s welfare standards you’ve got to actually visit the farm. This new Cornucopia study proves my point.

Right now, we have a situation where many cage-free producers want to keep getting premium prices for their eggs, while avoiding transparency and tightened welfare standards. One was even quoted by Cornucopia as saying:

The push for continually expanding outdoor access…needs to stop, and I believe that the proposed standards have gone too far.

Luckily, it’s easy to never give these guys another dime; just avoid eggs altogether. Buy an easy egg-free cookbook, check out a free online guide to egg-free cooking, read a bit on how to shift toward vegan foods, and away you go.

200,000 Vegan Booklets in Six Weeks

Vegan Outreach’s Adopt A College program is off to a flying start this autumn. Leafletter Joe Espinosa writes:

This is the 6th week of school session and Vegan Outreach leafleters have handed booklets to over 200,000 students at 287 schools.

More and more vegans are getting past wasting time debating the best approach to helping animals, and are instead getting out there performing tasks proven to make a tangible difference.

From Chocolate to Soy Foods

Excellent foodie writing about the founder of Scharffen Berger chocolate’s new project: gourmet soy products. Link.

FDA Blunders Delay Egg Inspections

FDA inspectors are now visiting egg farms across the United States, as a result of the massive Iowa egg recall. But this New York Times article won’t fill you with confidence about their abilities. Link.

Wunderbun

Another reason why Manhattan is a paradise for vegans. Purchased at the Babycakes bakery.

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