The Factory Farming Awareness Coalition is an educational non-profit committed to empowering people to save the environment, animals, and our own health through our daily food choices.

Recent Updates

We Are What We Eat

Whether it’s the chocolate cake that brings us bliss or the old leftovers that don’t sit quite right in our stomachs, we all know the drastic impact that food can have on the state of our minds and bodies.

Luckily for us, we have a choice in what we choose to put in our bodies. Cows, pigs, chickens, and other farm animals are not as fortunate – they have to eat what is offered to them.

Factory farms only care about one thing: keeping the animals alive long enough to be slaughtered. In addition, these farms are always looking for ways to keep costs down and the animals healthy, and the best way to do this is to feed animals cheaply, with low doses of antibiotics thrown in.
Just last week we learned that a hog farm in Kentucky is battling porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, also known as PEDV. To protect the healthy hogs, this farm is “vaccinating” them with their own offspring. “The animals’ intestines are ground up and fed, as a “smoothie” — as HSUS dubs it — back to the sows, which could be their own mothers.”
In addition, a practice that is illegal in Europe but still practiced in U.S. is feeding “poultry litter” to the cows – the feces, feathers, uneaten chicken feed, and anything else that gets scooped off the floors of chicken cages and broiler houses. The uneaten pellets can contain beef protein, which can be a carrier of infected bovine protein – the dangerous culprit behind mad cow disease.

If we are what we eat, then it’s worth considering all of the inputs into our food, whether sunlight and water, or dead piglets and chicken litter.

In Our Own Backyards

When most people think of factory farming, they imagine giant feedlots in the Midwest that supply fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King. But the reality is that 99% of all animal products come from factory farms, some of which are in our own backyards.

Since FFAC is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re going to spotlight a surprising local epicenter of factory farming – Sonoma County.

Screen shot 2014-02-01 at 7.13.21 PM

According to factoryfarmmap.org, Sonoma County has an “extremely high” density of factory farms. Specifically, Sonoma County is a local hub for dairy, egg, and chicken factory farming.

Sonoma has over 15,000 dairy cows, 1,500,000 egg-laying chickens and 2,800,000 broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat).

Judy’s Eggs

Animal Legal Defense Fund recently successfully sued the Sonoma-based Judy’s Eggs for misleading consumers with fraudulent claims on its packaging.

Here you can see the bucolic old-fashioned front of the package, and the misleading claim on the inside of the package: “These hens are raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to “roam, scratch, and play.”

judyscollage

Here is the reality of where Judy’s raises its hens – a factory farm, complete with purple “manure lagoon.”

Judy’s sells under several other brand names as well, further misleading consumers: Uncle Eddie’s, Rock Island, Gold Circle, Whole Foods 365 brand, and Organic Valley all source eggs from Judy’s.

Judy’s eggs are also labeled organic, which technically is supposed to mean that the birds have “outdoor access.” However, their certifying agency gave them a permanent exemption from the outdoor requirement based on the threat of avian flu. This exemption seems a bit odd, given that there are many other egg producers in Petaluma that allow their birds outdoor access, without any avian flu outbreaks.

Judy’s provides the perfect example of how meaningless “free range” “organic” and “cage-free” labeling can be, and that local farms can in fact be factory farms.

In case you’re wondering about the distinction between the different types of labels, check out this great guide from the Humane Society.

Rancho Veal Corporation

Last week the North Bay’s last remaining slaughterhouse was forced by the USDA to recall  8.7 million pounds of meat because they failed to meet federal inspection requirements, after being forced to recall 40,000 pounds of meat in January.

The meat in question was classified as a Class1 Recall, meaning “This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turkeys

Turkeys

With Thanksgiving coming up, turkeys are on all of our minds. From the animals themselves to the production of turkey, here are some surprising things you might not know:

1. Flock vs. rafter

While many people use the term flock, technically a group of turkeys is called a rafter.

2. Turkeys are omnivores

In the wild, turkeys eat a varied diet of everything from seeds, berries, grass, and acorns, to insects and small lizards. But on factory farms, turkeys are fed only corn and soy laced with antibiotics.

3. Breasts get in the way of sex

99% of turkeys raised today are the “Broadbreasted White” variety. These turkeys have been selectively bred to produce the largest possible breasts. Turkeys’ breasts are now so large that they are physically incapable of mating. Which means…

4. Humans inseminate turkeys

After “milking” semen from male birds, workers artificially inseminate the female turkeys. A female turkey can lay one egg every few days. She is inseminated and forced to produce eggs at this rate for up to 25 weeks, at which point her body is “spent” and she’s sent to slaughter.

5. Turkeys are speedy

Wild turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour and fly up to 55 miles per hour. But domesticated turkeys cannot fly because of their unnaturally large size. Many domesticated turkeys cannot even stand because their bones cannot support the weight, and most cannot walk properly because…

6. Turkeys’ missing toes and beaks

Workers “de-beak” and “de-toe” newborn baby turkeys. The sharp parts of their beaks and toes are cut off without any sort of pain relief. This is done to keep them from attacking each other while under the stress of intensive confinement. As a result of having their toes and beaks cut off, many turkeys cannot walk and some cannot eat and die of starvation.

7. In the Mood for Snood

Male turkeys have a flap of flesh that hangs over their beak called a snood. Female turkeys decide who to mate with based on snood length (bigger is better), and males are less likely to challenge turkeys with longer snoods. But on factory farms, the snood is cut off along with the beak and toes shortly after birth.

8. Mother Turkey

Baby turkeys, called poults, stay with their mothers for up to 5 months in the wild. But baby turkeys raised for food never set eyes on their mothers; the eggs are taken from the mothers before they hatch and placed in giant industrial hatcheries. By the time her last round of eggs is hatched, the mother turkey will already have been sent to slaughter.

9. No Legal Protection for Turkeys

The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act doesn’t apply to poultry, so turkeys, chickens, ducks, and rabbits (which, strangely enough, are classified as “poultry”) are exempt. This means they can be “shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut”  while fully conscious.

10. Turkeys have superbugs

Remember those antibiotics we mentioned in #2? They’re used so indiscriminately, in such huge quantities, that it leads to the evolution of new, stronger bacteria. A study by the Environmental Working Group found that 81% of ground turkey is infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria!

 Sound Unsavory?

If some of this information is less-than-appetizing, there’s good news! There has never been such an abundance of delicious meat-free Thanksgiving centerpieces, such as Field Roast, Gardein, or the classic Tofurky.

There’s also a plethora of delicious veg Thanksgiving recipe compilations, from the New York Times, to Buzzfeed, to Cosmopolitan Magazine.

#10 on Buzzfeed's List of 41 Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

#10 on Buzzfeed’s List of 41 Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Sources
1. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12202-52511–,00.html
2. http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/wild_turkey.htm
3. http://www.sustainabletable.org/432/talking-turkey
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/turkey-antibiotics-drug-resistant-infections-thanksgiving_n_1110745.html
4. http://www.businessinsider.com/life-of-a-turkey-2013-11?op=1
5. http://www.nwtf.org/all_about_turkeys/wild_turkey_facts.html
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/27450/tackling-turkey-leg-problems
6. http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/animal_husbandry/animhus_tur_management.html
7. http://wild.enature.com/blog/snoods-and-wattles-a-turkeys-story
http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/animal_husbandry/animhus_tur_management.html
8. http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/vtcritters/animals.cfm?cat=Birds&species=eastern%20wild%20turkey
http://www.businessinsider.com/life-of-a-turkey-2013-11?op=1
9. http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddushmsa.htm
10. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2013/meateaters/ewg_meat_and_antibiotics_report2013.pdf
 

Vegan Mac Down

macdown3

 

GET YOUR MAC ON at the first ever vegan mac & cheese bake-off! Sample all the entries & vote for your fave mac & cheese.
 
GET DOWN to DJ sets from DJ MIGGY STARDUST and TRAILS AND WAYS
 
GET MORE EATS from local food vendors:
 
TO COMPETE IN THE MAC DOWN:
E-mail info@ffacoalition.org and we’ll send you more details about how to participate.
 
The winning mac & cheese baker will win everlasting fame & glory, plus a prize pack including chef Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisinal Vegan Cheese” cookbook & 8 ounces of her cheeses, and a gift basket from Hampton Creek Foods. All runners-up will receive prize packs.
 
Get your tickets & spread the word to all your food & fun-loving friends!

What About Workers?

There’s been much talk this week – from the Washington Post to Mother Jones – of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed plan to increase line speeds and privatize inspections at slaughterhouses.

The plan, called HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), would result in millions of dollars in increased profits for multinational agribusiness corporations at the expense of worker and consumer safety.

Evisceration of turkey carcasses at slaughterhouse Nottingham Vet School/Flickr

Evisceration of turkey carcasses at slaughterhouse Nottingham Vet School/Flickr

Most of the discussion has centered on consumer safety. A scathing report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that 3 of the 5 pilot slaughterhouses for the new program were among the top ten worst in the country for health and safety violations.

Under the new program, federal inspectors would have to inspect 10,000 birds per hour. According to one inspector, while working at this rate, “Tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses,” he said. “Not small bits, but chunks.”

It’s understandable that consumers are up in arms about this threat to public health. But what isn’t garnering as much attention is the dire threat to slaughterhouse workers.

* * *

Slaughterhouse workers already face the most dangerous job in America. They must carry out the same motion thousands of times everyday while surrounded by fast-moving objects, extremely sharp knives and machinery, and sometimes live kicking animals.

A list of the types of injuries (and fatalities) endured paints a grave picture:

  • Employee Hospitalized for Neck Laceration From Flying Blade
  • Employee’s Eye Injured When Struck by Hanging Hook
  • Employee’s Arm Amputated in Meat Auger
  • One Employee Killed, Eight Injured by Ammonia Spill
  • Employee Decapitated by Chain of Hide Puller Machine
  • Employee Killed When Head Crushed by Conveyor

These hideous workplace dangers were documented by Mother Jones magazine in 2001. Back then, a slaughterhouse nurse claimed she could tell how fast the line was moving by how many injured workers came to her office.

Now the USDA is proposing to move the line even faster, increasing from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute - up to 84,000 birds per day.

Already 3 in 4 slaughterhouse workers surveyed reported experiencing significant work-related injuries. Further increasing line-speed will drive injury and death rates even higher.

Currently neither the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the USDA considers the impact of line speed on worker safety. The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups hope to change that by suing the USDA and OSHA to take steps to protect the safety of slaughterhouse workers.

What can you do? Sign this petition to President Obama to abandon the dangerous new plan, and boycott slaughterhouse products by switching to meat alternatives like Beyond Meat, Gardein, or good old fashioned plant-based proteins.

For more information:
http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/09/gao-squaks-usdas-plan-speed-poultry-kill-lines
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/unsafe-at-these-speeds/osha-offers-few-protections-for-worker
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/unsafe-at-these-speeds/injuries-and-illnesses-extremely-common
http://www.foodwhistleblower.org/the-lifecycle-of-food/the-problems-of-processing/insufficient-government-oversight/himp
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodsafety/privatized-poultry-inspection-usdas-pilot-project-results/
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/poultry/
http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/102831445?access_key=key-7b5fz4scoq80qt920m7&allow_share=false&show_recommendations=false&view_mode=scroll

BART Ads + Fun Contest

Spread the Word!

Our BART ads have launched in 40 stations and on 120 BART cars throughout the San Francisco Bay Area!

To help spread the word about our new ads on BART, we have created a fun contest for you! Join @ffacoalition on Instagram for our “Find FFAC on BART and WIN!” contest. From September 9th - October 7th, we’re giving away a lot of fun prizes.

For the first two weeks (September 9 – 23), share our contest logo and/or an image of our BART ads on your Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter account (tag us @ffacoalition and hashtag #FFAConBART) and receive an entry (or up to three if you re-post the logo and both ads!) into a drawing for a $50 gift Pangea gift certificate!

On the two following Mondays (September 23 and September 30), we’ll announce a challenge for the following week. Complete the challenge and you could win! We will give away great prizes to the winner for each week’s challenge.  This contest is a simple, easy, and fun way to spread the word about issues related to factory farming AND win prizes!!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Follow @ffacoalition on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  2. Complete any or all of the challenges.
  3. Watch the @ffacoalition account for announcements of the lucky winners (it could be you!).

 

So what are you waiting for? Make sure you’re following @ffacoalition on Instagram and start spreading the word today!

#ffaconbart

Click here for official rules and full contest details.

You Little Shrimp

shrimp_cocktailWhen you hear shrimp, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Most likely it’s shrimp cocktail or Thai prawns or, if you’re thinking metaphorically, maybe scrawny. Chances are, you don’t think mangroves.

But those little pink crustaceans impact mangrove forests, which in turn impact everything from Bengal tigers to climate change.

shrimp2Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States; Americans consume over a billion pounds per year. Almost all shrimp in the U.S., 90%, is imported from coastal countries in South America and Southeast Asia.

There, shrimp are raised on shrimp farms. Much like mammal factory farms, shrimp farms confine thousands of shrimp per pond. This causes many of the same problems: dangerous concentrations of waste, rapid spread of bacteria, and feed laced with antibiotics to keep animals alive.

But that’s par for the course as far as intensive animal farming goes. What’s extra fishy about shrimp is the environment in which they’re raised: former mangrove swamps.

Mangroves_in_Puerto_Rico

  • Mangroves are trees that grow in tropical saltwater swamps. The mangrove ecosystem…
  • Shields villages from tsunamis & hurricanes
  • Provides one of the last remaining habitats for wild Bengal tigers
  • Filters water, promoting the health of neighboring coral reefs
  • Absorbs 5x more carbon than rainforests

But mangroves are being cut down in order to build shrimp farms. So far more than 3 million acres of mangroves have been destroyed – over 1/3 of the world’s total mangroves. This is disastrous for local communities, ecosystems, and the global climate.

* * *

If farmed shrimp are so bad, then wild-caught shrimp must be the answer! Think again. Wild shrimp are caught using a method called trawling; boats haul giant nets behind them, scraping up everything in their path.

Trawling catches many other ocean creatures, called bycatch, which are killed by the trawling nets and thrown back into the ocean.

Shrimp fishing kills more bycatch than any other type of fishing; the ratio of bycatch to shrimp is 20:1. In the Gulf of Mexico, one common victim of shrimp trawling bycatch is sea turtles.

But wild-caught shrimp from Southeast Asia isn’t the answer either; the fishing industry there is rife with human trafficking and slavery.

* * *

So the next time you spot shrimp scampi on the menu, think of mangroves and sea turtles and ask yourself – are those tiny crustaceans really worth the devastation?

For more information, check out this great video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KVJbUHGAQg#at=120
Infographic from the Mangrove Action Project: http://www.questionyourshrimp.com/learn-more/
Human trafficking: http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1596323/the_slavery_behind_our_seafood.html
Environmental devastation: http://www.nrdc.org/living/shoppingwise/meals-mass-destruction-shrimp.asp
Trawling bycatch: http://www.fao.org/docrep/W6602E/w6602E09.htm

 

Isn’t That Illegal?

One of the first questions people ask when they learn about the treatment of animals on factory farms is, “Isn’t that illegal?” The sad reality is…

piggylegal

There are no federal laws regulating animal cruelty; that’s done at a state level. All states have laws against animal cruelty, but most states have Common Farming Exemptions. CFE’s state that if a practice is commonly done on factory farms, it’s automatically legal.

Cut off a puppy’s tail without anesthetic? Felony animal cruelty. Cut off a piglet’s tail without anesthetic? Legal on a factory farm.

The only federal animal welfare law that applies to farm animals is the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This states that animals should be unconscious prior to slaughter in order to ensure a quick and relatively painless death.

But chickens and turkeys are exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Since chickens & turkeys make up 8.75 billion of the 9 billion animals killed in the U.S. every year, this law applies to less than 3% of all farm animals.

And it turns out the USDA isn’t enforcing this law even for the 3% of animals it applies to. A recent report found that even slaughterhouses with gross violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, such as a live pig being scalded to death, faced no consequences.

* * *

What about the environment? If animal treatment on factory farms isn’t regulated, surely the pollution from factory farms must be?

In 2005, the EPA struck a deal with factory farms. If a few factory farms allowed the EPA to monitor air pollution levels, the entire industry would be immune from all past and future violations of the Clean Air Act.

cleanairexempt

Factory farms also became immune from the Right-to-Know Act, which gives workers and communities the right to know what toxic chemicals they’re being exposed to.

So what kind of pollutants are workers and surrounding communities exposed to? Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide levels 10x higher than legal levels for the oil industry.

* * *

It’s disturbing to realize that we can’t rely on the government to ensure that food is humane or just, but there is some good news.

goodnews

 We can take matters into our own hands by boycotting factory farming and switching to plant-based proteins. It’s never been easier or tastier to stop supporting the factory farming system.

To educate your friends and co-workers about this issue, e-mail info@ffacoalition.org to schedule a presentation for your business, organization, or class. To learn more about plant-based diets, visit www.chooseveg.com

Sources for Further Reading:
USDA Audit Report for Pig Slaughterhouses - http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/24601-0001-41.pdf
Lack of Farm Animal Welfare Laws - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others/?_r=0
Clean Air Act - http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/eip-analyzes-epa-cafo-data/
Number of Animals Killed Per Year - http://www.humanesociety.org/news/resources/research/stats_slaughter_totals.html
Legal Analysis of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act - http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddushmsa.htm

Updated – BART Ads Unveiled

Here are the designs for our 2013 ad campaign on the San Francisco subway system!

car ad final

Car Ad
The ad pictured above will run on 120 BART cars across the Bay Area, drawing attention to the often-overlooked plight of chickens. Chickens are the most commonly slaughtered animals in the U.S., with 240 killed every second.*

People who are concerned with animal welfare often choose to eliminate red meat from their diets. Chik-Fil-A exploited this tendency with their “Cow Appreciation Day” campaign, encouraging consumers to save cows by eating chickens instead.

Some people consider chickens little more than walking brainstems, but in fact studies have shown that chickens are smarter than toddlers. Chickens are also the worst treated of all farmed animals. 99% of chickens are raised on factory farms in deplorable and dangerous conditions.

Thankfully, millions of people are now choosing to spare both cows and chickens by shifting towards plant-based diets. Whether it’s via Meatless Mondays or Vegan Before 6, more and more Americans are choosing to help animals (and their health) by choosing plant-based options.

FFAC BART Station Ad

Station Ad
This ad, which will run in 40 BART stations, is designed to help people save their own lives by emphasizing the many health benefits of plant-based diets.

From cancer to heart disease to diabetes, plant-based diets have been scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse some of the deadliest health problems in the U.S.

For a thorough (& surprisingly hilarious) overview of the many health benefits of plant-based diets, watch Dr. Michael Greger’s video Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, and check out the documentary Forks Over Knives.

The Impact of Our Ads on Animals & the Environment
Since 366,000 people ride BART everyday, if only 1% of one day’s worth of riders decide to adopt a veg diet one day a week, it will save 100,000 animal lives and be equivalent to not driving 1 million miles!

 Thank you so much to everyone who donated to the indiegogo campaign to fund the design, to everyone who shared and filled out our content survey, and to all of our amazing supporters and members.

*According to figures from http://animaldeathcount.webnode.com/

Thank you!

Thanks to all of our fantastic supporters, we reached our fundraising goal of $2,000!

This money will pay for graphic design for our ads on the San Francisco public transit system, which will reach over 300,000 people per day. Keep an eye out for the 2013 design, coming soon…

The rest of the funds will support our educational outreach campaign. We have presented to over 1,500 people so far this year, and plan to double that number by the end of the year.

To our many generous donors and supporters, we say:

bartthankyouRemember, it’s not too late to donate! There are still 6 days left, and it would be great if we could surpass our goal.

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