Monthly Archives: February 2008

Boycott the meat industry

The United States Humane Society (USHS) recently documented gross abuse to dairy cattle at a slaughterhouse in California. Documented abuses to cattle included poking, prodding, kicking and dragging downed and sick cattle, and even forcing water through the animals’ noses and mouths.

To watch complete coverage of what they found, please visit the Humane Society‘s website.

This behavior is despicable and unacceptable.

The sad thing is that this happens more than you would think. I have read numerous investigations that have pointed to the same conclusions. For years, organizations such as PETA (which many people think is off its hinge) have been pointing to animal cruelty in our nation’s meat production plants, but it took a startling investigation such as this one (which has no doubt come to light because the meat from these sick cows was sent to school children and the elderly) to make people actually start caring about these types of mistreatments toward animals.

This video and the other videos on the USHS’s website make me sick to my stomach. Not because children ate the meat from these sickened cows (although that is horrible indeed), but because the workers at this industrial cow farm obviously think that it is okay to abuse and torture animals. To them, animals represent lower beings than the human race, and deserve to be treated as if they do not matter. What’s more, these animals represent no more than a couple of dollars to these people. This type of mentality makes me sick.

Secondly, this makes me sick because these type of animal factories are driven by our disgusting market for mass-produced food. This system of mass produced food is not only unsafe for the humans that consume the food (with mistreatment of animals, use of unnatural pesticides and fertilizers, use of growth hormones, and the introduction of genetically modified foods), but it is inhumane, and I would argue, unethical, as much of the food that workers try so hard to mass produce is thrown away somewhere along the line from animal/plant to human mouth.

I urge anyone reading this blog to take action against this cruelty in any or all of the following ways:

1. Protest against the mass-production of meat and the cruelty of animals at these mass-production plants by refusing to eat meat of unknown source. I am banning all grocery store meat. If you are unaware of how to buy ethically raised meat, the Local Harvest website allows you to find local farms, read about them, and purchase directly through the farmers.

Purchasing your food directly from the farmer ensures that you will be able to monitor how the animals are raised. Buying locally is also better for the environment, as it reduces pollution due to transportation of food.

2. Do not eat genetically modified food. If you shop at a grocery store, try sticking to those products that are USDA certified organic. These products will have the USDA organic green seal on their packaging. For produce, use this key if you are uncertain about how your food was grown:

  • Conventionally grown produce will have a four-digit PLU code (a banana, for instance would have a 4011 on its label.)
  • Organically grown produce will have a five-digit code starting in “9.” (An organic banana will have a PLU code of 94011.)
  • Genetically modified produce will have a five-digit code starting in “8.” (A genetically modified banana will have a PLU code of 84011.)

3. Write your congressman/congresswoman to tell them how you feel about this issue.

4. Support future endeavors by the USHS by donating to the USHS Investigations Fund.

5. Spread the word about this investigation to your friends who may not know that these kinds of things are going on in our supposed “civilized” society.

6. Write your own blog discussing the issue. The more people who are talking about it, the more difference we can make.

If this kind of mistreatment of animals does not make you feel sick, I question that you have a soul. Please do the right thing and join me in my protest of these types of atrocities. Just doing one of the above suggestions can make a difference. Thank you!

Building a society of dependence: Welcome to the 21st century

Thousands of years ago, men and women would spend hours each day simply to provide food for their families. Surviving was a full-time job. Today, our lives are radically different from our ancestors. But it seems that survival is a little different than it used to be. Today survival is about sitting in front of a computer for eight hours and falling asleep to the television. Hunting and gathering have been replaced with a weekly trip to the local Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee stores. It seems as if our lives have become a lot simpler. Or have they become increasingly more complex and less fulfilling?

I’m sure our ancestors had their share of turmoil. It was no doubt difficult fighting the elements and finding your own food. But they had something that we don’t: a true sense of self-dependence. How many of us today can say the same? Do you know where your milk comes from? Your meat? Your daughter’s Barbie doll? By simplifying life, we have lost one of the most fulfilling parts of being a human. We have lost our self dependence.

I walk around a Wal-Mart Supercenter food aisle, and feel utter disgust as I watch people push each other and bulk up on things like chocolate chip cookies, bacon, and potato chips. ‘Do they have any idea what ingredients comprise these products?’ I wonder.

Don’t get me wrong: the people themselves do not disgust me. They are simply products of their time. I am disgusted by what our society has become. We are so detached from our natural world: dirt has become concrete, flowers have become plastic, and potatoes have transformed into greasy chips (with 0 trans fat, of course). It seems that with a blink of the eye we have turned very real, very beautiful things into a superficial universe of product. We are driven by the need to consume, the need to collect things; for the person with the largest collection is the best. That is what our society has told us, and that is our new dependence.

We wander around junk-filled aisles, trying to fulfill our desire for happiness. We buy clothing in the bulk, trade in our cars for the newest, shiniest new release, and charge that stereo system with surround sound (that we can’t really afford) to one of our ten credit cards. At the end of the day we have the feeling of fulfillment, but as we wake up we are reminded of our unfulfilled existence in this world. We feel helpless. We feel cornered. We feel alone. We have no self worth.

Young voters more flexible in a partisan world

 

My voting history has been quite the ride.

In 2000, at 18 years old, I voted for the very first time – for George W. Bush (grimace). I like to think that I knew no better. After all, I am from the strongly conservative state of Kansas, and even at the university, Republican values seemed to rule among my classmates. Wait – let’s face it. At this point, I had barely graduated from high school, and I suppose I was not exposed to the other political possibilities. All I knew is that Bush seemed like a nice guy, and he opposed abortion.

In 2004, it was quite a different story. As a registered independent, I was now a political rebel. I was gaga over Ralph Nader and the possibility for change. I hated the two party system, and I even convinced two of my friends to jump on the Nader wagon. This is about the time that I really concerned myself with the environmental movement, and I saw Nader as the only committed candidate to this cause. Needless to say, I was heartbroken to see that Bush won a second term. Perhaps even more so because I knew that a vote in Kansas for a non-Republican candidate has often meant a wasted vote.

It’s 2008, and it’s quite a different story once again. Tomorrow is the 2008 Kansas caucus, and I have decided to give up my independence so that I can vote for a Democratic candidate. And I’m not the only one flipping ship. I have read countless accounts of former Republicans going Democrat this time around, as well as accounts of independent voters registering with a party.

At first glance, I may seem like an erratic, unpredictable voter. But if you scratch the surface, there is so much more to my choices. It was a growing process. I went from one conservative extreme, as a Republican supporter, to the complete epitome of anti-government with no party affiliation, and back around to partisan politics by associating with what I like to call conservative leftism.

So what drew me back to partisan politics? Certainly not political parties. To its credit, the Democratic Party has done something that hasn’t been done in decades.

It has given us hope, no matter who we are. It has shown us that this country does not have to be ruled by a rich, white man. It has shown us that there is still hope to join the global community instead of continuing our old defeatist ways (as opposed to Bush’s Us vs. Them paradigm). And that’s refreshing.

The logic is simple. Not even Nader, with all of his big ideas, could bring the emotional movement that is present in just considering that we could be on the don of electing a black or female present for the first time in United States history. Think about it, we are getting further and further from those old sexist and racist paradigms with each generation, so it seems natural that candidates such as Clinton and Obama would appeal so much to 18 to 20-somethings. We are fed up with the status quo, and we want change.

My generation is much unlike generations that have come before us. We are open-minded, worldly individuals with humanitarian, environmental and ethical concerns. We are not so much concerned with reversing Roe vs. Wade as we are with curbing global warming. We are not as concerned with allowing concealed firearms as we are about changing the world (an inherently youthful trait, I suppose). We are becoming less and less concerned with the almighty dollar, and more concerned with what we can give up to assist others. We have quite the social conscience, perhaps because we are terrified of what lie ahead if we don’t.

I’m not completely satisfied to be registered in one party, but I am very satisfied about the possibilities I see with Clinton and Obama. Surely, if elected, either candidate will still conform to the business as usual paradigm that rules Washington, but I see both of these candidates as people who are willing to get back to what’s important for American citizens: things like healthcare, the environment and creating catalysts for peaceful worldwide alliances. Bonus: they are not old, rich white men with their pockets in the oil industry.

So I will give up my independence. I will conform in my quest to elect the most capable candidate for president. But I will not retreat. I will continue to fight for the things I believe in. And I have a feeling that many of my contemporaries will do the same.