How Some Food Retailers Are Coming to the Rescue of Pigs
Foodies, locavores and flexitarians. If the twenty-first century lexicon is any evidence, food issues have reached a new peak in consumer consciousness. And when it comes to our food supply, an important concern for many Americans is the welfare of farm animals. Because of this interest in where our food comes from, how it's produced and a desire to do less harm, we’re entering a hopeful time in the evolution of our food system.
Since World War II, the number of farm animals packed inside giant warehouses has steadily grown. Gone are the days of Old MacDonald's farm where animals roamed relatively freely. Now, most are intensively confined, many to the point of perpetual constraint. Most farm animals never even see the light of day or feel grass beneath their feet. Among the most severe problems arising from this shift to an industrial food system is the confinement of mother pigs in gestation crates.
Gestation crates are metal cages used by the pork industry to immobilize mother pigs day and night during their four-month pregnancies. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals' bodies and prevent them from even turning around for months on end. The pigs are transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.
In recent months, an unlikely ally has emerged for these unfortunate pigs: the food retail industry. After working with The Humane Society of the United States, many of the largest restaurant chains, grocery stores and food manufacturers have announced policies to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chain. This consequential list includes food industry giants like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Costco, Kroger and Safeway.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Triple Pundit
Pig Cage image via Shutterstock