I collect quotes on post-its and stick them on my bulletin board. It’s a way of reminding myself what matters. My bulletin board is starting to look like a collage by now, so I’ve decided to share the quotes here and explain why I saved them.
For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the Earth.
This quote was sent to me by Ceciley Bachnik Lowe, a woman I interviewed for a recent Best Friends Animal Society article. She’s an advocate for the hundred feral cats in her community, specifically for the “trap, neuter, release” policy, which is the only effective way to control the population.
The industrial system simply asks far too much of our farm animals. It gives them nothing, or perhaps worse than nothing, in return for taking their lives. This needs to change. Animals raised for our food should be provided a life that is worth living. We owe them at least that. And it doesn’t take a team of agribusiness animal scientists to tell us what that looks like. It’s a matter of common sense. We know it in our guts and in our hearts.
I just finished this book and am still marveling at Hahn Niman’s wise telling of her story. She’s an environmental attorney, animal rights activist, and wife of Bill Niman of the legendary Niman Ranch of California (which he is no longer affiliated with; that’s another very interesting story). She’s a vegetarian, Bill Niman is a carnivore, and together they run their own ranch in Bolinas based on humane, sustainable practices. Talk about living on common ground…
–Joel Salatin, the “beyond organic” farmer featured in Food Inc. and The Omnivore’s Dilemma
This is also the title of one of Salatin’s books. When I heard him speak, I finally understood what his brand of libertarianism was all about: Feds, get off my farm. The bureaucratic, corporate-aligned USDA has sole discretion over what food can be legally sold to consumers. What Salatin wants to do is provide his customers with well-raised, clean meat and vegetables free of pesticides. And he wants to make a modest living doing so. But he’s constantly swimming upstream, given the USDA’s intrusive and burdensome regulations–regulations that strongly favor large-scale industrial operations. Most people who have tried to do what he’s doing have lost their farms.
–Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman poet and philosopher 99 BC – 55 BC
I don’t know the original context of this, but it seems relevant today. Food polarizes people: vegetarians vs. carnivores, vegans vs. vegetarians, fast-food devotees vs. the Slow Food movement, kosher vs. treyf, factory farming vs. small, independent farms–and here in Brooklyn, Park Slope Food Coop lovers vs. haters.
There are exceptions to the rule, cases of tolerance and accommodation, but it’s often difficult to find middle ground. For me, factory farms and “good” farms exist in different worlds, with little in common aside from the presence of animals. And for many vegans, animals are not commodities, period–no diet that includes meat or animal products passes ethical muster.