Back in the ’60s, the UK government commissioned an investigation into the welfare of “intensively farmed animals.” They then set up the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which developed a set of guidelines now known as the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from thirst and hunger: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease: by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behavior: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
It all seems so simple and reasonable, right? The Five Freedoms describe the world that all animals (and all humans, for that matter) should live in–and you can even count them on one hand. If Old MacDonald really did have a farm once, surely that’s how he would have organized things. And yet, for 98% of the animals we eat, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.
So right now my goal is, at the very least, to leverage another precious and fragile freedom, the freedom of information, to educate myself and my fellow co-op members about what’s happening on some farms that Old MacDonald would never recognize.