You’ve probably been hearing the buzz and soon you’ll get to see what the rave reviews are all about: the award-winning documentary The Ghosts in our Machine may soon hit US theaters in select markets.
From Britain’s horsemeat scandal to salmonella or E. Coli outbreaks to debates over GMO labeling, food safety concerns have taken center stage and garnered international headlines this summer. These issues have also shed light on the difference in food safety regulations from country to country. And which products seem to be the most controversial? Meat and dairy.
Chances are good that if you’re reading this blog, you care about animals. In fact, polls show that most Americans do. Not only do we overwhelmingly favor laws to protect animals from harm, more than half of homes in the US have at least one companion animal and 50% of pet owners consider their furry friends as much a part of the family as any other person in the household.
Starting this week, 3,000 egg-laying hens will be given a second chance at life. It will be their first opportunity to feel grass under their feet, the sun on their backs, and the ability to walk around and fully stretch their wings out beyond the confines of a tiny and overcrowded wire battery cage.
For anyone who’s had the opportunity to meet cows, pigs, and birds in an up close and personal setting, like a sanctuary, it’s an incredible experience. Much like the cats and dogs in our homes, these animals are very social and playful, and they have individual personalities. It can be a life-changing experience. So can watching an undercover video filmed inside a factory farm or slaughterhouse. And while such information has compelled millions of Americans to change our dietary choices by leaving animals off our plates, would more people be willing to alter their behavior if they could experience what life is truly like for farmed animals?
Remember the UK’s “horsemeat scandal” that prompted public outrage, meat recalls, and overall led to our neighbors across the Atlantic eating less meat? Yes, the discovery of horse DNA in some “beef” products caused quite a fuss . People began questioning the lack of oversight in food production methods as well as food safety. But, the issue also drew attention to how deeply cultural “food” norms run through our society. The scandal drew a bitter reaction from some because of the idea of eating an animal who is seen in many cultures as a companion or pet.
When my adorable niece was just a toddler, I was blown away by her intellectual capabilities. When she mastered a new concept, such as spatial reasoning, enough to match a shaped block to a corresponding hole on a toy, a silence filled the room and jaws hit the floor. She was so smart, and we were thrilled to watch her develop.
Yet as smart as she was, it turns out she may have been no match for a chicken.
For those of us who choose to pay attention, animals communicate a great deal. Mother cows cry out to their calves. Chickens have more than 30 types of vocalizations and chirp to their chicks before they’re even hatched, and the furry companions in our homes will be sure to let us know when they need something–a belly rub, dinner, or playtime. just to name a few. No doubt, though, we’re sometimes left scratching our heads, wondering what our cats or dogs are trying to tell us.