I am very happy with Mayor Daley’s goal to become the “greenest” city in the nation. We’ve made such progress in promoting sustainable agriculture, with the Green City Market and other farmer’s markets providing convenient outlets for purchasing humanely-raised, sustainable food. Chicago hosted Farm Aid two years ago with events around the city, where I first met Sadhu Johnston, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Environment. We are also the host city of the annual FamilyFarmed.org conference and the All Things Organic conference.
Last year, the Chicago City Council passed a ban on foie gras, which is a product created by force feeding young ducks and geese with a metal pipe in order for them to develop fatty liver disease. You can see for yourself at www.banfoiegras.org to understand why this inhumane practice is not allowed in sustainable agriculture under certified organic guidelines. Foie gras is already banned in many European countries and a Zogby International poll found that 77% of people in the U.S. think that foie gras should be banned.
“Smithfield is taking a first step in phasing out crates for pigs, but I’m concerned about 1) the lack of producers moving to truly humane animal husbandry standards and 2) the recovery of the family farm,” my colleague at the Animal Welfare Institute told me.
Yes, group housing for thousands of breeding sows in warehouses is a much better option than sows being crated within that warehouse and I really laud this improvement, however, Smithfield’s practice still entails:
• Pigs living their lives on slatted floors , breathing in urine and manure-filled pathogens as feces fall through the floor and are piped into huge, environmentally-unfriendly lagoons
• A lack of nesting materials for sows and piglets
• Confinement to warehouses with no natural daylight or outdoor access
No more food on the plane…hmmm…Wolfgang Puck is right there; high quality food and now more veggie options, more organic ingredients, and a Humane Farm Animal Treatment program. I liked Puck’s already and these are even better reasons to eat there. With more than 80 Gourmet Express restaurants, Wolfgang Puck announced a systemic nine-point program aimed at the worst abuses of farmed animals in full compliance with the Humane Society of the United State’s (HSUS) requirements including:
Boy, things are really happening in animal agriculture. Cages are opening, crates are disappearing, and businesses are considering the welfare of chickens in their supply chain. If you don’t follow the details of animal-related business practices, I’ll fill you in; this is BIG news.
With a major announcement in the New York Times and Associated Press, Burger King (the only fast food joint to offer a veggie burger at every U.S. restaurant) has said it will give priority to suppliers that do not confine laying hens in cages and hogs in crates. Not stopping there, Burger King will also favor suppliers that use controlled atmosphere stunning (“CAS”) to render broiler chickens unconscious prior to slaughter. Chickens and turkeys are not included under the U.S. Humane Slaughter Act even though at least 95% of U.S. slaughtered animals are poultry. Current poultry slaughter methods include live shackling of chickens upside down by their feet prior to their heads and upper bodies being moved through an electrical bath to immobilize them and paralyze their muscles so they can easily be de-feathered before their necks are cut. Dr. Temple Grandin, a well-known farmed animal expert describes CAS as a more much humane option if done correctly, since chickens will be unconscious prior to being hung upside down by their feet and de-feathered.
BYOB’s not what it used to be; at least not at IKEA. Their new mantra is “Bring Your Own Bag” and it is music to my ears. For years I’ve endured the look of surprise or scorn when I’ve answered the inevitable “paper or plastic?” with a third unspoken option “I brought my own.” I even typically bag my own since it takes the bagger a while to contemplate my words, having never been trained for this alternative customer response. I’ve found that if I stop the bagger after they’ve put one item in the plastic bag, the bag is thrown into the garbage, defeating the whole purpose my not wanting the bag :(
So, how many plastic bags do we use? According to ReusableBags.com, each year 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are consumed worldwide – that is 1 million per minute! They are seldom reused and billions end up as litter each year. The U.S. discards 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags annually. The cost to retailers to provide plastic bags is $4 billion per year.
“Nice trim,” I was told. “Is that coyote fur?” It took me awhile for his words to sink in. I don’t wear fur. How in the world did I end up buying a coat with a coyote-trimmed fur hood? I didn’t know U.S. clothing retailers are not required to label fur if the fur is valued at less than $150.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fur; I love fur on live animals, not dead ones. Sure, in some societies, people wear bison or deerskin, of animals they’ve killed to eat. So where is fox, beaver, mink, chinchilla, or raccoon on the restaurant menu?
Liz Jones, the UK’s Daily Mail fashion columnist, penned a “must-read” column on fur in the fashion industry providing an astute first-hand account of designers and consumers of fur.
My colleague emailed me last week, “I never thought I’d see this, not in my lifetime.” On January 25, 2007, Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the U.S., announced it will be phasing out hog gestation crates over the next decade.
Several days later, Maple Leaf Foods, Canada’s largest pork producer followed suit.
Before we go any further, are you familiar with a gestation crate? According to Bgunzy Humeston, an Iowa farmer: “Picture a sow in a steel bar crate with 3″ of room on each side and about 9-12″ from front to back to move. The animal can’t turn around – she’s always facing the same direction, with her feed and water at her face.” In the crate; for life. The lives of breeding sows are spent repeatedly getting pregnant through artificial insemination and giving birth (as are the lives of dairy cows who must have a calf in order to continue to produce milk, but I digress…)
Having only recently become aware of the Cultural Creatives market, a 50-million-strong and growing segment that shares such values as environmental sustainability and a healthy lifestyle , marketers are seeking ways to effectively communicate with it. According to hereshowmarketing.com, Cultural Creatives don’t mind advertising, but they want it to be informative, clear, and truthful without the hard sells or emotional manipulation . Two synergistic business trends might offer some businesses a great opportunity to differentiate and communicate their products’ value to this particular market: 1) the increasingly sophisticated process- and information-focused collaborative partnerships along the value chain and 2) environmental product designs within system-based, life-cycle processes such as in Design-for-Environment (DfE) and Cradle-to-Cradle (McDonough & Braungart, 2002) approaches.
I recently ran across an interesting article in the Sunday Herald that looked at the game industry and its impact on society. Drawing the scorn of many for its assumed links to increases in violent behavior in children, it evokes in those living a significant number of hours in this cyber reality a feverish obsession akin to a cult following. The industry has often been accused of marketing their products to children who are more susceptible to the influences of the games’ violent messages. However, I discovered two marketing trends in this controversial and very successful $7 billion industry that surprised me: 1) an increasing number of women are being drawn to computer games and 2) game creation, far from any longer relying on simple demographics, is now based on highly co-creative fan-driven content.