J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted February 15, 2012

Published in Animals

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Pork tales continue; when does the madness end?

Read More: animal suffering, factory farms, gestation crates

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Apparently not anytime soon

I don't know which is worse---the horrors inflicted on our environment, our health or the poor animals that suffer their entire lives so we can enjoy our Egg McMuffin. But today, I want to talk about the latter.

How would you like to spend four months in a place like this? Laying hens spend their entire lives in similar quarters.

On Monday, there was an article in the New York Times (See link below) about the practice of using "gestation crates" for pregnant sows in the pork industry. Did you know that there are five million breeding sows in the United States and that over three million of them spend their entire 4-month pregnancy in a 2 by 7-foot crate which does not give them enough room to turn around? From the article:

At a little more than 2 feet by 7 feet, sow stalls are too small for a pregnant pig to turn around. Being confined in a stationary position for the four months of an average pregnancy leads to a variety of health problems, including urinary tract infections, weakened bone structures, overgrown hooves and mental stress, according to animal rights advocates.

This is just the latest story to hit our mainstream newspapers reminding us of the absolute madness associated with our marriage to the deadly habit of eating some form of meat and dairy three meals a day. As the article points out, McDonalds is now involved in this saga, one that has been around for a long time. And it will probably be around for much longer.

In 2007, Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, pledged to end the use of gestation crates in the facilities it owns by 2017, a date it postponed during the economic downturn. The Humane Society then conducted an undercover investigation, releasing video of pigs in Smithfield’s stalls, and the company once again pledged to stop using the crates by 2017.

Our children think that pigs have a pretty nice life---the 3 little pigs of our youth.

When will all of this "madness" end? The answer is simple---when we stop buying the products. You've no doubt heard the children's story about the three little pigs. Well, today we're featuring "three little pig stories." Here are the other two---from earlier blogs.

  • COMPLICITY — Billions of animals suffering in factory farms Warning, there is a video in this blog that features vivid images (and sounds) of things that take place in today's pig factories. I couldn't make it past the first 30 seconds.
  • Burning trees in the Amazon — to feed pigs in China As Mark Bittman (New York Times) has noted over the years, our meat and dairy food model is the most wasteful, damaging and unsustainable system imaginable. I frequently mention this example of just how ridiculous our meat-eating habits have become. We're now burning trees in the Amazon---to make room for growing soybeans---that we then ship 10,000 miles to feed pigs in China. That's because the Chinese don't want to depend on the United States for their all-important pork eating needs.

All of the above reinforces just how far humankind has strayed from living in harmony with Nature on this planet. Sadly, we are the only species (out of millions) that have taken this route. This week, I am delivering lectures on college campuses. Following the theme of our book, my topic is:

The “big picture” about the food we eat and how it relates to the promotion of health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet EarthOf course, the simple answer to ending the madness is for all of us to start choosing the kind of food promotes health, hope and harmony. When we choose a whole foods plant-based diet for ourselves, we not only promote our own health---we can also save our nation $2 trillion in health care, conserve fossil fuels, remove the #1 driver of global warming, feed all of the world's hungry on far less land, and facilitate the restoration of our degraded arable land, forests, lakes, rivers and oceans. We can also end the suffering of sixty billion "food animals" per year---those who are grown to feed the wealthiest 2 billion people in the world---a very unhealthy diet.

Finally, one more article on "ending the madness" along with a link to the New York Times article about the sows in the crates.

Ending the madness. For the environment

McDonald’s Vows to Help End Use of Sow Crates -

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

J. Morris Hicks -- Member of the Board of Directors -- Click image to visit the foundation website.