Monday, November 3, 2008

California Proposition 2


  • Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.

  • Exceptions made for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes.

  • Provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days.

Last Sunday the New York Times Magazine ran an article about Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, “The Barnyard Strategist by Maggie Jones. As the article says, he’s been “campaigning to unite vegans and meat-eaters in support of California’s Proposition 2, the country’s most sweeping ballot initiative on animal welfare.”

By coincidence, I just finished reading Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food by Gene Bauer, about how he started an animal rescue for farmed animals and the whole back story about industrial animal agriculture.

Now, I’m not not interested in how we get the chicken I make soup with; but I can’t call myself an activist - yet. I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started it. Wrong. I’ll review the book in another post. Right now I just want to say that it made me think about a question which I’ll pose here:

What do you do when you learn about an injustice? Can you turn away or are you called upon to do something?

Reading about the way agribusiness treats animals and the disease that’s introduced to the food system makes me want to consider becoming a vegetarian. Just consider at this point, not make a complete about face.

I like meat. Should I just eat a little bit? Should it be organic from animals living like they’re supposed to, not in factories? That will cost more so should I give it up altogether? Does it matter at my age that I’ve got unnecessary hormones in my body? My girls are 20 and almost 17. What did I do to them and what should I tell them to do as they move out on their own? And what about my husband? He’s all for composting, cloth napkins and beans but can he give up smoking brisket in his R2D2-shaped smoker?

And once again, what can one person do about The System, no matter which industry we’re trying to change?

So as my brain wandered around, I realized there was one first step I could take. We’re trying to get a farmers market into our unincorporated city. There’s the usual red tape that’s frustrating the process. I wrote a letter to our local newspaper supporting the market and sent a copy to our county supervisor.

Small step for sure. For now, I know I’ll cut back on the size of the meat portions, make a few more veggie meals, check prices on milk and meat, read up on it, and of course vote for Prop 2.

Dear Editor:
As a 15 year resident of Oak Park, I believe that a farmers market would be a good thing for the city. Whatever we can do to strengthen the ties between people and build a viable local community, we should consider.

I’ve visited other cities like Seattle with its Pike Market Place and Vancouver with its Granville Island and the value in a public square is immeasurable. Sure, those centers are permanent and include numerous shops and galleries along with the farmers market. But if you’ve ever sipped a coffee and watched the human parade go by at an outdoor cafĂ©, you know what I mean by the joy of spending a few hours at a real public gathering place.

It’s not like we don’t have ongoing examples nearby with the Calabasas and Thousand Oaks Farmers Markets. What a lovely way to spend the morning walking among the vegetable displays, lingering over the olive oil samples and schmoozing with the farmers. When you ask a merchant what to do with some strange looking beets, you’re likely to get a friendly, impromptu recipe from the customer standing next to you.

I know we have to be careful about parking, noise and all the other worries that the permit people have to deal with. But why not consider the spirit, rather than the letter of the law.

As we move into that most quintessential of American holidays, Thanksgiving, it’s time to think about the public good. Let’s save our family farms and our communities and put up a farmers market in Oak Park. If we’re ever going to pull this country back together, we have to start somewhere and over a ripe tomato is as good a place as any.


Green Bean said...

Good for you guys. I hope you get a farmers' market there. My mom always complains that the one in TO is too far and so she doesn't go. I think she might actually go if it was closer. I bet a bunch of people might actually go if it was closer. And suddenly, you'd have access to better, fresher and more humane food and some community.

Bobbi said...

Thanks, Green Bean. It's amazing what making a few political calls will do to a person. May I borrow your icon?