02 August 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Farm Boy Reflects” (column, July 31):

Hats off to Nicholas D. Kristof, who takes note of the trend represented by the animal welfare proposition on the ballot in California this fall.

While this legislation would be an important step in transforming inhumane animal production, we must also call for change on the federal level, where the farm bill subsidizes this sector to the tune of billions of dollars.

In the past decade, for instance, we have doled out more than $3 billion in direct subsidies to large-scale livestock producers. And thanks to federal corn and soybean subsidies, factory farms saved an estimated $3.9 billion a year between 1997 and 2005, totaling nearly $35 billion, according to researchers at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University.

It’s time that our tax dollars no longer finance the inhumane conditions—for workers and animals and the climate—of factory farms.

Anna Lappé
Brooklyn, July 31, 2008
The writer is a co-founder of the Small Planet Institute.

To the Editor:

Nicholas D. Kristof’s column broke my heart. As a recent convert to vegetarianism, I found that it reinforced my feeling that the eating of living, thinking, emotional creatures is just plain wrong.

The fact that geese mate for life, and that the mate of the poor goose that was slaughtered would step forward, was enough to make me swear off meat forever, if I hadn’t already.

As a country, we place so little value on the creatures that give up their lives to satisfy our hunger. Since our food is delivered to us on a bun or in big bags of frozen parts, it’s easy to eat it and not think about what it was or how it was killed.

If people had to see what these animals are subjected to or take an active role in their deaths, I believe many more people would think before they eat. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

We pay lip service to more humane treatment of the animals that we eat, but how many of us look beyond the label on the package of chicken cutlets?

Bernard Burlew
New York, July 31, 2008

To the Editor:

While I am grateful for Nicholas D. Kristof’s thoughtful exploration of animal rights, I was astonished to read that he continues to eat animals, like geese and pigs, for which he obviously has such affection and respect.

Doesn’t he realize that he does not have to engage in this voluntary activity, which causes moral conflict for himself and suffering for the animals?

Mr. Kristof is attuned to issues of human suffering and injustice. I hope he also knows that choosing a meat-based diet contributes to environmental devastation, involves a disproportionate use of the earth’s resources and causes untold health problems.

I encourage him, and everyone who has been moved by his reflective column, to try going vegetarian full or part time, and dig into a plate of something more delicious, more compassionate and more healthy for us all.

Susan Beal
Brooklyn, July 31, 2008

To the Editor:

Nicholas D. Kristof wants animals to be raised for human consumption in the kind and generous manner of his boyhood farm, a way that certainly seems nicer to the animals than mean ol’ modern industrial-style farming.

But one consequence that Mr. Kristof doesn’t note is that meat prices would certainly be substantially higher. And for poor people, higher prices would mean less meat in their diets.

While the comfortably affluent always seem to prefer archaic forms of production and commerce, such as that to be found in a quaint Vermont (or Oregon) village, those of us who live in the real world understand that efficiency and productivity, as well as trade, are what make life better for the vast majority of people in the world.

Mark Nuckols
Moscow, July 31, 2008

To the Editor:

Nicholas D. Kristof’s column has been haunting me since I read it. I imagine my own horror if my husband were to be brutally taken from me and slaughtered after our years of caring for each other and sharing our lives.

We empathize with our fellow humans when they endure mental or physical torture and condemn the cruel barbarians that inflict it.

We know that animals suffer as well. It would be a testament to our humanity if we could at least acknowledge that fact and show some kindness toward the creatures that we imprison to feed our appetites.

Maybe someday our legislators in New York will have the courage to follow in the footsteps of the states Mr. Kristof mentions. I look forward to casting my vote for compassion.

Janet Treadaway
New York, July 31, 2008

To the Editor:

I, too, am a farm boy. I grew up on a dairy and hog farm in central Massachusetts. Although we knew that our animals were destined for the tables of America, we were taught by our parents to respect and provide them with creature comfort while they were in our care.

I have visited many of the grotesque factory farms that now corrupt our rural landscapes. Government animal rights regulations may help. But compassion and civil sense from the large farm entrepreneurs might be more helpful.

Jules L Garel
Columbus, Ohio, July 31, 2008

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