Eating Liberally

Eating Liberally Blog

A Devil Of A Proposition

Halloween's one of my favorite holidays--in fact, Matt and I chose to get married on Halloween, and today's our thirteenth anniversary. I can't help thinking how lucky I was to find a true partner who shares my passions and humors my hissy fits. It just confirms that I really made a great choice when I decided to be heterosexual. Oh, wait!--I didn't decide. I was just born that way.

And thank goodness, because I really appreciate the sense of security that comes with having a legally and socially sanctioned union. Imagine what it's like for life partners who are denied the same benefits because they happen to be gay. So many folks who oppose gay marriage claim they do so in the name of family values--as if gay people don't value their families, too. They argue, absurdly, that sanctioning a marriage between two men or two women would somehow devalue the whole institution and open the door to all kinds of aberrant combinations, like people and their pets embarking on a menagerie à trois, or something.

Speaking of animals, it's great to see that 60 percent of Californians currently favor Proposition 2--the bill to free farm animals from the most cruelly restrictive cages--while 27 percent oppose it.

But a frightening number of Californians--44 percent--apparently wants to shove gay couples back into the closet via Proposition 8, the measure to ban gay marriage. The latest polls show that 49 percent of Californians are against Proposition 8, so that contest is too close to call. Evidently, concern for penned-in poultry is greater than compassion for same-sex soul mates. How scary is that?

Phony Christians Embrace Bull

(Image courtesy of Wonkette)

It's not even Halloween yet, but a bunch of folks masquerading as Christians descended on Wall Street the other day to fondle the horns of that famous bronze bull statue and pray to God "to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems."

What makes them think God's not minding the store now? How do we know this economic collapse isn't just part of His master plan to drive his wayward, wealth-worshipping flock back to a less-consumptive, more redemptive way of life?

I was raised in a Christian Science household, so I grew up believing that (a) a Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper offering outstanding international coverage is worth paying a premium for, and (b) God is a pretty spiritually oriented kind of entity who's not so hot on stockpiling stuff.

To my parents' eternal disappointment, I left the fold (but kept the subscription--thanks, Dad!), but my religious upbringing did instill in me a belief that happiness comes not from acquiring material goods but in doing good deeds and nurturing friendships.

Now, millions of maxed-out Americans find this tide of global woe sweeping them straight up to the altar of The Church of Stop Shopping . They may have trouble adjusting, as will our economy--"Consumers Drag Economy Down," Floyd Norris, the New York Time's chief financial correspondent, blogged on Thursday.

But don't despair, all you kooky, spooky "prosperity gospel" goofballs! Shed your pseudo-Christian costumes, stop stroking your pagan bull, and forget about asking God to grant you treats. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I ask you to heed the words of a real fake Christian, the Reverend Billy, founder of the Church of Stop Shopping. Here's the sermon he preached to the people attending Disneyland on Christmas Day, 2005--right before the police arrested him and took him to the Anaheim prison, as documented in What Would Jesus Buy:

Here's the good news!
We forgot something, but now we remember!

We made Christmas!

Santa is our creation!

We made Mickey Mouse!

We built cars, wars...And what we made,

We can unmake. We can change!

For so many years, change came from

Technology, and investment, and advertising campaigns!

We made all that, too! The good news?

It's not too late to take back the responsibility of changing

Our lives! Let's take back change!

Isn't that the best gift we can give each other this

Christmas? Yes, let's give each other Change!

Merry Christmas!

I'm with you, Rev! But can I please have my Christmas present early? Say, on November 4th?

Obama A Vegan Socialist? The Nutty Conspiracy

Will Barack Obama use socialist tactics to spread the vegan agenda? Red meat-lovin' red-staters will really be seeing red after watching this clip from Talking Points Memo, which caught Obama on Wednesday confessing to a crowd at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina that, as a kindergartner, "I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

Oh, sure, it sounds innocent enough. That's because you haven't heard about a shadowy group of subversive sandwich shillers called The PB & J Campaign. No, they're not a bunch of bread boosters, or a front for the peanut lobby, or the jelly industry. The PB & J Campaign is a nutty group of "private citizens concerned about the environment" on a feel-gooey mission to convince Americans to "fight global warming by having a PB&J for lunch."

The PB & J Campaign's website is full of pro-plant propaganda illustrating just how much kinder to the environment a plant-based diet is than the resource-hogging, planet-polluting, livestock-based diet that most Americans eat. Their diagrams make the case for shortening our food chain, i.e. eliminating the middleman--or, rather, cow, pig, or chicken--and consuming plant foods directly:

In any pyramid, taking out a level lets you shrink the base. So, when you cut the livestock step out and eat plants directly, it takes a lot less of the plants to support you.

(Images courtesy of

The nut-lovers at The PB & J Campaign have crunched the numbers:

...the water it takes to produce the beef on one burger could produce peanuts for about 17 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the land that it takes to produce that beef could produce peanuts for 19 PB&Js.

We've already had one pro-peanut president, and you know how that turned out. Jimmy Carter had that crazy fixation with energy independence, slapping solar panels on the White House roof and flaunting his woolly cardigan agenda.

In fact, the peanut has long been the preferred legume of liberals, going back to the mid-19th century when African American scientist George Washington Carver made it the foundation of his sustainable agriculture agenda for the South. Carver, a brilliant botanist, came up with something like a hundred different products made from peanuts, "including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin."

Another one of Carver's goals, according to Wikipedia, was to undermine "through the fame of his achievements and many talents, the widespread stereotype of the time that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race."

So now, once again, a smart, ambitious black man is promoting peanuts. Is Obama part of a plant-based plot to conserve land and water and feed people more efficiently instead of pigging out on animal products at the expense of the entire universe? Has he secretly taken the PB & J pledge? When he talks about uniting red states and blue, is it some kind of coded reference to grape-jelly purple?

Look for the folks at Fox to get to the bottom of this--they may not know about eating low on the food chain, but they do know how to go low.

What MoDo Doesn't Know

Image courtesy of

Memo to Maureen Dowd: if you're going to make an issue of out of Sarah Palin's out-of-touch handlers for playing Caribou Barbie dress-up, try not to reveal your own disconnect with the "real" America in the process. Dowd's column in Sunday's New York Times suggested that Palin wouldn't have been raked over for her makeover if only she'd "popped into Penney’s to buy some new American-made duds."

It's been awhile since I set foot in a J.C. Penney's myself, but I'm fairly certain that patriotic shoppers would have difficulty locating a single item of clothing bearing a "Made In The USA" label at Penney's--or any department store in this country, for that matter. With the exception of niche operations like American Apparel, and some high-end couturiers, we don't really make clothes in this country anymore. In fact, we don't even make clothespins. Go to your local five-and-dime, if you still have one, and you'll see--even the clothespins are made in China. We've moved on to bigger and better things--like fabricating phantom fortunes and manufacturing market meltdowns. Making actual stuff that people really need? That's so last century.

Snack Attack

The satirical saga of an entrepreneurial tyke who pairs two of America's finest traditions--the bake sale and the attack ad. From the Onion:

Precocious Youngster Sells Cookies To Buy Attack Ad


Palin impaled:

(hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

For those of us who keep forgetting to watch Saturday NIght Live on Thursdays, here's Will Ferrell's Dubya amBushing McCain:

And nuthin' says "maverick" like parking your car right in the middle of two parking spaces--and adorning the bumper of your minivan with that banner of nasty nostalgia, the Confederate flag. And, of course, a McCain-Palin bumper sticker. From the iPhone of Daily Kos diarist JackieandFritz:

Finally, speaking of nostalgia, Happy Days are here again, as Obama gets a thumbs up from the Fonz, along with Opie and Andy Griffith:

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

(hat tip: Sue Sie)

The Carrot And The Shtick

Is it in bad taste for the Belgian food show "Plat Prefere"--literally, "Favorite Dish"--to run an episode featuring Hitler's favorite recipe (brown trout in butter sauce, in case you're wondering?) Gee, I don't know; let's ask The Shmethicist!

Shmetha-who? Well, the Shmethicist is a timely new feature from The Jew And The Carrot that addresses the culinary quandaries of flummoxed foodies. The Shmethicist's maiden column tackled the sticky, tricky problem of how to treat Halloween, and add a fair trade flavor to the festivities:

What better way to make people take notice than for your eight year-old to dress as an enslaved child laborer on a cocoa plantation? Sure, it’s tasteless and terrifying, but so is Hannah Montana, and you know that costume will be plenty popular this year.

So, was it was kosher for Madonna get all vegangelical on Guy Ritchie and force him to take his tea with rice milk, or was she being a schmuck? Ask the Shmethicist!

Egg Industry Shill Plays The Race & Class Cards On Prop. 2

The industrial egg industry has truly lost its collective head over the prospect of Californians passing Proposition 2, the legislation that would give farm animals the luxury of stretching their limbs.

Julie Buckner, the Californians for Safe Food spokesperson who went on Oprah to claim that Proposition 2 would destroy California's egg industry, is trying a really tacky new tack, according to today's New York Times.

Buckner told the Times that Winfrey's implied support for the measure "only codified her sense that the ballot measure is being pushed by “wealthy, narrow-minded elitists” who do not understand its real-world consequences."

She went on to dis the Humane Society, who's sponsoring Proposition 2, for being funded, apparently, by diamond-encrusted dog-loving dilettantes:

“This is an organization raising money from upper-middle-class white women writing $100 checks,” she said."

As opposed, I guess, to the salt of the earth Agribiz bigwigs who are funding the fight against Proposition 2. Read Carol Ness's great post on Grist about the egg industry's desperation to derail Proposition 2 and you'll understand why Buckner and her partners in slime are so anxious to frame the issue of animal welfare as some kind of anti-populist cause with dire consequences for your average egg-lovin' Joe and Jane Six Pack.

But this battle on behalf of our farm animals isn't about the rich--if I may get biblical for a moment, it's about the rich in spirit,--as opposed to those who are hellbent on callous consumption and ill-gotten profits. Buckner and co. would have you believe that compassion for our fellow creatures is a luxury only the wealthy can afford. But doesn't a culture that can't figure out how to feed itself without resorting to torture impoverish us all?

Knocked-Up Teen Cuisine

Trig Palin's not the only member of the Palin household with special needs. Now that 17 year-old Bristol's havin' a baby with her hunky high school dropout, she's got special prenatal nutritional needs, dontcha know.

But Bristol's mom is presumably too busy carvin' our country up into pro- and anti-American chunks right now to worry about whippin' up the kind of nutritious, high-fiber meals that Bristol needs to eat to stay well during her pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.

Not to worry--the culinary whizzes over at Kitchen Caravan rode to the rescue with a simple, delicious recipe for salmon noodle casserole that's so easy anyone could make it--even Bristol and the 750,000 or so other underage American girls who flunked Contraception 101 this year.

Apparently, our kids have fallen so far behind when it comes to science and math that they can't figure out the most basic biological equation: boy plus girl minus birth control equals unplanned pregnancy.

Well, we may be falling behind the rest of the industrialized world in a thousand different ways, but the U.S. still boasts the highest teen birth rate. Oh, and we've got the highest rate of incarceration, too. Go, team--when it comes to getting knocked up and locked up, we're number one!

You Heard It On Oprah: Factory Farms Stink

That ringing you hear is the sound of the death knell for the "don't ask, don't smell" era of factory farming. Oprah Winfrey's Tuesday show, "How We Treat The Animals We Eat," blew the lid off the battery cage egg industry, shining a long-overdue light on the bleak, black underbelly of sunny-side up.

Investigative reporter Lisa Ling had to don a sanitation suit and cap before leading her camera crew through an industrial egg facility where 87,000 chickens were crammed into criminally close quarters and covered in, well, chicken shit. Words could hardly convey her revulsion at the stench, but the look on Ling's face said it all; factory farm egg production in America is an abomination.

The meat mafia branded Oprah a slanderer back in 1996 when she got mad about mad cow disease and famously swore off burgers. So, this time, a litigation-leary Oprah bent over backwards to give Agribiz apologists a chance to justify their cruel and inhumane practices. Their defense? Americans need cheap eggs so badly that we don't give a cluck about the barbaric conditions it takes to create them.

We'll find out if that's true on November 4th, when Californians will have the chance to pass Proposition 2--the measure that would force a phase out of battery cages in that state by 2015. Julie Buckner, a spokesperson for the Prop. 2 opponents who've adopted the astroturf-y moniker Californians for Safe Food, warned Oprah's audience ominously that if Prop. 2 passes, "Certainly the egg industry in California will be wiped out...and in all likelihood, eggs will come from outside the U.S.--Mexico, even overseas as far as China."

Because, you know, it's just impossible to produce eggs in a safe, humane way at a reasonable price in this country.

Then Oprah brought out the small-scale farmers who produce eggs in a safe, humane way at a reasonable price in this country. The thing is, letting your chickens run around in the open air and take dust baths and grab grubs and flap their wings requires a slightly higher level of animal husbandry than shoving hens in a box and forcing them to crank out eggs till their bones break and their uteruses pop out.

This gruesome phenomenon, called "uterine prolapse," is a common consequence of intensive egg production. The fact that it's tolerated by the factory farmers in the name of economy and efficiency validates Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle's assertion to Oprah that proponents of industrial livestock production are oblivious to the agony they inflict on their animals:

"The problem with the factory farm industry ... is that they don't think it's wrong because they have a worldview that animals are commodities. They're units of production. They're objects."

We've been here before with rBST, the bovine growth hormone that increases a dairy cow's milk output--and puts her at heightened risk for a painful udder infection that produces pus-filled milk. Consumers have resoundingly rejected dairy products from rBST-injected cows. But that hasn't stopped the lacto-lobby from insisting that rBST is actually a super-duper eco-friendly way to farm 'cause it lets you wring more milk out of fewer cows, thereby curbing a dairy farmer's carbon hoofprint.

Oprah's egg exposé will surely go a long way to inspire a similar revolt against battery cage eggs, but she didn't even show her audience the most egregious--no pun intended--offenses of the industrial egg biz. Somebody else got them on tape, though--a non-profit organization called Mercy For Animals went undercover at Norco Ranch, a factory farm in Riverside County, California, and documented the atrocious conditions that constitute business as usual.

And, as usual, when confronted with the footage of workers wantonly abusing animals, a Norco executive insisted that its standards had been violated, claiming that Norco doesn't tolerate such aberrant behavior. You know, just like those Westland executives who decried the "renegade" employees captured on tape earlier this year at their Chino, California meat packing plant tormenting downer cows. Ah, yes, the folks who own these operations are invariably shocked, shocked, when undercover activists capture the routine savagery of their facilities on camera.

As the Sacramento Bee noted on Tuesday, "Norco is owned by MoArk, the top contributor to the No on 2 campaign, having given more than $785,000." Never heard of MoArk? They're the same conglomerate that brings you Land O' Lakes butter, whose trademarked slogan is "Where simple goodness begins."

Watch the Mercy For Animals video and you'll ask "Where does simple decency begin?" I don't know whether freedom is on the march, but cruel, inhumane confinement is definitely on the run in California. On November 4th, voters will have the chance to say "yes" to Proposition 2, which the Humane Society has sponsored in the hopes that it will help end some of the most appalling practices of the industrial egg industry.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof declared Propostion 2 "the most important election this November that you've never heard of." It was Kristof's op-ed on Proposition 2, "A Farm Boy Reflects," that compelled Oprah to delve more deeply into the question of how we treat our farm animals in America. Can we do better? Yes, we can. And if Proposition 2 passes, we surely will.