<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Perceptions and Deceptions 

Well, I had written a much longer post than this at first, but then all of a sudden there was an annoying error that came up, closed the window I was working in, and I completely lost it. So, now it will be quite a bit shorter than the one I had planned, as now I have to go and get busy with my day's work. Oh well, at least the main point will get across to you. *sigh*

I wanted to call your attention to the cover story in the latest issue of Style magazine. If you haven't read it yet, then I urge you to do so, especially if you are one of the many people who pay a little more for "organic," "free-range," or "cage-free" eggs. Like the article on the undercover work that COK did that I brought your attention to, this article also shows that many of the hens raised in so-called "good" conditions are living miserable lives not much better than the ones lived by regular battery hens on regular factory farms, regardless of what the label says.

I have noticed, in reading posts in the many different groups that I am a member of, that there are still a lot of misconceptions out there regarding these labels. That greatly annoys me, especially when the ethical vegetarians are the ones that are the victims of this deception, paying more for what they perceive as a cruelty-free product.

The article, "Into the Frying Pan Virginia's egg business heats up. But is there a difference between factory and farm?" describes the wide differences in practices that companies engage in that are allowed to use this label. Some of the smaller farmers go out of their way to give their hens a good life and practice sustainable agriculture, while the larger ones are hardly any better than the regular factory farms raising hens in miserable conditions. It's a real eye-opener.

So, the point is that if you really want to make sure of the product you are buying, you need to do a little further research to find out who produces it and what their practices are. If the farmer is proud of their methods, they will gladly answer your questions, and perhaps even let you tour their place. If not, and they offer some lame excuses and reasoning for their practices, not letting you anywhere close to their operation, then that should send up a big red flag. You probably don't want to buy from them at all.

It really doesn't take as much time and effort as you might think to check these things out. You can accomplish quite a bit from the comfort of your home online or on the phone. I will be glad to answer questions, provide articles and other references for you to check out, as I assume many other groups will. There is a wealth of information out there if you will just take the time to read it.

If you truly care whether or not the products you buy are cruelty-free, you will not simply accept the labeling on the package as the sole source of information when you make your decision. While I commend your efforts by reading labels, you should know that the guidelines for obtaining the right to use those labels are not guaranteed to mean that the hens are treated humanely or that they are raised sustainably, with respect and kindness.

This article makes that point rather well.

Each of us should take the initiative and uphold our responsibility to be good citizens of the world. If we can't depend on legislation and our government to police these places and properly inform the consumers, then we must make an effort to do that for ourselves. This should be a priority for us, no matter how busy our lives are. We manage to find time for the things that are important to us. Living an ethical, moral life should be one of the biggest priorities we have. It is a great lesson for kids, too. If you involve them in this research and decision-making process, they are much more likely to grow into caring, responsible adults, making good decisions in all areas of their lives. And, you will also be showing them how to live an ethical life and leaving them a planet that is in much better condition than it is right now. Kids watch more of what we do than they listen to what we say. If you show them that it is important to live an ethical, responsible, and compassionate life, then they will grow up learning to do the same. Deeds are so much more important than mere words.

As a consumer, you have much more power than you think. Only you can decide who gets your money and what practices you will thus support with your dollars. Businesses will respond to the demands of the consumers. They have to in order to stay in business and sell their products. If no one wants to buy them because they do not agree with the way they are produced, then they must change their ways, regardless of what the laws or guidelines say.

The large corporations spend millions of dollars to spread their propaganda and make misleading statements, directing their advertising to play with your mind, even having editorials written that support their views. Don't let them dupe you into buying their products without checking things out for yourself. They will hardly tell you the truth about things that don't reflect well on their reputation. They work really, really hard to put themselves in the best light possible, twisting and omitting facts as they see fit. They pay experts to carefully choose their wording so it sounds better. I know because I have seen their plans and their methods of targeting you in these ways. They actually laid them out for anyone to read. You just have to know where to look. I have shared these tactics in my group. (Archives are open to the public for your perusal.)

There is a lot of competition out there for the consumer's dollar. And companies will do anything to be the ones to get it. If you speak loudly enough and consider every dollar you spend to be like a vote, then you will have a definite impact. They will respond to your demands. For every demand there will be a supply.

We can change the world and the marketplace with a little effort.

We really can.
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