Where does all this guilt come from? We can't talk about expensive things now because somewhere there are people who can't afford those things? How you found a way to slip in a diatribe about the evil empire of US of A in this topic is beyond me. I apologize, I'll be sure to always preface any post referencing food with a statement of "how blessed am I to be able to talk about food when there are people in the world who don't have any" so that everyone knows I'm compassionate and have perspective on the daily struggle to survive, ok? Jeez
Your logic escapes me. Well, I guess I should say that I understand what you're saying, but it's kind of all over the place.
Sure, we can all agree that buying product on the basis of *taste* is a good idea if that's your argument. Great. Or not buying product that's raised in a 'gross' way. Got it. Must be clean. But if that's true then isn't it ok to buy an animal that is treated like sh*t every day of its life if it tastes better? How about if my local economy depends on the chicken factory that cages its birds? What if organic products tasted like crap? Would you still opt for them? My point is simple. You either believe that animals have rights because they have some sort of 'feelings', or you don't. If you do (which you obviously do, as do I) then purposefully raising and killing something which you believe to have those types of feelings either makes us hypocrites or heartless nobs, take your pick. So yes, to me it is hypocritical to buy a slab of beef just because its owner gave it a 'happy life'....because if we believe the cow has the capacity and right to be 'happy' then why do we have the right to kill it and eat it?
Let me try and explain better:
Do you believe that animals grown for consumption and destined for slaughter should be treated humanely? I do. *BUT* If that's true then aren't we worse than the people who don't believe that because we are knowingly killing something that we believe has 'feelings' and deserves humane treatment? My belief is that it has less to do with the animals 'feelings' and more to do with our own. It primarily makes *us* feel better.
If you don't believe that they have any feelings and they are simply a product that we are growing for our dinner table much like you would farm corn or anything else (which is how most farmers that I know feel, including those running organic farms, etc.) then why is it bad that the chicken can't get up and run around? or the practice of foie gras? or kobe beef? It's just a walking storage vessel for my future steak for goodness sake not a pet right?
I personally don't see a middle ground, and I'm not a big fan of wishy washy feelgood answers. This is a black and white issue, but it's made grey by the simple fact that we participate in this ugly practice of mass slaughter and we try and justify it to ourselves. When faced with some nasty fact about the industry we cry foul, and create 'free range' farms (in which the chickens still never leave the barn) so that we can throw it into the shopping cart without guilt. What!?? They force fed a goose just so some rich guy can go to a fancy restaraunt and order it? It must be stopped! Why? Because it's an easy item to focus on that impacts few people but can make us all feel better, and we get to stick it to the rich guys in the process......while a similar practice takes place in cattle lots around the country. But we can't stop that because it would actually make an impact on *us*.
I grew up on a farm. Slaughter and the raising of animals is certainly nothing new to me, but I do believe that animals can suffer....yet I also apparently believe that the end product is worth all that suffering because I consume it right? So yes, I call that being a hypocrite. I also say that if we're willing to kill the animal then all of our fretting and posturing about the 'quality' of its life is also hypocritical. Playing mental games by treating an animal like Bambi one minute, and then acting like it's just a slab of venison the next when it comes slaughter time is a bit schizophrenic if you ask me. Complaining about stuffing food down the mouth of a goose, but having no problem with killing it, and then 'stuffing' it and eating that same goose just seems a bit laughable.
I suspect that most of us would reflexively say we don't want an animal to suffer 'needlessly' right? All I'm saying is that we should think about *why* we feel that way. What if I drugged the goose so that it was unconscious for its entire life? It wouldn't be suffering right? But most of us wouldn't feel right about that either, so it can't just be the suffering that makes us feel uneasy. It's a innate belief that an animal should have a right to some sort of 'life', or what we perceive as normality for that particular creature. We think cows/sheep/etc have it to some degree because we see them lazing around in the fields or their pens and the CAFO's are kept out of sight, but we're upset when we see caged chickens that cannot move. It may not be suffering in the sense of pain, but we're outraged because it isn't allowed to do what a 'normal' chicken does...peck around and eat its own feces,etc. (I'm sorry, but chickens are the absolute nastiest creatures that have ever walked the face of the planet). Yet this chicken may have never seen or been in a natural situation in its entire short lifespan....what is normal for it? How do we know if it's happy or sad? Maybe it thinks it's in a penthouse suite and tells all his friends about how awesome it is that he gets everything brought to him and doesn't have to walk anywhere. Or maybe he doesn't, but what if I could give him some drugs in his feed which made him think he was happy?
I've rambled on again, sorry. The practice of rearing animals for slaughter can be a grisly looking business, particularly the CAFO's, but I'm convinced that we try and ascribe human traits to these animals and much of what drives our feelings on this topic has more to do with making ourselves feel better than the animals.....otherwise there'd be quite a few more vegetarians :)
p.s. In regards to cows, corn and antibiotics/drugs, there are two main reasons that drugs are needed, one is 'natural' (if you can call anything in a feedlot natural) in that the close confines with so many other cattle can obviously create infectious conditions. The other reason, and the one that I mentioned precisely because it's not natural is due to the feeding of such large amount of corn. If you shove that much corn into them and don't give them drugs to counteract its effects they die. Period. I just don't understand why this is not just as bad as force feeding a goose.
p.p.s. - This topic reminded of a great book. I'd highly recommend reading the Michael Pollan book "The Omnivores Dilemma" as it goes into this topic quite in depthas well as the corn issue, the corn subsidies, and antibiotics/drugs, and much more.