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  •  Profit always trumps in corporateland. (24+ / 0-)

    The ad's they used in CA to try to defeat Prop 2 were straight from the Karl Rove school of fear driven politics.  It was all about how the PUBLIC would be devestated by the prices of eggs and how the poor farmer would go out of business and add to the unemployment situation that is currently known as a Bush Made Depression.

    Bottom line is they don't want the regulation more than they don't want to change their ways to becoming more humanitarian towards the animals.  

    Cash is King, baby!

    'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

    by funluvn1 on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:00:48 AM PDT

    •  absolutely (12+ / 0-)

      now they are threatening that if we pass these measures in more states they'll go overseas.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:02:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good morning from down south on hwy 1 (7+ / 0-)

      Life has been hard for workers at the chicken packing plant here too. Lay offs and cut backs have hit workers hard.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:02:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I've been watching it too. (8+ / 0-)

        Same at the hog farms down east.  The corporations are readying for one hell of a fight.  They are putting their resources in the bank instead of workers right now so the 2% can fight on and the 98% can fuck off.

        Same as it ever was.

        'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

        by funluvn1 on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:05:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just a question.... (6+ / 0-)

          ....since I haven't studied this issue at all. But if all those companies bought 100% cage-free starting tomorrow, wouldn't that have one helluvan effect on price? Yes, diarist is likely correct that these companies are being hypocritical, because they don't say that assuming supply increases over time then they will increase the percentage they purchase. It would be much better to have a corporate goal of increasing by a few % points per year, at least.

          Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass. - Barry Goldwater, 1981

          by Doug in SF on Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:33:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it probably would increase prices, (6+ / 0-)

            but there are many issues involved that include the nutrition, safety and quality of the food we eat.

            The factory farms indiscriminately feed chopped up animals to chickens and inject them with hormones and antibiotics.

            These things are done because they increase yield and profits not because they offer better nutrition.

            In fact they may endanger peoples' health.

            The growth hormones are to increase yield. The antibiotics are to counter the ill effects of the growth hormones. Because the antibiotics are used so indiscriminately and get into our food, we are becoming immune to them and risk not being able to use them to fight serious infections.

            Check out Union of Cocerned Scientists on this.

            The chickens are in tiny cramped cages and do not get fresh air - probably breathing ammonia from urine.

            They are under incredible stress.

            It is more expensive to treat these animals humanely.

            I often wonder whether the explosion of endocrine cancers are a direct result of the factory farming practices like growth hormone injections, etc which may act as endocrine disruptors.

            Are children who eat this stuff reaching sexual maturity at an earlier age? Is this good for them?

            There's no free lunch and Wall Street has helped to drive the direction of agriculture in this country - away from sustainable, healthy and nutritious and towards crap, IMO.

            I try to patronize family farms via whole foods.
            Yes it's more expensive, but I buy in bulk and no longer buy soda or most dairy products.

            The cheap food, IMO, is a false economy, if it jacks up our health care costs:)

            •  cheap food is one of those things (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eve, murrayewv, mieprowan

              that we've come to rely on and expect. We've kinda gotten spoiled by it. Remember when meat used to be a luxury? Yeah, neither do I.

              But we've gotten to the point where we think we can eat red meat 7 days a week, and it should be cheaply available, and we pretend it won't hurt us.

              Can I afford to buy stuff from places like WholeFood? No. Can I afford organic anything other than bananas? Not really, no. But I try to eat well, and somewhat responsibly. I'm not going to say that I'm not spoiled by cheap food, too. But I do respect it. I hope that it gets some respect from those running the show, as well.

              And since I can hope in one hand and crap in the other... well, I at least sent em a sternly worded letter. I'm as effective as Congress! :p

              Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. - James Harvey Robinson

              by pi1304 on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:44:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  if you're close to a whole foods, check (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pi1304, Jill Richardson, mieprowan

                out their bulk isle...e.g steal cut oats...I'm not sure whether something like this compares favorably or not but you don't pay for packaging.

                they have weekly sales and sometimes there's a decent buy on produce.

                they try to patronize family farms which may not be organic but some non organic produce is not sprayed as much as others - e.g. strawberries are supposedly doused with pesticides but avocados may not be.  
                There are family farms that use traditional methods but don't want to pay for the label "organic" but their produce is close to it and their produce is cheaper.
                And Michelle Obama has a great idea...a small garden at home...I'm mulling that over here in Houston and joined The Urban Harvest organization that offers lots of tips on their web site.

                •  whole foods suppliers still tend to be large (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  pi1304

                  they have to be. They aren't always necessarily that large in the scheme of things, but they have to be at least a certain size in order to supply Whole Foods w/ enough food.

                  Whole Foods is kinda my last resort place to shop. Like yesterday, I went to the market and got kale, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, carrots, and basil. I got an enormous amt of organic peaches for $% (like 10 lb or something) and I wanted to make jam w/ them. I wanted to do ginger peach jam. So off to Whole Foods to pick up a little bit of ginger, which wasnt sold at the market. And my jam is gooood.

                  I wrote a book! You should buy it!

                  by Jill Richardson on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:31:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  good answer (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eve, Jill Richardson

              What do we need to spend money on so badly that we must rely on abusing animals to keep our food inexpensive?

              One must look at this question outside of the context of the current economic situation, as factory farming started well before this.

              "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

              by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:01:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  There would be an instant egg shortage (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, mieprowan

            .... so it would be really interesting to see that happen.

            I'd be out there every day around 10 am begging Roxanne and Reddy to come thru for mama and turn loose with one so I could eventually bake something.

            "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

            by AmericanRiverCanyon on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:33:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well, what other companies have done (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Doug in SF, AmericanRiverCanyon

              with rbGH when they didn't have the supply right away was commit to converting to 100% over time. Dannon came out w/ a promise this year saying that 2 of their plants could switch sooner to rbGH-free milk and 1 would require more time, but they still gave dates by which they'd be 100% rbGH-free. Starbucks did the same when they converted. So I think that these fast food companies could say something of that sort like "we are working with our supplies to convert by X date."

              I wrote a book! You should buy it!

              by Jill Richardson on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:33:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Im not actually sure about that (0+ / 0-)

            Pricing is a funny thing. We assume things are priced based on their costs to the restaurant but often that's not the case. When it comes to highly processed foods, much of the costs we are paying for when we buy the end product is the marketing, packaging, advertising, overhead, etc, and not the actual food. So I'm not sure what effect it would have on price to consumers but I wouldnt assume immediately that it would be a significant one.

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            by Jill Richardson on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:26:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  started with (0+ / 0-)

          the invention of the tractor, or at least got going in high gear then.

          "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

          by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 11:59:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You live in SoCal? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        funluvn1, Jill Richardson

        Send me an email so we can invite you to any meetups that we have here.

        I'm Ron Shepston and I'm not done yet. There's much left to accomplish.

        by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:10:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't really understand (11+ / 0-)

      I live in a 'hippie' area and am lucky enough to have free range chicken, pork and beef products available.  The price difference between the supermarket and the free range butcher is, while not negligible, not significant.  Considering the reduced fat and better taste it is a better deal by far.

      So why buy the farmed product in the first place?

      Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:17:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The price is only somewhat less because the (6+ / 0-)

        corporations, while spending a good amount less than the natural growers will still sell for the absolute highest price point that they can.  Therefore, more profit.  They then tell us they can't operate on LESS profit so they must downsize their workers and conditions.  

        This is what happens when regulation is removed from a process.  The corporations tell us one thing, do another and reap insanely huge profits, when for a few cents less profit they could be selling a much better product for the same price as before and still making huge profits.

        Greed is the short answer to your question.

        'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

        by funluvn1 on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:24:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not quite the answer. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indubitably

          I understand why they sell, I don't understand why you buy.

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 06:00:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For myself, I live close to the Farmers Market in (3+ / 0-)

            Raleigh, NC...so I do not buy from the corporations any more than I have to, which isn't much.  However, for many, they have no access to farm fresh meats, eggs and vegies and within their urban world they must go with what they have available.

            'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

            by funluvn1 on Mon May 25, 2009 at 06:11:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why not demand a better product? 30 (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indubitably, mieprowan

              Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 06:16:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you have to help create a market (0+ / 0-)

                true. But demanding organic from the grocery store is a mixed bag - what we really need is more small scale sustainable farmers, and to give them a little help. Finding them and supporting them is an important part of all of this - not all of us are so fortunate as you!

                "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:08:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You didn't follow the links. (0+ / 0-)

                  These are not small scale people, at least, not for here.

                  Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                  by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 04:39:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  where are these links of which you speak? (0+ / 0-)

                    Large scale organic/sustainable is generally less of interest to me than small scale. I am an advocate of more small scale farming, and of people organizing in ways that make it possible to farm without relying solely on farming for income.

                    But large and small are relative terms. Can't really be too small (though can be too small to be truly organic), but can be too large. But it all depends on so many things, that are not regulated by "organic," such as animal care issues and employee rights.

                    "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                    by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:14:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Okies (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mieprowan

                      Here

                      Me, I'm not particularly "organic" tho'.  

                      Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                      by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:58:28 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thanks, didn't find it directly upthread (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Demena

                        Me, I'm not particularly "organic" tho'.  

                        Alas, neither is a lot of what is sold as such, or at least not according to the people behind trying to create the original label. I've often thought the term poorly chosen, and that we should move on to other, better labeling/branding of food that is grown ethically, safely, kindly.

                        The way the USDA is going, that may not prove difficult.

                        "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                        by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 06:24:15 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Any comments on those "farmers"? 30 (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          mieprowan

                          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                          by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:04:38 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I can't judge them from their advertising (0+ / 0-)

                            They are in Australia too, and your laws are different from ours. But they're certainly appealing advertisements, meaning appealing to reasonable values, as opposed to pop values, the latter of which is so common here.

                            "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                            by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:42:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  They all export. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mieprowan

                            Our laws are likely far "tighter" that in the US.  I've found it all to be good produce.  Don't eat anything else much.

                            The bacon I buy in the butcher's ("manufactured" onsite) costs no more than supermarket bacon.

                            People are just too accepting.

                            Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:21:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you will get (0+ / 0-)

                            no argument from me about that.

                            "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                            by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:45:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  Urban is easier (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jill Richardson

              than some non-urban areas. But it will also be more expensive than the better non-urban areas. Depends on where people are growing what.

              "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

              by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:06:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  There are a couple of reasons I think. Most (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mieprowan

            people don't know that there are real differences. They see the "cage free" or "grain fed" or whatever labels on the packaging, but it's just signal noise to them. They probably look for the cleanest packaging, make sure the eggs aren't broken, and cook them up wondering why the eggs of "today" aren't the same as when they were kids.

            I'm guessing, but I'd be willing to bet a good sum of money that the greater part of the US population has NO IDEA of the different agricultural processes now employed. Secondly given this ignorance, they are going to respond to marketing efforts just like most people do. They see Milk X or Y's Eggs on TV and they go to the store and buy them. It's what's available, it's what's cheapest. And with store contracting etc. The larger corporations get preferential treatment and shelving space, especially at chain supermarkets. I go to Safeway for my groceries. My two choices for organic milk are Horizon and Safeway's "O" brand. Both of which are "organic" because of significant weakening of the federal regulations surrounding the term. So I have to search elsewhere for "real" milk, which is a hassle or buy what they offer.

            Organic product sales make up approximately 2% of the overall retail agricultural sales in the US (interesting coincidence there with the Wendy's information). If people really knew what was happening to their food supply that number would probably jump quite a bit. That's why Monsanto et al, was so concerned about the Obama's planting an "organic" garden at the White House.

            One small silver lining of this depression though. Seed sales have increased markedly, and people are starting to grow their own food again. A good time for educating folks about the food they eat.

            "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers." - Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

            by Uwaine on Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:50:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  often it's a question of access (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jill Richardson

            transportation costs add to the end price. And some of us live where you just can't get a lot of (organic, etc.) stuff.

            "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

            by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:04:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So did I (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mieprowan

              until people insisted on what they wanted.

              Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 04:41:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There is some organic available (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Demena

                in the big stores here, and if it doesn't move, they will not carry more even if a few people ask. There has to be enough volume for them. So it's important that people buy it regularly, but unfortunately what's happening is weak organic brands like Horizon and O are edging out the better brands, and still it's all corporate, and still they will not take on small suppliers directly because of how they are organized.

                There are three grocery stores in my town; the smallest is a four store regional chain called Thriftway. They routinely have cheaper produce and it is all labeled with country of origin now, so I can see it's not because it's all from Mexico, either. I expect they are picking up the smaller, more local suppliers whom Albertson's and Walmart eschew. They are probably the best bet for picking up local organic lines and I wonder if they know that.

                There is a farmer's market that I hear is very popular; they have some organic, with hefty prices I'm told, and they routinely sell out by about 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays and I never make it down there by then. They start next month and only go through the season, though.

                There's a health food store that's been around forever and expanded a bit, but they are still far from full line and I don't think they have any produce or fresh meat, just a little frozen.

                So the options are limited here. You can demand all you want but if you do not follow up with your shopping patterns, including spending more for things at times, nothing will change. I've been on the other side of this; I worked at and even ran a small organic/health food grocery for several years, and people were always coming in and asking for things and then we wouldn't see them again for ages. We were lucky if they'd come in to pick up things they'd special ordered. And that was in Los Angeles.

                "Anybody who's made bread knows what happens when yeast sits in its own juices for too long. It dies." - Anonymous Bosch

                by mieprowan on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:07:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Yes But No One Person In That Market (10+ / 0-)

        of hippie distribution is making a hundred million a year.

        I make things for a living that in principle Mal*Wart might sell. But they'd laugh themselves into an emergency room if I offered my wares at a price that would earn me as much as a lower middle class income. They buy from China and Pakistan where the exporter, the importer and the distributor can each make 10x markups on free labor.

        So what happens is there's no distribution market for anything made by citizens. Same thing as every manufactured item you can name.

        I'm sitting here in N. Ohio with all the same transportation assets and all the same factory buildings and all the same resources and mostly the same workers we had when we were the rubber capital of the world, the iron ore capital of the world, and on and on, and it's all idle. Everyone's gradually downgrading to service work for the import crap. You could open one of these factories but nobody would distribute from it. Not enough markup.

        So you can buy from your local farmers if you live rural, or near enough to rural, but it's not an easy proposition for extended urban areas. And as more people move urban to cut down on rising petrol bills, buying from farmers is going to be more challenging.

        Oh, this was never a big problem back when income taxation was steep at the top end, 70-90%. Nobody could keep 100 million and a billion dollars a year for running a grocery megastore or health insurance company, so the economy was never honed to the kind of efficiency that would concentrate so much at the top. It couldn't stay there so why concentrate it?

        Oh well, That was then.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon May 25, 2009 at 05:39:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ok (6+ / 0-)

          But there is no 'hippie' distribution.  I just live in an area that might have been described as hippie tolerant.  I live on the edge of the outer suburbs in the hills.

          So what happens is there's no distribution market for anything made by citizens. Same thing as every manufactured item you can name.

          Um, the Internet has been around a while.  So has dissatisfaction with crap commercial produce.  Seems to me that one plus one equals two here.  If you make a better product I have never found price to be the issue.  I think it is pretty well realised now that buying quality is cheaper in the long run.

          So you can buy from your local farmers if you live rural, or near enough to rural, but it's not an easy proposition for extended urban areas.

          But an extended urban area is exactly where I live.  About fifty kilometres from the city centre of one of the major cities.  But even if that were not true, the pork and beef are not from close by.  Otway Pork, King Island Beef I should mention the cheeses from the King Island Dairy too.

          The reason it is all available in walking distance is because people buy it.  That is what I mean by 'hippie' area.  People are appreciative of it and few buy supermarket meat.  It is a choice.

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 06:13:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It can definitely be done (5+ / 0-)

          in extended urban areas.

          I live in one of the most extended urban areas in the world, and I get approximately 65% of our food (90% from late April through November) from local farmers, fisherfolk, ranchers, dairypeople, maple sugarers, beekeepers, picklers and bakers, through the Greenmarkets. This program is a model of what can be accomplished in any urban area that has temperate-climate agriculture within 200 miles of it.

          We also have CSAs and one of the longest-established food co-ops in the country, right in my neighborhood.

          While the meats and poultry at the farmer's market are more expensive than the local supermarket, pretty much everything else is competitive, if bought in season. The variety of vegetables, over the course of the year, beggars the supermarket produce section, and there is significant savings in food not wasted, because everything is so fresh it keeps about twice as long.

          In summer, my trips to the supermarket are pretty much limited to tea and coffee, and flour, lemons, limes and bananas. And I cook for the freezer, a lot.

          Later today, we're going to have a cookout on our roof, and everything I'll be serving, from the burgers and the buns to the homemmade strawberry shortcake, was gotten from local producers, except for some of the beverages and a few of the condiments. Even the ketchup is locally made.

          The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:05:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Many people don't have that choice (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        funluvn1, rossl, mieprowan

        I live in the exurbs of Los Angeles, and most people's egg choices are $2/dozen at the supermarket, or $4/dozen at the farmer's market once a week.  The labels are somewhat confusing, and as I understand it "cage free" or "free range" can simply mean that the chicken has one square foot per chicken of dirt (rather than a steel cage floor).  I have my own chickens (see shameless pic above) so I don't have that dilemma.

        fka indigoblueskies

        by RLMiller on Mon May 25, 2009 at 08:33:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I am asking (0+ / 0-)

          is why you don't have the choice?  Why haven't you forced better options in your community?

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Mon May 25, 2009 at 04:38:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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