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USDA Organic (from http://www.simplesteps.org)
To use the term “organic” on a food package, farmers and manufacturers must verify through an independent auditing agency that production processes have met all the organic guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA-certified meat, dairy and egg products must come from animals that were given access to exercise, sunlight and, in the case of beef, pasture to graze in (though this access can be minimal). The animals cannot be treated with antibiotics or given hormones to supplement growth, and their feed must be certified organic and free from animal by-products and genetic modifications. USDA-certified organic produce comes from farms that have refrained from using synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and genetically modified seeds for at least three years. For processed foods to be certified organic and bear the USDA emblem, they must contain at least 95 percent certified organic ingredients.

I may avoid most animal products, but I'm no saint. I wear leather and occasionally fur (mostly vintage), but that doesn't mean I'm not an animal lover! I've been cussed-out and had pig's blood thrown at me during Fashion Week by protesters, which is far too aggressive and in fact, hurtful. It wasn't until a few years ago that I was exposed to the truth about factory farming, and the treatment of these animals is absolutely heartbreaking. Cows, pigs and other animals deserve to enjoy the sunlight, play in the grass, consume a healthy diet and be free of hormones or antibiotics before ending up on our plates. Many animals undergo torture before slaughter no matter where they're from, yet are still considered "culinary delicacies" (veal, foie gras, shark fin soup, etc.). Its very important that we support local farming!

Take veal for example: After being discarded by the dairy industry, new-born calves and confined in crates barely larger than their bodies so that they can't move around. The calves are fed an all-liquid diet that causes deficiency in iron and fiber which leads to loss of muscle mass and anemia so that the meat is more "tender" to our taste. These calves are given up to five times the medication than those raised in more spacious environments, and they never even get to see the sun or taste grass.

Foie gras, also known as "pate'" consists of fatty duck liver that is produced by shoving a metal tube down their throats repeatedly to force-feed them until they're slaughtered. Many restaurants including those owned by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck have removed the dish from their menus. Others have simply changed the names of dishes on their menus to try to cover-up what the customers are actually eating.

Contrary to popular belief, shark finning doesn't only occur in Asia, but in Europe and the Americas as well. Many species of these creatures that have existed since far before our time are finned in masses and then tossed back into the sea while still alive! Shark fin soup is considered a Chinese delicacy consumed by the wealthy, and now that the economy is stronger, the demand for this dish has rapidly increased. If we don't do our part to end this behavior, sharks could easily become extinct within the next ten years!

The smell of bacon is intoxicating, isn't it? Well, in case you weren't aware of how this tasty meal gets from the factory farm to your plate, here are a few facts: Mother sows are confined to metal crates barely larger than their own bodies, and even when moved to a "larger" space after giving birth, they are still unable to turn around or lie down comfortably. The piglets are taken from their mothers after less than a month and packed into pens with concrete floors and metal bars where they endure stress-related tail-biting. 

Farmers then break-off the ends of piglets' teeth and have their tails sliced and yanked off with clippers while they are completely conscious. This results in infected wounds from the open sores which is added to the noxious gases that they are already breathing from living in confined pens full of urine and feces. The unwanted runts are killed-off by having their heads slammed against the concrete floors or left to starve to death.

Several pigs die during transportation before they even reach the slaughterhouse, while the survivors are hung upside-down by their back legs until they bleed to death. If that still doesn't do the job, their throats are slit to speed-up the process. As you may know, pigs are quite intelligent, so they are completely traumatized throughout their short lives and suffer from lesions caused by pneumonia.

As for chicken, many companies have attempted to advertise this meat as "cage-free", because they are placed in dark warehouses at factory farms instead. The beaks are cut-off to prevent fighting among other chickens until they are beheaded and dipped into scalding hot water if they don't die right away. Many chickens raised for egg production are kept in cages where they can barely move and are starved for weeks to increase the amount of eggs per chicken.

The cancer-causing arsenic that is found in chicken litter is often fed to cows in farms and remains in their tissue until consumed by humans once ground into burgers. These so-called "free range" animals are raised into sheds full of disease and are forced to go days without food or water. They are slaughtered in the exact same ways as those from factory farms, so don't believe the hype!

Today's meat industry favors quantity over quality, and contaminates have continued to grow from hormones and overproduction in factory farms. The ammonia injected into most of the beef produced in the United States has the trimmings removed for dog food, which are even more contaminated. Farmers claim that cows are slaughtered painlessly, yet they are paralyzed and torn apart while still alive.

If you haven't read the book or seen the film 'Fast Food Nation' by Eric Schlosser, I highly recommend it. He uncovered the fast food industry and revealed the conditions of the animals from birth until death. Science also plays a big part in food production by using techniques to emulate the senses that we received from "real" foods.

The meat sold to fast food restaurants contains fats and random animal parts thrown into a processor by the factory before more chemicals are used to preserve the meat in freezers. High-fructose corn syrup is present in most fast foods, and increases food cravings and causes the body to store more fat. Its no wonder that Americans are so overweight and unhealthy!

Billions of animals are slaughtered for food in the United States every year with little legal protection, which wouldn't be the case if this abuse was recognize with house pets. Humans are the only species that consumes milk from other animals, and the BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), is given to cows to increase milk production. The grass-fed cows at factory farms are unable to produce the amount of milk demanded on a daily basis, so they are fed an extra-rich diet that often lead to lameness and ketosis. These same cows are slaughtered for meat production to provide delicious burgers full of chemicals and hormones for you to enjoy!

It brings me a little peace of mind when I see a family that owns their own small chicken and dairy farms with plenty of room for the animals to roam. If you're going to consume animal products, consider local options, because there's nothing wrong with being picky when it comes to being healthy and cruelty-free! If a restaurant or store doesn't know exactly where their food comes from, don't eat it! Please check out http://meat.org.

The following videos are examples of what really happens in factory farms nationwide and worldwide. Please support local farming so we can stop this!

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