By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Food For Thought
Humans are funny birds. We get so wrapped up in habits, comfort zones, and traditions that sometimes we forget who we are, what we care about, and why we even do what we do. Thanksgiving is one such instance, sadly exemplified by its alternative name: “Turkey Day.” Thanksgiving is meant to be a day when we celebrate the bounty of the harvest, pause in gratitude for the abundance most of us experience, and share what we have with others. Most people don’t stop to think about the nearly 300 million birds that are killed each year in the U.S., just to satisfy our taste buds. Of this number, 45 million are killed for Thanksgiving alone.
As someone who teaches vegetarian cooking classes, I’ve seen many people turn away from meat, dairy, and eggs and embrace the array of delicious, nutritious plant-based foods available to us. I’ve also seen them change the lens through which they view the world, which I think is critical for shedding the comfort zones of the past and creating new ones. Some people have a real fear that they will no longer have satisfying, filling meals – especially on Thanksgiving. I can say with confidence that they can put their fears to rest.
Our Thanksgiving feast every year is full of comfort foods galore, prepared with organic ingredients from local farms: mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, bread & nut stuffing, mashed rutabagas, cranberries with pecans and cranberries, stuffed acorn squash, corn bread, Brussels sprouts, corn, peas, pumpkin pie with cashew cream, and apple pie. This was our menu last year, and I’m sure I’ve left something out. Indeed, there is no dearth of food on our table on this special day, as we share it with our closest friends and family.
For those who have never met them, turkeys are magnificent animals, full of spunk and spark and affection, with individual personalities and charms. These animals, who have been abused and discarded by human beings, whose beaks and toes have been mutilated, and whose genetically overgrown bodies are susceptible to heart disease and leg deformities, still display immense affection towards humans. They are incredibly curious and follow you wherever you go, and their wonderful vocalizations include an array of clucks, purrs, coos, and cackles.
Turkeys love to be caressed, and people often remark that they respond just like their own dogs and cats. Turkeys even make a purring sound when they are content, and not until you’ve had a hen fall asleep under your arm have you lived. She will literally melt under your touch, relax her body, and begin to close her eyes, softly clucking all the while. It’s a sight to see, and I’m moved every time I have the privilege to witness it.
Some individuals are more affectionate than others, climbing into your lap and making themselves as comfortable as can be. At an animal sanctuary I frequent, a particularly friendly turkey became infamous for her propensity to hug. As soon as you crouched down, she would run over to you, press her body against yours, and crane her head over your shoulders, clucking all the while. It’s amazing how so generous a hug can be given by someone with no arms.
They’re not all saints, but some are heroes. One turkey became my personal protector when I was trying to clean a barn and was continually accosted by a particularly rude and aggressive bird. Each time the aggressor would begin to close in on me, my hero would waddle over and get between me and his barn-mate. It was remarkable, and it happened over and over (turkeys are very persistent). What made this scene even more touching was the fact that these toms suffered from bumble foot, an occurrence of abscesses on the footpads that resemble corns, a common occurrence in domesticated turkeys. Between their grotesquely large breasts and inflamed feet, turkeys walk very awkwardly and with a lot of effort. I was very touched that such an effort was made on my behalf.
I grew up eating turkeys’ breasts, turkeys’ legs, and turkeys’ wings, and I’m still making amends to these extraordinary animals. I believe we’re able to mutilate certain animals for our gustatory pleasure because we don’t have relationships with them. We never meet them face to face. Once I met a turkey, I was never the same again. Once I began to celebrate Thanksgiving as turkey-free holiday, I learned for the first time what “Happy Turkey Day” really means.
Article found at Frontline World
Suicide by pesticide: It’s an epidemic in India, where farmers try to keep up with the latest pest-resistant seeds only to find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of pesticides that don’t work, drought and debt. Since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many drinking the chemical that was supposed to make their crops more, not less, productive.
In verdant Andhra Pradesh, an agricultural state in eastern India where last summer an average of seven farmers killed themselves every day, machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and hybrid seeds — all of which originated in the West — often spell disaster rather than prosperity. “This is the other side of globalization,” says Heeter, a student at U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
The tragedy unfolds from crop failure. Drought, pests, and spurious pesticides are expensive problems that small farmers don’t have the means to rectify. In recent years, as Heeter finds in the fields of Andhra Pradesh, crop failure can often be traced to Bt cotton, a genetically modified breed that contains a pesticide that naturally occurs in soil rather than plants. Bt technology should, in theory, repel bollworm — cotton’s worst enemy — but some farmers who plant more expensive Bt seeds often wind up worse off than those who don’t. One farmer, Pariki, confides that after he fell into debt, his wife killed herself, leaving him to care for their three small children.
In the last seven years, bad seeds, costly pesticide and drought have triggered debt, then suicide for 4,500 farmers in Andhra Pradesh alone, but no one is taking responsibility — not the government, whose policies encouraged cash crops like cotton; not the developers of genetically modified crops; and not the dealers, who insist that farmers don’t follow instructions for their seed. Amazingly, Pariki harbors no grudges. “I’m not angry with anyone because the moneylender has the right to ask for repayment,” he says.
Heeter discovers that less expensive, lower-risk organic farming methods might offer a solution for the cotton-growing crisis in India. But without a sea change in agriculture policy and practices, thousands more Indian farmers are likely to take their own lives.
October 15 – 21 will mark the annual observance of Feed the World Week (FWW). During this week, Food for Life volunteers and concerned people in over 60 countries will serve out millions of karma-free vegetarian meals to the world!The inspiration behind Food for Life, Srila Prabhupada, once wrote: ““By the liberal distribution of prasad (pure vegetarian food) and sankirtan (pure sound), the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.” He also said, “…one earns happiness by making the cows and bulls happy.”
Food for Life Global’s mission is to UNITE THE WORLD THROUGH FOOD, and so we invite anyone and everyone to join us during this week! Contact your local Food for Life representative to volunteer some time, or become an advocate or donate now!
Feed the World Week is based on the following principles:
1. Feed the World Week is based on a simple principle: For one week, the world should experience a wholesome, nonviolent diet, and thus pave the way for a peaceful and prosperous world.
2. Feed the World Week is an open community event to show how food when prepared and distributed with love, has the power to unite and heal the world.
3. Feed the World Week is a call for action: for the world to move away from animal agriculture—the greatest cause of environmental destruction and the principle reason why there is so much hunger in the world today.
Filed under: Cow Protection, Environmental Politics, Health, Morality, Uncategorized
by Srila Prabhupada
During the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, the clouds showered all the water that people needed, and the earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion. Due to its fatty milk bag and cheerful attitude, the cow used to moisten the grazing ground with milk.
The basic principle of economic development is centered on land and cows. The necessities of human society are food grains, fruits, milk, minerals, clothing, wood, etc. One requires all these items to fulfill the material needs of the body. Certainly one does not require flesh and fish or iron tools and machinery. During the regime of Maharaja Yudhisthira all over the world there were regulated rainfalls. Rainfalls are not in the control of the human being. The heavenly King Indradeva is the controller of rains, and he is the servant of the Lord. When the Lord is obeyed by the king and the people under the king’s administration, there are regulated rains from the horizon, and these rains are the causes of all varieties of production on the land. Not only do regulated rains help ample production of grains and fruits, but when they combine with astronomical influences there is ample production of valuable stones and pearls. Grains and vegetables can sumptuously feed a man and animals, and a fatty cow delivers enough milk to supply a man sumptuously with vigor and vitality. If there is enough milk, enough grains, enough fruit, enough cotton, enough silk and enough jewels, then why do the people need cinemas, houses of prostitution, slaughterhouses, etc.? What is the need of an artificial luxurious life of cinema, cars, radio, flesh and hotels? Has this civilization produced anything but quarreling individually and nationally? Has this civilization enhanced the cause of equality and fraternity by sending thousands of men into a hellish factory and the war fields at the whims of a particular man?
It is said here that the cows used to moisten the pasturing land with milk because their milk bags were fatty and the animals were joyful. Do they not require, therefore, proper protection for a joyful life by being fed with a sufficient quantity of grass in the field? Why should men kill cows for their selfish purposes? Why should man not be satisfied with grains, fruits and milk, which, combined together, can produce hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes. Why are there slaughterhouses all over the world to kill innocent animals? Maharaja Pariksit grandson of Maharaja Yudhisthira while touring his vast kingdom, saw a black man attempting to kill a cow. The King at once arrested the butcher and chastised him sufficiently. Should not a king or executive head protect the lives of the poor animals who are unable to defend themselves? Is this humanity? Are not the animals of a country citizens also? Then why are they allowed to be butchered in organized slaughterhouses? Are these the signs of equality, fraternity and nonviolence?
Therefore, in contrast with the modern, advanced, civilized form of government, an autocracy like Maharaja Yudhisthira’s is by far superior to a so-called democracy in which animals are killed and a man less than an animal is allowed to cast votes for another less-than-animal man.
We are all creatures of material nature. In the Bhagavad-gita is said that the Lord Himself is the seed-giving father and material nature is the mother of all living beings in all shapes. Thus mother material nature has enough foodstuff both for animals and for men, by the grace of the Father Almighty, Sri Krsna. The human being is the elder brother of all other living beings. He is endowed with intelligence more powerful than animals for realizing the course of nature and the indications of the Almighty Father. Human civilizations should depend on the production of material nature without artificially attempting economic development to turn the world into a chaos of artificial greed and power only for the purpose of artificial luxuries and sense gratification. This is but the life of dogs and hogs.
The Farm Bill, America's primary federal foodpolicy, keeps high-fat,
cholesterol-laden pork, beef, cheese, and other unhealthy animal
products cheap and widely available. The Farm Bill doled out more
than $70 billion in food subsidy payments from 1995 to 2005, and
more than three-quarters of that money went to producers of meat,
sugar, oil, dairy, alcohol, and feed crops used in meat production. Fruit
and vegetable farmers received less than1 percent of government
subsidies. To make matters worse, the federal government purchases
Farm Bill surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution
to food assistance programs--including the National School Lunch Program. As you may know, the House of representatives made only minor changes
to the subsidy system when it passed its version of the bill in July. Now
that the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to begin marking up
its version of the Farm Bill in October, PCRM and other groups are calling
for sweeping changes. PCRM has been calling attention to the problem
with a new television ad about the Farm Bill, which directs people to
StopChildhoodObesityNow.org. Here's how you can help: 1. Watch PCRM's new Farm Bill ad on YouTube. 2. Call and e-mail your senators. Urge them to make healthy changes to the Farm Bill.
3. Promote vegetarianism in your schools and community.