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Lisa Ling with How We Treat the Animals We Eat - Show Recap


Original Air Date:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Where Does Our Food Come From?:

Oprah admitted opening the show that she has been oblivious until now as to where our food comes from and how those animals are treated. To make informed and conscious choices, we all must first understand the process. California voters will have the opportunity to vote on Prop 2 on November 2 that states egg laying hens, veal calves and sows must be able to stand up, lay down and turn around in their cages and hens must be able to spread their wings without touching another hen. Oprah displayed examples of current farming standards where animals are able to stand and lay, but not turn around/spread their wings.

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Nicholas Kristof Article:

Oprah welcomed Nicholas Kristof via satellite, a columnist for the New York Times who wrote an article "A Farm Boy Reflects on Animal Rights" describing his experience as a child. Nicholas explained that he still eats meat, but makes sure that he considers the treatment of those animals before they became his meal. While it's difficult to define cruelty, he shared, people should be informed of where their food comes from. He shared a story from his childhood where it was his job to catch a goose to be slaughtered.

Aware that geese essentially mate for life, when Nicholas would go into the barn and catch one of the geese, one goose would always step forward and was the mate of the goose he was taking to be slaughtered. This memory, Nicholas explained, has been with him through his entire life. He felt it was important for readers to know that every hamburger patty has a back story and consumers should be concerned with what that story is.

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Prop 2 Support and Egg Farms:

To represent both sides of Prop 2, Oprah welcomed Wayne Pacelle from the Humane Society of the US to speak for the animals and animal rights supporters.

Footage was then shown of Lisa's trip to 2 very different chicken farms that both produce USDA eggs. The first farm was Natural Acres Organic Farm in Millersburg, PA operated by Ivan Martin. Lisa's guide, John Baker who is an egg distributor, showed her around the farms. Ivan has been a cage free organic egg farmer for the past 7 years and lets his nearly 1,000 chickens move freely during daylight hours. Ivan's hens produce 800-900 eggs per day.

1 hour away, Lisa and John visited a farm that produces 500,000 eggs per week and runs a cage facility. Lisa and John entered the building with sanitation suits where they found 87,000 hens stacked in cages to the ceiling with 6 hens per cage. A facility of this type aims to provide eggs to consumers at the cheapest price possible. The standards of the farm exceeded USDA requirements.

90% of the eggs consumed in America come from cage farms but the treatment of the animals between cage and cage-free couldn't be more different. Wayne shared that America is an animal loving country and should care about treatment.

Ryan Armstrong, a third generation egg farmer from California joined the Oprah audience and shared that Prop 2 would put his family farm out of business and others because California would no longer be competitive for egg prices. Julie Buckner, who is against Prop 2, shared that California would suffer if the law were to be passed; and while she doesn't want animals to suffer, she doesn't want family farmers to suffer either. Ryan added that the hens on his farm are his livelihood and he does everything can to make sure they are taken care of while also providing a quality product.

Wayne, Julie and Ryan differed in opinion on being able to balance what is best for the animals with what is best for the farmers and potentially consumers who would be paying higher prices for the products.

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Pig Farms:

Lisa visited the Kellogg family pig farm in Yorkville, Illinois where John Kellogg and his son Matt operate the farm that has been in their family for 162 years. The farm operates using gestation pens where each sow has its own food and water supply and is kept from the other pregnant sows. They are then moved to deliver and bred again.

Matt was in the audience to share that his family does what they feel is best for their animals and that if Prop 2 were to go to Illinois, they would go out of business because of the cost to remodel their farm. Matt and his father feel that the animals are kept in a controlled environment that is safe for them and more productive for the farmers to clean and treat the animals.

Lisa then visited Becker Lane Organic Farm in Dyersville, Iowa where Jude Becker changed his family farm that had been operating since 1850 into an organic farm 10 years ago.

The Becker farm cares for 500 sows that are free range on 32 acres. The sows are housed together in groups and taken to individual houses to birth their piglets where they stay for 7 weeks to care for the liter. Jude feels that shifting to more animal friendly standards would still meet demand if innovative farmers were supported with thoughtful and workable legislation.

Matt, Jude, Julie and Wayne each supplied differing opinions on whether Prop 2 would take away consumer's choice for cheaper foods versus organic products and whether producing more organic foods would reduce the cost.

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Veal Calves:

Footage was shown from a 2002 video from the Humane Farming Association showing veal calves tethered to cages where they were unable to move and were suffering from not being properly fed, cleaned and cared for. Bryan Scott from the American Veal Processors Association was in the audience to share that he does not feel that the video represents the industry properly. Bryan stated that the veal industry is moving to group housing and by the year 2017 will be completely converted. Bryan explained that Prop 2 takes the flexibility away from the farmers to make the necessary changes as they are heading in that direction with time.

Amy and Burt Mitchell from Spring Creeks Cattle Company in Wauzeka, WI shared footage of their free raised veal farm where they raise 600 cows, 200 of which are tagged for veal. The free raised farm allows the cows to graze from the land, calves to stay with their mothers, and the animals to roam free on the farm. The Mitchell's never confine their animals and feel that they save money by not using antibiotics, growth hormones, formula and the upkeep of barns. The family also is able to let the mother care for her calves instead of having the hands on work of caring for them.

Lisa Ling Inside American Farms - Company Standards:

Oprah highlighted companies that are making changes in the products they purchase. Ben & Jerry's ice cream uses only cage free eggs, while Chipotle purchases cage free pork. Whole Foods supplies exclusively cage free eggs while Burger King has moved to using 5% cage free eggs and 10% cage free pork.

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