Perhaps There Is Another Hidden Ingredient In Your Burger?

Male Jersey Calf

Male Jersey Calf


I got a mail in my in-box this morning from Tozie Zokufa, one of South Africa’s leading voices on animal welfare issues and the most outspoken I know of about the inherent cruelty of factory farming. Together with Louise van der Merwe, Tozie is the voice for the Compassion in World Farming chapter in South Africa. Compassion in World Farming is the world’s leading animal welfare charity and place of activism for the plight of industrial animals treated as and viewed as products in the factory farming system that provides most of our supermarkets with our food.
Before I head on with my point, if you haven’t come across their local monthly publication that highlights local issues around factory farming and animal welfare issues in South Africa – make it a priority to register for the online publication each month and to keep up to date with them. Let this be one of the most important steps you take towards getting transparent about what you’re eating.
Click here for their website…and Click here for the international main website.
There is no greater resource for information about what factory farming is all about – as well as a site for your own activism. They regularly have campaigns and some of the most successful in the world. Have a look at their websites for history, you want to join these sites and link with these incredible people, it’s a very direct form of activism – they will keep you informed about what’s relevant in the fight against factory farming, what’s going on with your food and will ask you in return for your voice in their campaigns.
They have been the drivers for amending legislation to phase out sow stalls in commercial piggeries – a huge victory, they run school programs to teach children about humane farming, they have been one of the loudest voices globally for the plight of battery chickens and in his latest mail, Tozie is drawing attention to the plight of male calves in the dairy industry.
I’m going to copy a link to that mail for you so that you can assist them in this campaign but for now, I want to chat about what this means held up against our value of transparency that I referred to yesterday as a vital pillar in the Jozi Real Food Revolution.
Transparency comes with some difficulties. I think we need to talk about them. If we are going to get real about our food and we’re going to deal with real information and we’re not going to ask the retailers to sell us grand illusions and ‘red barn’ fake logos – are we equipped with the internal skill to deal with this type of world efficiently?
If that sounds crazy, let me talk a bit here about the reality of the male dairy calf for you and present you with a dilemma that reveals just how much more responsibility we need to take as empowered consumers than we ever have done previously.
It’s all very well to get up in arms about the cruelty that dairy male calves get subjected to, and we must – we must all stand for a society that yells NO at any act disrespectful of life and that subjects any other life form to brutality.
Yet, it’s not effective. We have to take responsibility for our role in this. The blame does not solely lie at the farmers feet, it lies equally on ours.
If we are going to outsource our nutrition, the food that feeds us to anonymous farmers, factories and slick retailers – without question – while we ask for cheap food because we prioritize it so badly, while we ask for efficiency because we prioritize it so badly – we are in fact creating the very conditions upon which this kind of efficient ‘factory’ farming lies.
We can’t stand hand on hip and yell about this and get angry with the farmers. The very same ones we never wanted to know, we didn’t ask to know while to boot we don’t understand the first bit about farming and when we’re going to yell our head’ s off if the price isn’t competitive. The very fact that we want ‘competitive’ pricing drives a factory farmer to need to be efficient, the need to be efficient means that anything that threatens efficiency, like an inconvenient male calf needs to be gotten rid of.
So if we are to participate in the Jozi Real Food Revolution and meaningfully engage with the value of transparency – the very value that will protect you for anybody throwing foreign matter into your food – then we need to be ready, willing and able to be part of helping farmers resolve the problems of getting food to market.
This became so real for me when I was last with Mandy at her plot. We were watching her small herd of dairy cows stroll back into the property from the road. They have daily access to neighboring plots for grazing and they stroll out leisurely every morning and wander around grazing wherever they please until milking time and feeding time when they are called in. I could watch them for hours, they just make me so settled, cows- a story for another day.
Anyhow so Mandy was talking about their bull and how difficult it was to decide to slaughter him for their own meat consumption. He is all grown up and as a male bull, this is just a cow that chews up resources but doesn’t generate any income. Mandy can sell milk and make yoghurt from the milk of her cows to generate revenue for the costs of running the farm. She has to replenish the ground that the cows graze off, the male cows eat more than the females and aren’t suitable generally for meat.
So she said that she didn’t know what she would do once this herd gets bigger. What do you do with the males? We couldn’t come up with an answer there and then and that’s 2 conscious human beings, who care about animals and want to do it properly on a tiny family run farm. It’s a dilemma in that setting, if she grows and gets a larger herd, what must she do with the growing number of males, she won’t be able to afford to feed them while they provide no income, as the herd gets bigger they have to be managed – what do you do?
So Mandy said, this is a dilemma – so I said ‘well let me ask the customers’ – what do you think?
What can be done with male calves in the dairy industry? Same dilemma with male chicks in egg farms – what do you want the farmer to do with them?
According to Tozie’s article today – many male calves are born and slaughtered immediately for use in processed food. Many are sent to townships and not always taken care of adequately as there is a lack of education about how to handle them.
Tozie is trying to enlist support for a program that is being offered by the Milk Producers Organisation (MPO). In terms of this programme, an MPO instructor visits the farm and gives free instruction on calf-rearing to the labourers on the farm. This is because so many labourers receive the unwanted boy calves of the dairy industry, take them back to their townships, but do not have the knowledge to raise them successfully.
This is one solution. Let’s help them make this happen.
My point here is that, if we really want to participate in the Jozi Real Food Revolution – we need to become an active participant in the production of our food. We need to help farmers with the real dilemmas of farming and be prepared to engage with the information we find in the new transparent context in a more meaningful way.
I don’t think it works to outsource all the problems of food production to farmers and to factories and to retailers and to only participate at the tills and then to yell ‘foul’ when the very real pressures of producing efficient, cheap food becomes apparent.
We all need to participate in engaging with the content, engaging with our local farmers, and changing from within in order to eat and think differently.
Ignorance has been bliss and it’s been hell but it’s time to acknowledge that we wanted to be ignorant because if we truly want a transparent food system, we take on a lot more responsibility.
Like, perhaps needing to sit and worry together about male calves in the dairy industry and to have to sit and help our local farmer with her dilemma.
What can be done about male calves? How would you like to see them handled and who picks up the tab?
Would you be prepared to pay a lot more for dairy so that the grazing for male bulls is paid for?
It’s not that easy huh?
To have to think about these things but this is the way forward.
We can become more empowered as consumers, we are and the Jozi Real Food Revolution is about receiving an invitation to engage more meaningfully with how we eat in this crazy, wonderful city of ours.
I promise you that I will bring you more and more opportunity to engage with the producers of your food.
Are you prepared to move out of passivity and into a more empowered space?
It will require that you behave differently as a consumer.
So Mandy and Mooberry Farms is a local, conscious, humane farm who is happy to invite you to resolve this issue with her.
It means we have to cultivate some new skills as consumers; we have to engage with our local farmers and form a community around food in this way.
One of these skills is to become solution driven and see ourselves as part of it all. Not passively pushing trolleys around a supermarket but then getting agro when the very real problems of farming are brought to your attention.
It’s not an easy journey, but it can be one of the most rewarding of your lives.
If you don’t eat veal because you don’t like the idea of eating a male calf that hasn’t had a great start, but you eat processed meats, it may be counter-productive because according to Tozie’s article, the meat of male bulls may be included in pet food, burgers and processed meat.
It’s time to engage the real issues. If you’re reading this, you’re one of those consumers involved in the Jozi Real Food Revolution.
Thank You!
Please forward any comments or ideas to me and I’ll send them onto Mandy.
Maybe we could put together a small working group to come up with solutions and to engage the problem in more depth.
Inbox me if you’re keen. Otherwise support Tozie in his efforts to get support for an education program to get male bulls sent into the townships handled more efficiently.
There has to be solutions here. We have a large unemployment problem, we have large social problems in this country and an absurd gap between the wealthy and the poor, somehow we must be able to do something that provides a solution that benefits the bulls as much as it does society?
Think about it?
Here is Tozie’s mail…
Dear Animal Friend,
 Add new-born dairy calf to the possible list of ingredients that may be included, along with donkey, kangaroo and water buffalo, in South African burgers and sausages. New-born calf meat is slimy and not suitable for much, except mince meat.  This new ‘ingredient’ has come to light as a result of  Compassion’s calf expose recently.  
Last week we told you how a new-born calf had collapsed on the side of the road in Riversdale, Western Cape. He was born in a field and was being taken, with his mother, to the milk parlour on the farm, some two or more kilometres away. He collapsed and was allegedly kicked in order to make him get up. 
Compassion’s Tozie and Louise subsequently visited the farmer concerned, with a view to enlisting his support for a programme that is being offered by the Milk Producers Organisation (MPO). In terms of this programme, an MPO instructor visits the farm and gives free instruction on calf-rearing to the labourers on the farm. This is because so many labourers receive the unwanted boy calves of the dairy industry, take them back to their townships, but do not have the knowledge to raise them successfully. See our video clip about the plight of these little calves here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iqwoc1N_k0&feature=em-share_video_user  Compassion has played a catalyst role in the introduction of these courses by the MPO.    
During our visit to Riversdale, the farmer concerned, Mr Thys Benson admitted that his labourer might have ‘smacked’ the calf but disputed that the calf had been injured in any way. We assured him that, in accordance with our telephone conversation the day before, we were not animal welfare inspectors and merely hoped to enlist his labourers in the MPO’s kindness-to-calves programme. However, Mr Benson declined. He explained that the boy calves born to his Jersey cows were slaughtered routinely at the local abattoir soon after birth.
 He said this was standard practice in the South African dairy industry because Jersey calves were delicate and difficult to raise once separated from their mothers.  Because the boy calves would not grow up to produce milk, and grew too slowly to be viable for the feedlot industry, they were slaughtered soon after birth for mince meat, pet food and such like.
While boy calves born to Friesland cows, for example, are sturdy enough to be raised for meat, 30% of dairy cows in South Africa are Jerseys. This means that around 180 000 Jersey cows, producing 1 billion litres of milk annually, give birth to some 180 000 calves each year, half of whom are boys. That’s 90 000 new-born boy calves – born for almost immediate slaughter.
 Commented Compassion’s Tozie Zokufa: “The whole concept of animals being regarded as “surplus” to a farming industry, is a product of factory farming. Male calves are surplus to dairy farming, just as male chicks are surplus to the egg-laying industry. To kill around 90 000 new-born male calves each year is as absurd and mind-boggling as to kill 13 million male chicks born into the egg industry annually.  It goes to the heart of factory farming and demonstrates its wastefulness, its callousness, its need for secrecy. The urgency of a transition to small-scale, community driven, transparent and sustainable farming, cannot be over-emphasized.  We as consumers need to demand this.”  
 “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
 Kind regards,
 
Tozie & Louise
www.animal-voice.org
021 852 8160
 
 
 
 

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