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Kristof in NY Times on “Abusing Chickens We Eat”

December 5, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has so often highlighted the plight of animals abused in the US food system, does so again today, Thursday, December 04, with a column titled, “Abusing Chickens We Eat.” (Page A31.)

Kristof discusses a misleading promotional video by Perdue in which the company’s chairman claims that Perdue chickens are humanely raised, and shares a video produced by Compassion in World Farming (a UK based group that has recently expanded into the US http://CIWF.org )taken at a Perdue farm. The video is linked directly from the web version of his column, and is described in the print version:

“It’s a hellish sight…. Most shocking is that the bellies of nearly all the chickens have lost their feathers and are raw, angry, red flesh. The entire underside of almost every chicken is a huge, continuous bedsore.”

Of the industry in general Kristof writes, “Torture a single chicken and you risk arrest. Abuse hundreds of thousands of chickens for their entire lives? That’s agribusiness.” Having already used the word torture, he later describes what is routinely done to chickens as “animal abuse.”

Kristof notes that the government, failing to act on Perdue’s false claims, is responsible for misleading the people. Then, reiterating a stance that has angered some animal rights activists in the past, Kristof writes, “All this leaves millions of Americans, me included, in a bind. We eat meat, yet we want to minimize cruelty to animals. This is an uncertain, inconsistent and perhaps hypocritical path, and it’s hard enough without giant food companies manipulating us — in collusion with our own government.”

Because my own interest in veganism and animal rights was first piqued not by an activist urging me to go vegan, but by a flyer protesting the keeping of sows in gestation crates (including photos I could hardly believe) I do not worry about what Kristof does personally, or that he doesn’t explicitly push veganism, and am just thankful for the consistent spotlight he shines on farm animal cruelty. I am sure his work spurs change, both in the industry, as part of the societal push to alleviate the most egregious farm animal cruelties, and in the eating habits of many of his readers, many of whom are likely to choose the veggie burger instead of the chicken sandwich at lunch after reading one of his articles, even if he hasn’t instructed them to do so. I have no doubt that his influence is profoundly positive. Kristof’s work gets people ready to hear the “Go Vegan” message.

You’ll find this latest column, including the Compassion in World Farming video, on line at

You can comment right below the piece (you may wish to warmly encourage Kristof to abandon his self-professed hypocrisy, as others have) or send a letter to the editor at letters@nytimes.com, or share the piece on email, Facebook or Twitter, directly from the New York Times web page. Please take at least one of those actions — do something to let Kristof and the New York Times know that this kind of coverage matters to readers.

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