CNF, look before you vote

Jeannie Trizzino, co-founder of the local vegetarian and vegan group, has been a member of Chico Natural Foods since moving here in 1992 and an ethical vegan since 1987.

As Chico Natural Foods members consider the ethical and economic question of whether the store should change its longstanding policy of not selling meat, a local vegan group,, has arranged for CNF members and staff to take a tour to meet the residents of Orland’s Farm Sanctuary—cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and others rescued from slaughter.

These are creatures that many of us only meet in plastic-wrapped packages. In fact they are real beings as smart and companionable as your pet dog or cat, but far more vulnerable.

Federal and state laws that cover cruelty to animals specifically exempt animals in agriculture. Additionally, consumers should be aware that the selling terms “free-range,” “natural” and “humanely raised” are marketing terms; they are not legally defined. On-site investigations of “free-range” poultry operations have shown that these chickens are only marginally better treated, if at all, than chickens in more intensive factory farms. More clearly: All farmed animals are specifically exempted from the animal welfare laws that protect your pet dog and cat.

Vegetarianism isn’t only about eating plants, and it’s not about choosing animals over humans—it’s about considering all the impacts of our food and lifestyle choices, one plate, one person, one world at a time. It’s about changing our lifestyles so that we tread more softly and minimize our impact on a weary planet.

It’s a real shame when a co-op that originated in the spirit of environmentalism, healthy living, community and membership forgets its roots and winds up emulating every other market instead of celebrating its strengths.

Missing from all the planned discussions are the voices of those thousands of animals who will wind up on the dinner plates of a few CNF customers if its 30-year policy of not carrying meat is changed. In a world filled with violence, the CNF meat-policy vote should be seen as a call for mercy and respect—for the planet, for farmed animals, for each of us as humans. It is a choice to eat meat, not a necessity.

Even omnivores can respect that there ought to be places in our town where suffering is not for sale. To fail to communicate pride in the ethical choices that we make is to concede the high ground to ignorance and conformity.

I invite CNF members and the general public to set aside some time to visit Orland’s Farm Sanctuary during one of the upcoming free member tours and look into the eyes of the residents there. Three tours are scheduled in the next two months: Saturday (Aug. 12), Aug. 26 and Sept. 23. Details are available at CNF.