Friday, March 28, 2008

Remembering Cesar Chavez

Senator Robert F. Kennedy called Cesar Chavez “one of the heroic figures of our time."

President Bill Clinton awarded Cesar Chavez the Medal of Freedom posthumously for having "faced formidable, often violent opposition with dignity and nonviolence. And he was victorious. Cesar Chavez left our world better than he found it, and his legacy inspires us still. He was for his own people a Moses figure." Cesar was also awarded Mexico’s highest civilian award, the Aquila Azteca, as a testimony to his lifelong contributions to humanity.

The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative First Class Cesar Chavez postage stamp in 2003, upon the 10th anniversary of his death in 1993.

In California, Cesar Chavez is the first Latino to be honored with a statewide holiday. March 30 is a holiday for state workers and an optional holiday for public schools.

As we remember the man, Cesar Chavez, it is just as important that we remember the values he embodied.

During his acceptance speech of In Defense of Animal's (IDA) Lifetime Achievement Award, Chávez said, "We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves…We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them—exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food."

On another occassion, Cesar Chavez taught us that "kindness and compassion toward all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bull fighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent toward all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Humane Farm Animal Care Coming to California

Today, the LA Board of Animal Services Commissioners, at the recommendation of the Department, voted unanimously to endorse the work of the Humane Farm Animal Care organization in their on-going consumer certification program for food products. They also voted to forward the measure to the LA City Council and the Mayor’s Office to make the City’s support for this initiative official.

The Certified Humane Raised & Handled Label is a consumer certification and labeling program that indicates to food purchasers that an egg, dairy, meat, or poultry product has been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind.

Food products that carry the label are certified to have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment. These Animal Care Standards have been developed by a team of veterinarians and animal scientists to ensure that producers and processors keep animals in conditions that have met high standards of animal care:

  • Allowing animals to engage in their natural behaviors
  • Raising animals with sufficient space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress
  • Making sure they have ample fresh water and a healthy diet without added antibiotics or hormones

Under the system, growth hormones are prohibited, and animals are raised on a regular diet of quality feed free of antibiotics. Producers also must comply with local, state and federal environmental standards. Processors must comply with the American Meat Institute Standards, a higher standard for slaughtering farm animals than the Federal Humane Slaughter Act.

Humane Farm Animal Care is the independent non-profit organization that conducts regular inspections and administers the “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” program. Participating businesses must pass an initial inspection as well as annual re-inspection to remain part of the Certified Humane Raised & Handled program. Applications, inspections, and certification require payment of modest fees. Producers who are certified may use the Certified Humane Raised & Handled logo on their packaging.

Inspectors have training and education in Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, or other relevant backgrounds. To further assure fairness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Services verifies the inspection process.

The Staff, Board of Directors and Scientific Committee of Humane Farm Animal Care bring extensive experience in the natural foods industry, animal science, veterinary care and animal welfare to their work on the Certified Humane Raised & Handled program. The current executive director, Adele Douglass, initiated the concept of humane certification for farm animal products in the U.S., beginning with her launch of the Free Farmed program for Farm Animal Services. As a result of her years showing businesses how humane farm animal care can meet bottom-line interests, she serves as an invited participant on numerous industry animal welfare committees including for the Food Marketing Institute, National Council of Chain Restaurants, and Burger King.

The industrialization and consolidation of animal agriculture in the United States and around the world has created farms of massive scale, unnatural animal husbandry practices and severe impacts including food safety problems, environmental degradation, loss of family farms and animal mistreatment. The quality of the meat, poultry, egg and dairy products depends, at least in part, on the quality of care farm animals receive. The Certified Humane Raised & Handled program lets consumers choose products from businesses that are providing humane conditions for the animals in their care.

Support for an initiative such as Certified Humane Raised and Handled is a natural fit for the City of Los Angeles and LA Animal Services which seeks to increase humane behavior across the spectrum of human activity, not just in the saving of dogs, cats, and rabbits.

For more information on this important initiative, visit:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2007 Easter Message by the Slovenian President Dr. Janez Drnovšek:

“The Easter Holidays are near. Let’s spend them in peace and good company. You can also renounce the ham, chocolate-eggs should be sufficient for an Easter atmosphere.

Would it not be more harmonious if we did not associate religious celebrations directly with ham and other non-spiritual symbols? Do really so many animals have to die when we celebrate higher consciousness and try to develop spiritually? The answer is clear: of course not.

Feasts don’t have much to do with spirituality, just the opposite. Even considering that we can try to understand that in some eras, in which food was scarce, religious events were celebrated with banquets, we can now leave such material remnants behind us. True spirituality does not need them, just the opposite, because they show us that religions demanding such identifications got stuck at a relatively low level of consciousness.

That’s why we’ll try to celebrate the occasion differently this time. We use the opportunity for a walk in nature, for a cleansing of the spirit, for the search for internal peace. We are friendly to our family, our neighbours and all those suffering in this world. Also to animals. We spare them this time from our lust for meat and we try to overcome historical behavior patterns.

We will do something good for our spirit and our body."