Want More Expensive Meat? Check Your Privilege

 

I’m not sure how I got to be on the mailing list for Change.org, but the lefty petition site sometimes sends me petitions they’ve decided to highlight on their site. This afternoon, I received an email with the subject line “Aldi.” As a loyal Aldi shopper, I clicked, wondering why the site had decided to aim its firepower at the low-cost grocery store.

This is the kind of issue only rich people have the luxury of caring about.

Those behind the petition would like Aldi to join other stores who have all stopped using suppliers that utilize these crates, stores like Trader Joe’s, Costco, Kroger, and Walmart. Do you know what these stores all have in common? They are more expensive (though Walmart, not by much) than Aldi. Aldi bills itself on providing high-quality food for the lowest cost possible. Their business model is entirely predicated on that latter point; while other stores like Trader Joe’s and Costco offer a fun shopping experience with rotating seasonal items and hold a cult following, Aldi supplies the basics families need to feed themselves on the lowest margins possible.

It’s fine to care about animal rights, and indeed, these gestational crates don’t exactly sound like a pleasant way to live. If those behind the Change petition were working towards educating Aldi’s customers about the practice, or using their platform to inform Aldi about why they buy their pork elsewhere; fine. But that’s not what they’re doing. They are using social media to bully the grocer into changing pork suppliers, which would pass the increased cost of the meat onto consumers already living on the margins. There are plenty of people who are willing and able to pay an extra few dimes per pound for more ethically sourced meat. But there are plenty more, and most of them are Aldi shoppers, who don’t have that ability. If you can afford more sustainable, ethical meat sources, shop your values. But if you need to feed your family protein every night for under $10 a meal, you don’t have that luxury. The former group doesn’t understand that that’s exactly what it is: a luxury. For a group of folks who constantly lecture us to “check your privilege,” it’s time they do the same.

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There are 22 comments.

  1. KentForrester Coolidge

    Bethany, I’m surprised that you wouldn’t be eager to sign the petition. We should do everything we can, I think, to make the lives of animals as pleasant as possible before we slaughter them. 

    I once saw a video of a pig being dragged across a bloody slaughterhouse floor by his leg, as if it were a block of wood. The pig was squealing all the while like a baby. I’ve never forgotten that image.

    Factory farms, filthy and crowded beyond belief sometimes, are cruel and deserve to be closed down. Sows often spend their lives in crates so small they can barely turn around. And piglets sometimes spend their early lives in conditions so crowded that grown men would cry if they weren’t inured to animal cruelty. 

     

    • #1
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    My wife and I regularly buy from Aldi. I’m delighted that they’re more concerned about their customers than they are about the animal-rights activists.

    • #2
    • July 9, 2019, at 1:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. KentForrester Coolidge

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    My wife and I regularly buy from Aldi. I’m delighted that they’re more concerned about their customers than they are about the animal-rights activists.

    Phil, wouldn’t you be willing to pay a little more for your meat if it meant the slaughtered animals suffered less during their lives?

    • #3
    • July 9, 2019, at 1:47 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Brent Chambers Member

    I agree with Bethany. Animal meat contains the full spectrum of essential amino acids. Factory farmed animals are the least expensive path to provide full spectrum protein to people. As consumers with more disposable income choose more free range meat products, the supply will increase to meet that increased demand. (no pun intended) As the scale of production increases costs can be improved by competitive suppliers. There can be a low disruptive path to better animal husbandry. Pulling this into the ongoing civil conflict should be avoided.

    I love the taste of free range beef. I am willing and able to pay more for it. I just don’t want to force this decision onto someone on the economic edge. Cheap, highly processed food is already compromising our health, let’s keep as many options open as possible.

    BTW, Free range ruminants are great for top soil preservation and growth. Arid lands can be recovered and herds can be vastly increased over time. AND top soil growth is a fantastic carbon trap. Instead of ruminants begin the villains of green house gases, they may be the key to environmental recovery.

    • #4
    • July 9, 2019, at 1:54 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    My wife and I regularly buy from Aldi. I’m delighted that they’re more concerned about their customers than they are about the animal-rights activists.

    Phil, wouldn’t you be willing to pay a little more for your meat if it meant the slaughtered animals suffered less during their lives?

    No. When the third world unanimously adopts and enforces such extreme rules, I’ll consider supporting them here in the U.S. Otherwise it is simply a prescription for the economic destruction of local producers. Keep in mind that the U.S. does have animal cruelty laws that are already more strict than the third world. They just aren’t strict enough for the everyone-must-be-forced-to-be-vegetarian radicals.

    In the meantime, I refuse to apologize for my entirely natural carnivorous tastes, and will reward the suppliers that keep it economic for me to satisfy them.

    • #5
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:33 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. thelonious Member

    I’m conflicted over this. As a meat consumer and advocate, I believe one of our major health issues especially among the poor is lack of protein and the consumption of too many carbs and sugars. Imho our collective health would improve tremendously if people added more meat to their diets. I even support a meat subsidy for people on food stamps. Otoh.. It still feels a bit savage to not have better regulations on the conditions of animals raised for slaughter. I have no answers.

    • #6
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Caryn Member

    This is where I get my meat. Fortunately we are able to put ethical and religious considerations into our purchase. But we certainly and consequently eat it very infrequently. Still…nothing like a juicy, grilled, rare ribeye, even for $65/lb. That and a really good bottle of red. Yum. But it’s a treat, not a norm.

    I am a knowledgeable and (I’m told) good and creative cook and have a repertoire of well balanced protein sources that do not include red meat. I can, and do, produce meals at reasonable prices. I also recognize that many low-income people do not have the experience–either of taste or cooking–of such alternatives (though the beans and rice combo comes right out of “peasant” food and appears in some delicious form in nearly every culture that has the ability to grow them). I will not presume to demand my tastes–either in food or its preparation–be forced upon other people, particularly if it passes along costs they are unable to afford. What happened to the party of “choice,” or is that only in human baby killing?

    All that to say: With you, Bethany!

    PS: If anyone decides to explore Grow and Behold, please let me know so I can “refer” you and get a well-needed $25 gift certificate for the favor. That’s not why I mention them, but the pop-up offer came and I figured, What the heck… And I do recommend them unreservedly.

    • #7
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I once saw a video of a pig being dragged across a bloody slaughterhouse floor by his leg, as if it were a block of wood. The pig was squealing all the while like a baby. I’ve never forgotten that image.

    I don’t disagree that meat animals should be raised and slaughtered humanely. However . . .

    There are laws on the books governing the treatment of farm animals. If they can be strengthened, great.

    However, the use of disturbing footage and pictures (no doubt taken from the meat suppliers who are not ethical and don’t follow the law) are used to disparage the entire industry, and bully businesses into complying with their demands. That I cannot tolerate.

    Animal rights activists use valid concerns to justify their invalid terrorist tactics, such as “freeing” minks into the wild, where they are inhumanely slaughtered by predators.

    As for dragging a piglet by its leg, would it be better if the dude cradled the animal like an infant? I can understand your reaction. Too bad liberals don’t hate Islamic terrorism when they see heads sliced off or people burned alive . . .

     

    • #8
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. KentForrester Coolidge

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty. 

    • #9
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. She Thatcher
    She

    I try to buy local, and failing that, to buy from Americans, and American companies, whenever I can. That eliminates Aldi right out of the gate.

    I buy fresh eggs (quite cheaply) from my neighbors, and buy meat from local producers (something that’s getting easier and cheaper, every day, it seems). Most of my friends who live in the city participate in some community supported agriculture program, and Pittsburgh has plenty of reasonably-priced, locally sourced meat and produce shops.

    Aldi, and its practices, doesn’t really fit either my lifestyle, or my philosophy, I’ve found. At least, based on my local store and its system of turnstiles, and the hoops I have to jump through just to liberate a shopping cart, by the time I leave, I don’t feel much more pampered or free than the sows and hogs you describe.

    Interestingly, there are close, and not all that clearly acknowledged, ties in brotherly ownership between Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. I don’t really care for either of them.

    Those who prefer to buy there are, of course, free to do so. It’s just not for me.

    On the matter of pigs and pork, I’m a bit fussy. You see, I know what battery raised pork, skin and meat, looks like, before it’s killed. (Same with chickens). And, even absent the (to me) very valid concerns about the treatment of the live animals, that concerns me even more than what it looks like after it’s dead and has been cleaned up, deodorized, and sanitized. Ugh.

    Sorry, no deal.

    • #10
    • July 9, 2019, at 4:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Front Seat Cat Member

    This is nutty – but if it’s true, I’m siding with the mother pigs – sometimes Chipolte Grill is out of carnitas and there is a sign that their supplier is out, and they are trying to source another humane supplier in the interim – really folks, for those that eat pork….it’s gone up like everything else – if you can’t find something cheap enough at Walmart, maybe skip that food for awhile…..

    • #11
    • July 9, 2019, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. GeezerBob Coolidge

    What is not considered here is that, should these producers be either forced out of business or made to change their practices, with all the attendant consequences, it will still not satisfy. If this step is taken, they will be back with yet another, and another until…

    BTW, the cart rental system is standard practice in most of Europe. Yet another opportunity to be more like…

    • #12
    • July 9, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty.

    I’m not saying that I am not willing to pay more; I am saying others shouldn’t forced to pay more because I am uncomfortable with these practices. 

    • #13
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    And in most of Europe, where the majority of people live in dense cities, they live close enough to a food store to shop there every day, so might not need a cart every time. This is the USA, where some people have to go long distances to shop, and supermarket shopping carts are always free (and often appropriated by the homeless to store their stuff, which is theft).

    Farm animals exist to feed humans, and we should not worry overmuch about their treatment before they become our food. Really badly-treated animals might not make it to the supermarket anyway.

    • #14
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. KentForrester Coolidge

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty.

    I’m not saying that I am not willing to pay more; I am saying others shouldn’t forced to pay more because I am uncomfortable with these practices.

    Bethany, no one is forced to pay more. If you don’t care how animals are treated, you can shop at stores that purchase their meat from places that use factory farming and other efficient though inhumane (crowded and caged) environments.

    • #15
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Brent Chambers Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty.

    It is not animal suffering vs “a bit more for your meat.” It is a matter of not excluding options to the people at lower economic levels. We might turn this around and say, you would rather see humans suffer poor health than tolerate any animal suffering. 

     

    • #16
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Mike H Coolidge

    It’s possible that it’s immoral to eat factory farmed meat. It may even be immoral to eat more humanely grown meat and we should all become vegans until meat is grown in a vat. But I think it’s also possible that we improperly read human level suffering into what’s expressed by animals. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a good way to know how “conscience” their experiences are.

    Ethical Vegetarianism

    Industrial Farming is Not Cruel to Animals

    Do animals have rights?

    In defence of factory farming

    • #17
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. KentForrester Coolidge

    Brent Chambers (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty.

    It is not animal suffering vs “a bit more for your meat.” It is a matter of not excluding options to the people at lower economic levels. We might turn this around and say, you would rather see humans suffer poor health than tolerate any animal suffering.

     

    Brent, poor people still have plenty of cheaper options, like shopping at Wal-Mart or one of the numerous discount grocery stores. 

    • #18
    • July 9, 2019, at 7:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Mike H Coolidge

    One thing we should all agree on is that the Federal Government shouldn’t be massively subsidizing farming. Much of it which lowers the price of animal feed.

    This could naturally reduce the incentives to for high intensity meat farming and reduce the amount of factory farming. Then people could experience the actual cost of the food choices they make.

    The Elephant-Sized Subsidy in the Race

    • #19
    • July 9, 2019, at 7:28 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Cato Rand Reagan

    I’m with the change.org folks on this one. The biggest nutrition problem most of the low income Aldi shoppers you’re worried about have is obesity. We have such an otherworldly overabundance of food in this country that I just can’t get behind raising animals inhumanely. Put simply, I don’t buy the claim that it will price much of anyone out of much of anything.

    • #20
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:43 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Stad Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I like the way you guys are up front about this matter. You’d rather see animals suffer than pay a bit more for your meat.

    I don’t agree with your position, but I do admire your honesty.

    I’m not saying that I am not willing to pay more; I am saying others shouldn’t forced to pay more because I am uncomfortable with these practices.

    I’d pay more, but I too am against bullying.

    However, there are laws already on the books governing meat production. Is the answer to hire more inspectors and conduct more unannounced compliance visits?

    • #21
    • July 10, 2019, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Henry Castaigne Member

    Bethany Mandel: It’s fine to care about animal rights, and indeed, these gestational crates don’t exactly sound like a pleasant way to live.

    That’s actually about animal welfare and not about animal rights. Animal rights is crazy PETA and or vegetarian nonsense and animal welfare is about treating animals well until they are slaughtered. National Review for example, has an unusual amount of people interested in animal welfare but none into animal rights. 

    • #22
    • July 10, 2019, at 2:19 PM PDT
    • 4 likes