Sunday, June 19, 2016

Eating Vegan Workshop - August 2nd!

Get excited for our upcoming, 3rd annual "Eating Vegan" workshop. Are you curious about a vegan diet? Wonder what the difference is between seitan and tempeh? If you have been thinking about going vegan or just thinking about working more fruits and vegetables into your diet, we're here to help!

This workshop will cover what "vegan" means, typical concerns about eating a plant-based diet, and specific plant-based food items that can be purchased at the coop.

WHERE: Park Slope Food Coop General Meeting Room (2nd Floor)
WHEN: Tuesday 8/2, 7:30PM

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Guides from the Coop’s Animal Welfare Committee Offer More Information than Product Packaging and Labels Do

By Piper Hoffman
Do you want to know whether the meat, dairy, or eggs you are buying came from animals who were treated humanely? You won’t find the answers on the packaging. Recent revelations about the conditions Perdue’s chickens suffer illustrate the problem: their “labels carry a seal of approval from the Department of Agriculture asserting that the bird was ‘raised cage free,’ and sometimes ‘humanely raised,’” Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times. (“Abusing Chickens We Eat,” December 3, 2014.) Those descriptions are misleading at best.
Coop members, however, can get reliable, detailed information that shoppers at conventional grocery stores don’t have. The Animal Welfare Committee publishes Guides for members about a number of product categories that detail the treatment of animals by the Coop’s vendors. With a Guide in hand it is easy to choose the most humane option the Coop offers and to avoid the others. The Buyers’ Guide to Coop Chicken is the latest example.
The Buyers’ Guide to Coop Chicken explains that the “cage free” label is no guarantee that birds had comfortable living quarters. Broiler chickens (i.e., chickens raised for meat, not to lay eggs) are kept on the floors of barns, but though they are not in cages, they are packed in tight: each one gets only two-thirds of a square foot, which is about the size of an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper.
Coop members who use the Animal Welfare Committee’s new Buyers’ Guide to Coop Chicken will know exactly how much space each bird sold at the Coop had to live in. The Guide also describes why that matters: “crowding can result in fighting, scratches, and sores from the birds being forced to walk over each other as they try to access food, and a multitude of problems and injuries.”
The Buyers’ Guide to Coop Chicken also compares the Coop’s chicken vendors on several other variables, including debeaking, toe-trimming, and method of slaughter.
Right now the following guides about the following product categories are available to Coop members:

Paper copies of each Guide are available near the relevant products. All the Guides are also online at the Animal Welfare Committee’s blog ( under the “AWC Guides” tab. The Committee is also on Facebook (Park Slope Food Coop Animal Welfare Committee) and Twitter (@psfcanimals).
This article appeared in the Feb 18th, 2016 edition of the Linewaiter's Gazette.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksgiving at the Coop - Your 2015 guide is here!

It's that time of year again! Thanksgiving is a little over a week away and turkeys are starting to appear in the Coop's meat case. Check out our 2015 Thanksgiving Guide to learn more about the welfare of the turkeys we have available this year - as well as plant-based Thanksgiving options!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Slaughterhouse Shortage

by Kama Einhorn, Animal Welfare Committee

You may have noticed a "certified humane" logo on some coop meats—but only a few. Why are there plenty of small, local family farmers raising animals well, but so few humane-certified items available in the coop—or in any store or restaurant? Here’s the four-part problem:

All farmers must use USDA-approved slaughterhouses.
Farmers cannot legally sell meat unless it’s been “harvested” at an approved “processing plant” (otherwise, they can only eat it themselves or give it away). Obviously, it’s crucial for a government agency to ensure that disease is kept out of the public food supply, but the USDA is a bloated bureaucracy whose rules favor factory farms (with fast “line speeds,” which is poor for humane slaughter) and help them to thrive. And factory farms are responsible for E. coli, Salmonella outbreaks and mad cow disease (the USDA lets factory farms feed dead, diseased cows to living cows).

Small farmers are limited to smaller slaughterhouses.
Big slaughterhouses don’t accept small jobs due to economies of scale. This means that small farmers must transport their animals to the closest legal processing plants that will accept their animals. Because USDA regulations focus on the health of consumers but have little to do with animal welfare, few of these plants will conform to the higher standards of “humane slaughter” that small farmers would like for their animals’ deaths. (USDA inspectors often overlook violations of the Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be rendered insensate to pain —which is accomplished by various methods of stunning—before slaughter.)

Humane certification requires humane slaughter (that is, as fast and painless as possible), which only some slaughterhouses do.
From an animal welfare standpoint, and for the “certified humane” accreditation, how animals die is as important as how they live. This means that farmers cannot get the certification unless they are lucky enough to have access to an good small slaughterhouse with transparent policies even if they did the “right thing” every day of the animals’ lives.

Sadly, these small slaughterhouses are becoming fewer and farther between.
The USDA’s regulatory framework favors the big players (such as those located on factory farms) and makes business quite difficult for a small operation. This means that many small plants are closing, due to the financial demands and complexities of operating in a system that is stacked against them.

There’s plenty of supply (animals) and plenty of demand (consumers), but between the

two is a giant hurdle made from government-issued concrete.

This article appeared in the Sept 3rd, 2015 edition of the Linewaiter's Gazette.

Have You Visited a Local(ish) Farm Animal Sanctuary This Summer?

by Deborah Diamant, Animal Welfare Committee

Are you looking for a unique day trip to flee the city with your friends or family in tow? The Animal Welfare Committee encourages you to visit one of the several farm animal sanctuaries located within a few hours of the Coop before the summer ends. Some are even reachable via mass transit!

Spending a day at a farm animal sanctuary is not just a humane alternative to visits to zoos and circuses--they enable us to interact with animals up close in an environment where they receive proper care. While stroking the radiant coat of a Holstein cow and standing among frolicking goats, we observe up close each animal’s unique personality. This simply is not possible through a cage in a zoo and from a seat in a circus.

The purpose of farm animal sanctuaries, though, is to provide a caring environment where animals mistreated as products in commercial farms can recover and live the remainder of their lives free of cages and substandard treatment. Jenny Brown, founder and executive director of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS) stresses that “farmed animals are easily reduced to mere statistics when talking about the 10 billion land animals slaughtered every year in the U.S., but to our visitors at the sanctuary they become tangible, self-aware individuals with names who behave very differently in an environment where they are treated with love and respect as opposed to as commodities.”

Ms. Brown has done such an effective job providing a home to rescued farm animals since she founded WFAS 10 years ago that her sanctuary is currently moving to a farm that is six times larger in High Falls, NY. Ms. Brown explains that WFAS “is a place where people connect with animals as individuals, and that helps people connect with themselves, with each other, and with the larger natural world.” WFAS holds special events throughout the year in addition to its regular tour schedule. On September 5, WFAS’s grand reopening event will feature sanctuary tours, food vendors, and live music.

Keep the below list of local(ish) farm animal sanctuaries handy. Perhaps you will find time to visit them all! The sanctuaries have been listed in order of proximity from the Coop, with the closest sanctuary listed first. (Be sure to double check that a sanctuary is offering tours the day you plan to visit.)

Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue (66 miles from PSFC)
50 Compton Road
Wantage NJ 07461
Tours given Saturday-Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

For the Animals Sanctuary (69 miles from PSFC)
8 Cherokee Trail
Blairstown, NJ
Open to visitors on “visiting days.” Check the website for schedule.

Barnyard Sanctuary (70 miles from the PSFC)
Columbia, NJ (exact location provided once tour is scheduled)
Reservations required! Call 973-670-4477 to schedule a tour.
Tours given Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary (83 miles from the PSFC)
542 Gardner Hollow Road
Poughquag, NY
Call 845-724-5138 to schedule a tour.

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (102 miles from the PSFC)
High Falls, NY
Currently closed to visitors because the sanctuary is moving from Woodstock to its new home in High Falls, NY. Mark your calendars: the grand reopening is September 5!

Catskill Animal Sanctuary (112 miles from PSFC)
316 Old Stage Road
Saugerties, NY
Tours given April through October: Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Spring Farm CARES (250 miles from the PSFC)
3364 State Route 12
Clinton, NY
Reservations required! Call 315-737-9339 to schedule a tour.
Tours given 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day of the year except on major holidays.

Farm Sanctuary (255 miles from PSFC)
3150 Aikens Rd
Watkins Glen, NY
Questions: 607-583-2225, ex. 221
June - August: Tours given 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. (No tours August 14-16); May, September, and October: Tours given 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday & Sunday only.

This article appeared in the August 20, 2015 edition of the Linewaiter's Gazette.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Member Squad Application - Deadline Extended to JULY 1!


Like what we do and want to get involved? Apply to join the Animal Welfare Committee! We're looking to add a few members to our very active committee. Below you can read an overview of what the Animal Welfare Committee's work entails and how to apply for the Animal Welfare Committee squad as your coop workshift.

All applications are due by July 1 and we are hoping to meet with candidates who are a good fit during our August 24 meeting (7:00-8:30 p.m.), if possible.

Please review the following points before applying. 
  • Please know our mission before applying.  The Animal Welfare Committee provides transparent animal welfare information about the co-op’s products.  Please take a look at the info sheets we produce.  This is a large part of what this committee's work is...and what the new members will be researching and creating as well!  Research involves calling PSFC vendors (farmers) and asking them questions about the welfare of the animals they raise.  Research can also include using external sources to provide transparent information about broader issues (e.g., animal testing information).  
  • You must be able to attend Monday C week squad meetings from 7:00-8:30 p.m. without missing more than two to three in a calendar year.
  • Squad work is flexible based on current projects.  There is the opportunity to log additional coop workshifts either to share with your coop household members or to bank and use in future months when you might have less time for extra projects.  All squad members are required to log the 2.75 hours required to be a coop member per cycle.
  • Areas we cover:  
Animal testing as it relates to personal care and household products

Farmed animal welfare (currently laying hens, cow and goat dairy, turkeys during Thanksgiving season and in the future chicken, pigs, cow/beef, etc.)
  • We are currently seeking two new members and have identified a need for the following skills.  The application will give you space to explain any experience you have in these areas or other relevant experience that would benefit the committee:
- Design (graphic design or layout for info sheets)
- Publicity (social media, print media, tabling - spreading news of squad's work)
- Branding (to make our deliverables easily identifiable)
- Journalism (ability to get transparent info and communicate it in a succinct way)
  • Apply online!  All applications will be done online.  Our committee communicates largely via email and Google Drive when not meeting so a comfort level (or a willingness to get comfortable with!) both would be great!   
Please include any relevant experience in the areas of skill sets we’re looking for
Please include any experience you believe is relevant to the squad’s work
AWC will post the due date of the applications and when we’ll be calling people in for interviews
Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!  If you have any questions, please don't hestiate to email us at

Deborah, on behalf of the Animal Welfare Committee