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

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Possible Reprieve for the Male Chicks of the Egg Industry

A little known fact about the egg industry is the number of male chicks who are killed in the process of producing eggs.  How does that happen?   Almost all hens in commercial operations are purchased from hatcheries that dispose of male chicks shortly after hatching since they only need the birds who will lay eggs – the females. The hatcheries need to wait for the eggs to hatch to “sex” the birds and identify males and females.  Females get sent to egg industry vendors and males get destroyed.  Methods of disposal include suffocation, gassing and grinding alive. These male chicks are not used as “meat” birds because their bodies are not as profitable as conventional broiler chickens (birds bred for and used as “meat” birds) and therefore have very little use and value to the agricultural industry.  The killing of male chicks is an unfortunate side effect of egg production.

You may notice that there is a column on our Egg Guide that asks vendors “Fate of Male Chicks?” with all of the answers being either “killed at hatchery” or not given. We’ve noted that even if the answer is “not given”, standard process is the culling and killing of male chicks at the hatchery.  We don’t currently have even a single vendor who can claim to successfully avoid this situation.

Unilever recently announced that they plan to provide financial support towards research of “in-ovo gender identification” technology.  This would allow the sexing of the birds within the eggs to happen before the eggs hatch, with the disposal of male eggs before hatching. Unilever committed financial support to the market introduction of such a method, once it’s successfully created.  If this technology comes to the market, we might very well have an egg industry that can avoid the culling and killing of male baby chicks.  

Interestingly, in the same communication about Unilever’s animal welfare policy, they commit to exploring ways to meet egg ingredient demands by using plant-based solutions.  Meanwhile Unilever recently attempted to sue Hampton Creek, makers of plant-based and vegan Just Mayo (carried at the co-op), for false advertising advertising and fraud, citing their use of the word “mayo” and depiction of an egg with a sprout in it on the front of their jar. They claimed Just Mayo damaged their market share by representing the product as something it’s not and Unilever asked Hampton Creek to pay them three times the amount of their profit and cover their legal fees in addition, to cease use of the egg image on their label, and to recall any products and promotional materials that might confuse the public. That lawsuit has since been dropped.




Monday, January 19, 2015

From the Linewaiter's Gazette: "The Five Freedoms for Animals—Plus One for Coop Members"

[From the December 25, 2014 edition of the Linewaiter's Gazette]

By Kama Einhorn, Animal Welfare Committee

The welfare of animals involved in food production has been a major concern for many since the beginning of our industrialized food system. Coop members are, of course, no exception. The Coop’s Animal Welfare Committee seeks to address these concerns by educating and providing facts to our fellow Coop members about what’s happening on the farms from which our animal products originate.

In the 1960s, as factory farming became increasingly standard practice in the UK, the British government commissioned an investigation into the welfare of “intensively farmed animals.” Soon after, they created the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which developed a set of guidelines now known in the animal welfare movement as the Five Freedoms:

Freedom from thirst and hunger: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.

Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from pain, injury, and disease: by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Freedom to express normal behavior: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

It seems quite simple and reasonable. The Five Freedoms describe the world that all animals (including humans) should live in—and you can even count them on one hand.

If Old MacDonald really did have a farm once, surely that’s how he would have organized things. And yet, 98% of the animals most Americans eat won’t see any of these freedoms. What’s happening in modern industrial farming is something Old MacDonald would never recognize.

While the Coop’s meat, dairy, and eggs generally come from animals more well-treated than most in intensive factory farming settings, the animal welfare practices of the Coop’s vendors vary significantly. So an important task of the Animal Welfare Committee is to leverage another precious and fragile freedom—the freedom of information.

Check out the Animal Welfare Committee’s blog at for buyers’ guides to eggs and milk (and soon, chicken and beef). Each comprehensively researched guide details the practices of each of our vendors.

And write to us with your thoughts at or visit our Facebook page (Park Slope Food Coop Animal Welfare Committee).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Updated Dairy Milk Guide! And what's coming next!

We have an updated Dairy Milk Guide up on our blog and in the folders outside the milk case (near the butter)!  You can find this guide and all current guides here on the blog at the AWC Guides tab located at the top of the blog.  (Current guides:  Eggs: Animal Testing on Products; Dairy Milk)

What's up our sleeve?
  •  We'll be finalizing a Chicken Guide soon!  Keep an eye on Twitter and the blog!
  • The seasonal Turkey/Seasonal Veggie Thanksgiving Options guide will also be happening this year - keep an eye out on Twitter and the blog!
  • We will offer another Eating Vegan Workshop in 2015 but we're waiting until the large Meeting Room is available for booking again (it's currently slated for construction) so stay tuned for the 2015 date!
Jesse, on behalf of the Animal Welfare Committee

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CANCELED: September 28th Vegan Eating Workshop!

We'll be rescheduling the workshop for early 2015! Stay tuned!

Are you interested in vegan eating?

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in vegan eating, with people like Bill Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres touting the benefits of their plant-based diets. Growing evidence shows that vegan diets have positive impacts on human health and are better for the planet.

Whether you want to commit to a vegan diet or start eating more plant foods, this workshop will help.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Coop Supplier D’Artagnan Represents Foie Gras Producer

Two Coop vendors recently went head-to-head in a lawsuit over the meaning of the word "humane." For members who want to know more about the meat they buy, here is the story.

In 2003 Coop members voted to stop buying foie gras, which consists of the diseased livers of ducks and geese who were force-fed through long, hard pipes to swell their livers eight or more times their normal size. Before 2003 we bout foie gras from vendor D'Artagnan, which sold foie gras made by Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG). The Coop still sells meat from chickens, pigs, lambs, rabbits, cows, turkeys, wild boars, and ducks from D’Artagnan

HVFG has been calling its foie gras humane, which stuck in the craw of another Coop provider, Regal Vegan, which makes Faux Gras. Regal Vegan made an unfair competition claim, arguing that by calling its product humane, Hudson Valley was stealing business from Regal Vegan’s Faux Gras -- which is free of animal products and so indisputably the more humane of the two.

HVFG eventually surrendered to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, agreeing to stop calling and labeling foie gras “humane.” Here’s how foie gras is made -- you be the judge of the accuracy of its original claim.

Producers start force-feeding ducks when they are two to three months old. Several times a day they pin each baby bird down and force a hard pipe ten inches into her esophagus. The pipe delivers way too much corn mash straight into the duck’s stomach. Every day they up the dosage, cramming more and more food into the bird. Between feedings, HVFG stuffs up to twelve birds into pens measuring four by six feet each, according to The Huffington Post. There is no water for the aquatic birds to swim or bathe in.

The force-feeding technique is hard on a duck’s body. It causes broken bones, aspiration pneumonia, infections, and a long list of other injuries.

The massive amount of nutritionally deficient food also causes problems. The producers’ goal is to induce a disease called fatty liver (which is what “foie gras” means in French), so by definition force-feeders are making the birds sick. Side effects of force-feeding include neurological damage, liver rupture, seizures, and bowel obstruction. The swollen livers compress other organs, leaving little room for the ducks to take in oxygen.

After four weeks of this, HVFG kills the surviving ducks – but 15,000 birds don’t live that long every year at HVFG alone.

D’Artagnan founder Ariane Daguin is one of foie gras’s fiercest defenders, according to Her company distributed “Save The Foie” buttons at the James Beard Awards in 2012. D’Artagnan has gotten into foie gras trouble on its own in the past: a few years ago the New Jersey Better Business Bureau had to force D’Artagnan to stop claiming that the foie gras it supplied came from “enlarged” rather than “diseased” livers.


Yet Daguin staunchly defends the product, on ethical, cultural and culinary grounds. Her website describes it as “produced from Moulard ducks raised in a low-stress environment on 200 acres in the lush valley formed by the Hudson River of New York State. Their wholegrain diet consists of corn and soy and fresh clean water; no hormones or antibiotics are ever used.”


The recent legal victory against Hudson Valley Foie Gras shows that, despite the appealing language on her website, in the ten years since the Coop voted to boycott foie gras, the product hasn’t gotten any less horrific for the fatty livers’ owners. Nevertheless, Daguin would love for the Coop to sell her foie gras.


“The Coop is one of my best customers,” she told the Linewaiters’ Gazette in 2010. “I was kind of upset that they never ordered my foie gras. I guess I should be grateful for what we have here.”

Piper, on behalf of the Animal Welfare Committee

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eating Vegan Workshop

The Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) conducted a workshop for co-op members about Vegan Eating on January 12th. We covered a number of subjects, including the AWC’s mission, reasons for eating vegan, the basics of vegan nutrition, and tips for shopping for vegan food at the co-op. We plan to offer the workshop again, so if you would like to attend please be on the lookout for an announcement.

Links to our handouts are attached here:

This four-pager addresses vegan sources of protein, calcium, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin D3. Disclaimer: we are not doctors or nutritionists. In this handout we share our understanding of our nutritional needs and list resources that offer more definitive and detailed information.

If you’re looking for ways to replace specific animal products in your diet, this is a good place to start. We list vegan analogs for dairy milk, eggs, butter, yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, a variety of cheeses and meats, stuffed pasta, and chocolate. Many products include a description of where to find them in the coop.

A list of products we use often, including several vegan breads and a number of sweeteners.

The ingredient lists on food products can be pretty impenetrable. This handout notes some ingredients to keep an eye out for that may not jump out as non-vegan, like L-Cystine and casein.

Each member of the AWC listed some of our favorite vegan foods to buy at the co-op. Delicacies include So Delicious Coconut Milk Cookie Dough Frozen Dessert, Artisan Tofurkey Chik’n and Apple Sausage, and Regal Vegan Faux Gras.

So you want to eat more vegan foods – but which ones? Here are seven pages of inspiration for every meal, complete with recipes.

Piper, on behalf of the Animal Welfare Committee