Posted on Apr. 1,2007
Idaho Mountain Express

Junk Food with a Conscience

Since corporate America discovered profits in mass production of food, a new and often unpleasant acronym has entered the language: CAFO, for Confined Animal Feeding Operation.

It's just as it sounds-animals and fowl packed into insufferably inhumane confinement until they're slaughtered, often with equally inhumane methods.

Now, in an unprecedented corporate decision that could return conscience and compassion to food production, the fast-food giant Burger King has laid down new requirements for food suppliers. It will gradually rely on eggs and pork whose suppliers don't confine chickens and pigs in cages and crates.

This is no small gesture. Burger King purchases 40 million pounds of eggs and 35 million pounds of pork per year for its U.S. and Canada fast-food operations. The initial purchases will be relatively small until more suppliers convert to more humane farming techniques.

In time, other restaurant chains will be forced to deal with food producers and consumers converting to the emerging trend of humane production methods.

This is a triumph of persistence for animal rights groups as well as a few corporate decision-makers with a conscience.

The squalid, revolting conditions used by CAFO farmers to fatten meat animals in cages and the tiers of cages housing egg-laying chickens barely able to move and whose beaks have been clipped are sights that might turn meat lovers into vegetarians-if they could see them.

The idyllic days of family farming may be just a memory. However, modern food producers surely can sense the public's desire for civilized practices.

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