In an age when food companies seem to be listening to consumers' demands for a more humane food supply, it's always good to know that there are a few dinosaurs holding everyone back.
In this case, the dinosaur is Domino's Pizza. Just weeks after the three largest fast-food chains in America—McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's—announced that they'd be phasing out the use of gestation crates for pigs, Domino's shareholders this week rejected a resolution proposed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that would have pushed the company towards sourcing gestation-crate-free pork. Shareholders decided that the HSUS should be pressuring the supplier, not the company, to get rid of the inhumane crates, says Kristie Middleton, outreach manager for the HSUS, who has been trying to work with Domino's to change the company's gestation crate policies.
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"It is a real shame that so many of world's largest food companies are making progress on this issue but Domino's is actively opposing making progress," she says.
Gestation crates are small, tight cages that sows live in for the entire four months of their pregnancies. The crates are so small the animals can't even turn around. After the sows give birth, they're moved to something called a farrowing crate, where they're allowed to nurse their piglets. Once the piglets have been weaned, the sows are impregnated again and returned to the gestation crates. This process is repeated for a sow's entire breeding life, usually about four years, after which the sow is slaughtered.
"That's the sort of abuse that most Americans see and don't want to support," Middleton says. Americans are so opposed to this form of treatment that voters in eight states, including Domino's home state of Michigan, have passed laws banning the use of gestation crates. Denny's restaurants also recently announced the company would phase out pork from suppliers who use them, as did Safeway, the country's second-largest grocery store chain. Beyond consumer pressure, Humane Society officials cite a 2007 study from Iowa State University finding that getting rid of gestation crates can result in an 11 percent cost savings for pork producers.
Don't let a single company keep you from enjoying one of this country's greatest comfort foods. The first step you can take is signing the Change.org petition asking Domino's to phase out cruel animal treatment. Until they change, buy "Animal Welfare Approved" pork products at the grocery store to top your own homemade pizzas. Need recipes? Check out the Rodale Recipe Finder.
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Or buy organic. Though gestation crates aren't banned in certified-organic pork production, their use is pretty rare, according to reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published on animal-welfare standards. Our favorite organic pizzas are from Annie's. Not only are they a rare certified-organic pizza alternative, but they're cheaper than delivery, as well—and there's no delivery guy to tip!
Published on: May 25, 2012
Updated on: June 1, 2012