pattrice jones was born and raised in the U.S. port city of Baltimore. She lives in rural Maryland, where she teaches at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and helps to operate the Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center. pattrice serves on the editorial board of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies and is a founding faculty member at the Transformative Studies Institute. She is in the process of co-editing an anthology looking at linkages between speciesism and heterosexism. A former consulting editor at Satya Magazine, she blogs at Superweed. She is the author of the book Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies. As an ecofeminist educator and activist, pattrice frequently lectures on subjects such as the intersections of racism, sexism, speciesism, homophobia, and the exploitation of the environment as well as on practical topics such as managing grief and stress, healing from trauma, forging coalitions, and maintaining healthy organizations.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi I’m Caryn Hartglass and this is It’s All About Food. Really looking forward to today’s show as I always look forward to every show. I’m always inviting some people that I respect very much who are great activists and people doing wonderful things in the world to make it a better place. Today we’ll be talking with pattrice jones in a few minutes. Before we do that I just wanted to talk a little bit about something I read:
One of my favorite doctors Dr. John MacDougall, he has a website, drmacdougall.com. He frequently brings up the fact that there is lot of information in the news that is really misleading. And you get these sound bites or pieces from journal articles that have come out that makes some claims that really are misconstrued and not true. The most recent one was a worldwide headline from July 2nd about how vegetarian diets weaken bones and it is certainly not true. And it was some information from something called a Meta Analysis where a variety of different studies were combined and then analyzed. When you do something like this you have the opportunity to really play with the information to get the results that you want. But in comparison there have been many other studies and one that he brought out in particular was something published in the April 2009 Journal of Osteoporosis International where 105 post-menopausal Buddhist nuns were compared to 105 omnivorous women and the nuns were vegan. The conclusion was vegetarians, veganism in fact, which is when you’re not consuming any animal products, doesn’t have an adverse effect on bone’s mineral density and does not alter body composition.
We talked number of times about healthy bones and what people don’t realize is that a diet that is rich in animal foods, meat and dairy, tends to actually leach calcium from the blood because these are foods leave a very acidic environment and body tries to neutralize that acidity by drawing calcium from the bones. In addition foods like sodas with phosphoric acid like colas, or coffee, and salty foods tends to leach calcium from the body. So you have to know that a healthy vegetarian diet or healthy vegan diet is not going to be damaging on the bones. And when we read those things in the news we have to look a lot deeper.
So my guest today is pattrice jones. She is originally from Baltimore and had a sanctuary for birds in Maryland and has done quite a bit of work since the 70s. She has been a phenomenal eco-feminist educator and activist. And I believe she is standing by.
Are you there pattrice?
pattrice jones: I am there.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi.
pattrice jones: Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I have been really looking forward to hear all about you.
pattrice jones: Uh oh!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so let’s go back, I understand your activism goes back to the 70s.
pattrice jones: Indeed.
Caryn Hartglass: When did you first become a vegetarian? Let’s start with that.
pattrice jones: I quit eating meat when I was 15.
Caryn Hartglass: Me too, 15!
pattrice jones: Yeah the same year that I came out as a lesbian.
Caryn Hartglass: Why? Well they’re connected I think.
pattrice jones: At a gay rights rally. Yup, and it took me another 15 years to understand how those two choices may be linked, or were linked. But I did make them at the same time. I have to say like many vegetarians whose vegetarianism is routed in an incomplete analysis, I wasn’t always a reliable vegetarian and wasn’t vegan until much later in my life when I really come to understand this wasn’t just a personal choice.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
pattrice jones: It was an ethical choice and a personal choice for me but I didn’t really get how that choice come together with my other ethical commitments against racism, sexism, poverty …etc. Once I really got that, there were no more questions.
Caryn Hartglass: Well that just shows you what an incredible kind of cover, I don’t know what to call it, brainwashing or socializing we had all been through that cloaks the obvious once you see it, it’s all obvious. But it’s really difficult for so many people.
pattrice jones: It’s always so interesting to me to think back on the years when I was a social change activist insisting vigorously that we all understand the connections among racism, sexism and homophobia and later how all that linked up with environment. All along I’m vegetarian because I don’t want to eat animals and I’m vaguely supportive of animal rights. But I don’t make that connection, I think of it as something separate. And for me, at least interestingly what actually broke me through was my own graduate research into the history of racism, the psychological history of racism. And I was using the method of called Grounded Theory which is when you go and investigate without a pre-existing hypothesis. With the understanding that you don’t know what you’re going to find out and what you might find out may have nothing to do with what you would have hypothesized, maybe even something you didn’t want to know, or didn’t want to think about. What happened to me over the years of research that drove me further and further back into time, I found myself looking at the conjunction of patriarchy which is male-ruled and pastoralism which is animal-hurting and saying “Whoa!” One is these two things are completely tangled up together and I absolutely cannot separate sexism and speciesism and, two those things form the ground within centuries later, racism grew. Around at that same time my former partner Miriam Jones and I had gotten together and she was starting to do little bit of animal activism and giving little donations to animal rights organizations so we would be getting all of the mailings.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Once you’re on one list you’re on all of them.
pattrice jones: And finding out more and more things and that’s when I become vegan because that’s when I found out that in sort of in conjunction with me started to think more clearly about meat oppression and exploitation of animals and I am also confronted with reality of what happened to dairy cows and hens at egg factories who are not only just horribly, wretchedly exploited and then still killed for meat but also exploited specifically in sexual way and so then that was just not wrong but wrong in a way that it was absolutely infused with sexism. So that was it in terms of me being vegan.
And very shortly thereafter, we moved to a rural region, not really understanding because census data tells you it is an agricultural region, but not what kind of agriculture so we didn’t actually know we’re moving in to the center of poultry production and in fact moving into the region where factory farming of chickens had just been invented.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh goodness.
pattrice jones: Within 2, 3 weeks, maybe a month of moving we found a chicken by the side of the road, took the chicken in and that was the beginning of Eastern Shore Sanctuary which is still around. We founded it in 2000. We just, couple weeks ago relocated the main site of the sanctuary up to Springfield, Vermont but we still are active in rural Maryland and still have a practice in place and saving the birds down there. And like most sanctuaries we provide sanctuary for animals but from the start of our sanctuary we understood what we are doing is not just taking care of these particular animals, not just advocating for animal rights, doing that but within an awareness of how that links up with the other social problems that we’re concerned.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to get back to the whole concept of connecting the dots of with racism homophobism, sexism, speciesism. But just for a moment do we hear some of your friends in the background.
pattrice jones: (laughs) Yes you are hearing them in the background and it’s raining right now or I would be talking to you from the deck and you’d be hearing them even more but you are
(Rooster crowing in the background)
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
pattrice jones: Right on queue crowing.
Caryn Hartglass: So I think so many people don’t realize is how intelligent and how loving and intuitive and sensitive chickens and other birds can be and I know you’ve got many, many stories.
pattrice jones: I do, I was somebody who really thought birds were amazing and charming and beautiful. I always put out birdseeds in birdfeeders and love to watch the bird but I really assumed that mammals and avians were just such dissimilar kind of creatures that it wouldn’t possible to have relationship with bird or even begin to get wher they’re coming from. And I still know that there are many, many, many things about their way of being in the world, their way of communicating with each other, their way of doing what they do, the way they see things are something I would never get because it’s just too different. But in fact, we are all related, you can see this when you look at feet of chicken, if you look at the bottom of their feet looks so much like palms of our hand. It’s amazing! And that very first chicken we took in, it kind of had my grandmother’s eyes. So right away I started to rethink this whole idea of just how different we were and have come more to an appreciation that we are in some ways completely different and in another ways very much the same and it’s absolutely true that chickens and other avians have much more intelligence than most people give them credit for. There’s a great book by the name of Bird Brains which talks same about bird intelligence.
Caryn Hartglass: Did you hear the story recently? I may not get it right, but I think it was in a German zoo, there were some penguins and a couple gave birth to a penguin and then rejected the baby and then they put the baby penguin in with two 2 gay penguins who brought it up.
pattrice jones: Yeah, absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: I love that story from so many angles.
pattrice jones: I mean that’s the thing, obviously but not obviously to some, I mean so many people within their species, birds are social animals just as we are social animals, what is most important to them, just like us, are relationships, relationships with each other, just like us. Sometimes they are able to have relationships with members of other species and so some chickens do want to hang out with people and want to form relationships with people, some chickens make friends with dogs, with cats. But certainly as with us what really matters to them are their relationship with each other and that is just one of the many, many tragedies associated with the way we use and abuse animals are the degree to which we interfere with, destroy their family relationships.
Caryn Hartglass: Their families and their communities.
pattrice jones: Pardon
Caryn Hartglass: Their families and their communities
pattrice jones: Exactly their families, their communities, their friendships even the domesticated animals, so called domesticated animals who tend to be treated more kindly, such as cats and dogs, even they are routinely separated from their siblings and they are routinely taken away from their parents, by people who claim to love them.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, something I don’t understand is this disconnect so many people have that we’ve had but at some point we had this epiphany, that people who can have pets and who really love them as family members and then they have dinner, eat some animals and they never get it, I have spoken to some of them and they can be really defensive. I think subconsciously at least they get it. But what do we do to connect those dots? How do we do that? Have you seen anything that worked?
pattrice jones: So I am supposed to come up with an answer?
Caryn Hartglass: Oh no, I know there is no right answer, other than education and being *loud strange noise*
pattrice jones: Clearly we haven’t figured out, Did you just hear that strange noise?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, sounded like a cow or somebody had something to say about this.
pattrice jones: We clearly haven’t figured out what to do, but I think and I talk about it a bit in my book Aftershock about what we all need to do to connect up all sorts of dots, I think the root of the problem is dissociation, is the splitting off of things, inside ourselves, making artificial divisions outside of ourselves dividing, dividing, dividing, cutting things off, not connecting not connecting, not connecting for various reasons. Splitting up thoughts and feelings, splitting off unwanted feelings. Splitting off unwanted thoughts. Splitting up the families, splitting up the land and selling it etc. So fundamental understanding that those kind of traumatic disruptions in continuity are at the root of virtually every problems. So then we can see that any kind of connecting dots we can do is going into right direction. Whether that is helping people to see how speciesism is connected to problems that do concern them or whether that’s helping people to heal some of that traumatic splits within themselves so that they can have fuller access to their feelings including all of those split off feelings they have about animals. Because they’re there. They might not cry at the dinner table now but probably the first time they figured out that hamburger was cow, they did cry at the dinner table. And somebody thinking they were doing them a favor taught them not to cry, taught them not to care, taught them to split off
that natural sympathy for animals and that was done in conjunction with the process of so-called socialization, which we teach children to disown the wild side of themselves.
Caryn Hartglass: Have you seen the book Why We Don’t Eat Animals.
pattrice jones: Is it the children’s book?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s new.
pattrice jones: I haven’t read it myself, but I know a child who likes it very much.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I have been asking around about it because it is supposed to be geared toward the 6-10 age group. And it certainly looks like that sort of child’s book, but I’m just wondering what sort of responses and reactions there are. I’m really glad book is out there, but I don’t know if I want to show it to a 6 year-old child. It is not a story I want to tell. I don’t know, I have mixed feelings about it. I have a niece and nephew, they’re 2 and 4 and they’re vegan and I just prefer to share the joyful side of eating vegetables rather than sad side. But at some point they are going to have to know the reality. I don’t know.
pattrice jones: Well I think we’re sort of verging into where there are lot of questions in terms of how to raise children to not lose touch with their feelings in a culture where all their peers had been taught to suppress their feelings. I don’t think that we’ve fully done the job, although there are a lot of people are working in the field of humane education who have done lot of really good thinking. We need to be listening to them. We still have lot of ways to go in terms of thinking through how to help kids negotiate this, certainly you don’t want to make children who are going to be forced to eat meat by their parents or in their school system, we don’t want to make them really guilty. On the other hand we don’t want to collude in this process of suppressing their natural sympathy for animals. Its tricky, but certainly moving back to the point of what we can do for adults, helping people to access those split off feelings even though the process of doing so can be really painful because it forces to realize what you’ve have been doing
Caryn Hartglass: Any change can be painful and difficult but when you get to the other side, it’s relief, its peace, its beauty, its joy.
pattrice jones:Yeah, yeah, yeah but there are some rough goings, going through it.
I know that I and I always try to keep touch with, it would very easy. That’s why when you said “when did you quit eating meat?” I said “when I was 15,” to make sure I have chance to say more, to say that I wasn’t always a reliable vegetarian, I did split sometimes. I wasn’t vegan yet. I don’t want to lose touch with that truth because it would then be easy to lose touch with how folks feel who are in that position. And I know for me the process of going vegan was filled with great deal of anguish concerning the degree to which I had colluded with the exploitation of cows, to the degree if I really thought about it where I could say, I didn’t know, but I knew.
Caryn Hartglass: I like to say its easy for me now doing it for so long, I don’t see the other things, I don’t see meat and dairy as food. But looking back it did take quite a while of reprogramming, where I would look at the food and say “This is…” and I would label it things, especially with dairy. I would label it “this is pain and suffering”, “this is cancer” all kinds of bad things rather than “this is yummy, delicious, satisfying”, but it takes a while. You’re right, it’s important to connect with challenge people go through in the change
pattrice jones: Exactly with dairy, its really important to remember this is milk and milk is what mammal produces in her body to feed her babies. So what we got here it’s not just generic pain and suffering, what we have here is mother robbed of her milk, we have here mother robbed of her child, we also have here is us, humans in a country where the vast majority of women don’t breastfeed. Their children, they’ve outsourced that to cows and their children have been robbed of their mother’s milk and both mother and child have been robbed of the experience, the bonding, the essential process of being together.
Caryn Hartglass: This just popped into my head, I think it was from Sesame Street, that I watch when I was around 9 or 10 years old with my younger brother and there was brief little series on cows on the farm. And the narrator said: “The cow makes much too milk for her young calf to drink.” I’ll never forget it, those were the exact words. Going into the fact that, oh there is this flowing abundance of milk and we need to drink it. And I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.
pattrice jones: You think not?
Caryn Hartglass:I don’t know, maybe. But I don’t know that person creating that show really knew what they were doing. I don’t now if all of it was intentional, I think everybody is in this big brainwashed mush. I mean maybe they were getting this big donation from some dairy company, I don’t know but I’ll never forget those words, imprinted on my young minds.
pattrice jones: Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of dairy cows are taken right away and there is no chance to offer any of her milk to any of her children. And no mention of the fact that they produce so much milk because of the growth hormones that they are fed. And that they have painful mastitis and other infections.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t even know if people realizes when they look at most dairy cows in America, their udders are so grossly enlarged and it became really apparent to me when I went to Costa Rica which I make frequent trips there now and cows that are grown naturally their udders are tiny and they’re just so physically different. Because we have distorted these poor animals to create so much milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So you wrote a book, After Shock. What was the motivation to do that? And tell me a little bit about it.
pattrice jones: A few years ago, I wrote and I was at a conference, sitting around after the conference talking with a few other activists. We happened to mention an activist who we had seen at the conference and we were really happy to see because she seemed to have dropped off the map for a while. It turned out that what had happened was that she had been very depressed. That got us talking about the incidence of depression among social justice activists of all sorts. As it happened one of the people in that conversation was the editor of Satya Magazine, which was published in New York City but is now defunct. I was talking about some of the things you could do about that, drawing upon my graduate training in clinical psychology and a couple of days later, she asked me would I like to write an article about some of the things that I said, for the magazine. And I did. So many people said that it was so helpful to them that Martin Rowe of Lantern Books actually came up to me the next time I was at a conference and asked me if I would please expand that article into a book. Not just for animal liberation activists, but for all people working in social justice activism, non-profit organizations, etc. The whole question of how do we handle the everyday trauma, the stress, the grief, the stress disorder, the depression that goes along with doing and trying to heal such a violent world that we live in. So I wrote the book.
Caryn Hartglass: So do you have a few nuggets…words or pearls of wisdom? What we should do?
pattrice jones: First of all, make connections. Make connections in every way you can. Make connections with other people. Remember trauma is some sort of cutting up, some sort of breaking up, some sort of tearing into. And we know that one of the ways that people can heal from any sort of trauma, and also one of the ways to just manage stress and depression, is make connections. Make connections with other people, make connections with other people. I’m hearing buzzing now.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I am too and I’m wondering if it’s my phone.
pattrice jones: No, we’re alright here.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. It’s okay now. So continue. I’m sorry about that.
pattrice jones: We’ve got some storms blowing over here. Talking about making connections we’re all in our particular places and I’m in a place that’s got thunderstorms rolling through right now. So, make connections with your environment. Get out into nature. If you live in a city, pay attention to the grass growing through the cracks. Look up at the sky sometimes. Make connections within yourself. Use any method that you can to access rather than cut off your feelings. The key with feelings, especially the feeling you don’t want, is express and let go rather than repress and thereby hang onto.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. You want to acknowledge it and send it out.
pattrice jones: Yes, and you may need to stay with it awhile. Grief takes awhile.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
pattrice jones: But the thing is with feelings is…and this is sort of my next gem of wisdom is to remember that you are an animal and respect your own animal rights. As an animal, you’ve got feelings. That’s the thing about animals. We’ve got feelings and these feelings grow in your body. You don’t get to say whether you’re going to have them or not. You don’t get to say, “I’m not going to be angry about things,” or “I’m not going to be sad about things,” anymore than you get to say, “Oh, I’m not going to need vitamin C anymore.” It’s just not going to happen. You’re going to have the feelings. And so, your choice is not do I have feelings or not, but what am I going to do with the feelings that I have. If you find ways to feel them, express them, ideally in words to other people. But any other way you can…art, music, dance. Feel – express. That’s what’s going to send those feelings on their way. If you push them down, they’re just going to keep on hanging around in your body. And they’re going to come out one way or another. They could come out as depression. Could come out as bursts of anger. Could come out as phobias you don’t know where they came from. It’s all just feelings hanging around in your body without anywhere to go.
Caryn Hartglass: Now anger, it’s good to express it and let it go, but there are certainly plenty of angry activists that express themselves to those that aren’t following their way. They do it in a way that turns everyone off.
pattrice jones: Non-violent communication is the key.
Caryn Hartglass: There we go. There’s another good catch phrase.
pattrice jones: Yeah, and the thing is generally if you’re just sort of venting rather than really expressing, it doesn’t really get it out of your system either. Especially if you’re venting in a way that puts other people off, then you’re not going to be making those connections that are really going to be sustaining to you and make your activism sustainable. So you’re going to run a real high risk of burn-out. There’s lots of ways to express anger that are both healthy for you and healthy for other people and actually might lead to productive change. Certainly in interpersonal interactions anger can be expressed within what is called non-violent communication. That means owning your feelings, saying things like, “I feel this,” rather than “You make me feel that.”
Caryn Hartglass: Right. It’s amazing what a little shift in presentation or perspective can change everything.
pattrice jones: “I feel.” “I” statements. “I feel this.” Not, “You make me feel that,” or not “This thing is true.” “I feel this.” Also focusing if you’re actually expressing anger to someone who has made you angry or someone who has done something that has led you to feel angry, then it’s really important to focus on the behavior rather than on the person. And not to attribute thoughts or feelings to that other person that they have not expressed. A lot of time we get mad at people in the course of expressing your anger or arguing back and forth trying to solve the conflict, will say things that are based on what we assumed they think or feel. But we really don’t know what they think or feel. All we know is the behavior we’ve seen. And so if you can just focus on that, on the things you actually know, you’re going to have a higher chance of resolving the conflict. Those are just a few keys, people can look up non-violent communication.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I’m talking with Patrice Jones and she has a website pattricejones.info, lots of good things there and links to articles and information. I want to get back now to this connecting the dots: racism, homophobism, sexism, speciessm. Sometimes it frustrates me because there are so many different organizations and they’re focusing on a piece. It could be a charity for a disease. it could be a non-profit for the environment. It could be a gay/lesbian rights organization. It could be a feminist group. They’re working on a small piece of the pie and they’re not getting the big picture. It frustrates me, because I think if we all work together as one big giant group with the big picture, we’d solve the problem much more quickly. I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this, but people seem to hang on to one particular item and aren’t able to see the big picture. I talked a little bit about this a few weeks ago with Carol Adams and she was connected with this eco-feminist community, and some women didn’t want to read her writings because they knew where it was going to lead them and they weren’t ready to be vegetarian. And then I’m always infinitely frustrated with groups like the Sierra Club and others who tend to serve meat at some of their events and they wave the flag for the environment and they (maybe not as much as before but there’s still plenty of it) where their head is in the sand about what truly is causing the most damage to the environment and it’s animal agriculture. And then, I remember protesting once at a…I think it was a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Madison Square Garden and we were protesting their treatment of the animals in the circus and a number of people walked by – parents with children and they were all very frustrated like why are we protesting such a wonderful thing for children. What surprised me too is that the women would stand up for the activity and the black women would stand up for the activity. I would think why do these women not realize what…It seem like they were hanging on to their place in the hierarchy somehow. That I’m above them so why don’t we just leave it the way it is. Do you know at all what I’m getting at here?
pattrice jones: Yeah, I hear you. There’s so many things that I think in response to what you just said, it’s hard for me to figure out which one to say first. The first thing I would say, I guess, is that it has always been difficult for social change organizations of all sorts to widen their focus and understand how what they’re working on relates to what other people are working on. There are a lot of complicated reasons for that. The people who start organizations tend to be really, really closely focused on a particular issue. People’s egos and identities get very caught up in a particular way of looking at things or on this idea that this is the most important problem and we must solve this.
Caryn Hartglass: This happens with like-minded groups too.
pattrice jones: Of course. With every group. I’ve been saying since the first time I heard what Hansen had to say that the only people who have the right to say, “This is the most important thing and we all should be working on this,” is probably the people who are working on climate change. Because, truly, if we don’t solve that, then all the rest starts to become irrelevant. And certainly If we don’t solve that, folks who are disadvantaged due to race or poverty, etc., are going to get the worst of it. Anyway, leaving that one issue aside, I think it’s pretty clear that it’s all one big struggle. We seem to be moving in progressive circles toward an understanding of that. If you look back, we see in the 70s and in the 80s, people are starting to understand, largely the result of black, feminist activists and writers and other women of color…but others as well, really start to understand how race and gender are just inexplicably interwoven that race is gendered and that gender is raced. And of course, the link between race and poverty is pretty clear. And then, in the late 80s was when folks started talking about environmental racism and there at least started to be an understanding of how that linked in to the matrix. Sexual orientation came in also in the 70s as people were understanding that as a function of sexism rather than a free-standing problem of its own. So, really, it’s speciesism that’s sort of the last piece of the puzzle that hasn’t quite been accepted within progressive circles. And similarly, folks working within the animal movement have had that mono-maniacal focus on animals, so they’ve been slow at times to see connections with other issues…understanding the importance of attending to social justice, not only in coalition efforts but within organizations. We’ve still got a lot of those male-headed, women-work organizations in the animal movement. The organized animal rights movement is not all-white by any means, certainly not as white as it’s portrayed. But still disproportionately white particularly if you look at poll data it shows that black and Latino women are actually more open to animal rights than white women.
Caryn Hartglass: They are?
pattrice jones: Yeah, see? Stereotypes going on. So, I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done from both sides on this. Some of that work is being done, has been done. Folks have started to think through really specifically how race and speciesism link up. While at the same time, other folks have been working on the whole problem, just getting social justice activists to be at least a little bit more open minded about the animal rights question, and getting animal rights activists to get that what they’re working on links up with these other things. So that work is being done. But it’s not done yet. If other movements are any guide, we’re in for a long and sometimes difficult emotional haul. By no means was it easy for the feminist movement to get to the point where it is now. You know, you take a Women’s Studies course…you take Women Studies 101, chances are your teacher is going to tell you right off the bat, racism and sexism are linked. We didn’t get that way without a lot of tears and anger and struggle between anti-racist activists and feminist activists.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re right. And those issues still aren’t solved either.
pattrice jones: And it’s still not all fixed by any means.
Caryn Hartglass: Fortunately we’re talking about it, whereas 50 years ago we really weren’t.
pattrice jones: We’re still decades back in terms of bringing animals into the analysis that progressive folks have. And that work just has to be done, but it has to be done, I think, with a great deal of empathy and modesty on both sides.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I’m changing the subject again. When you save a bird and bring it to your sanctuary…and I’m sure the stories are different, but what happens and how does the bird express itself? Does it go through a period of shock or is it tremendously joyful? How do they express themselves during that period?
pattrice jones: There’s a high level of variability. It so much depends on the circumstances the bird came from and also the personality of the individual bird. Birds who fall off of trucks headed to the slaughter factory are generally only 6 to 8 weeks old. So they’re juveniles. They’ve never seen anything other than juveniles their own age. They were not raised by their parents. They were not socialized by other birds and they were living in these crowded darken sheds. They’re real young. Their brains haven’t even fully developed yet. So, there will be a day or two where they’re sort of in shock…often. Then they’ll usually affiliate with an older bird or two who will show them the ropes. Hens coming from egg factories…so much depends how long they were in the factory. Hens who have been in the factory for 18 months or so, their muscles may have even begun to atrophy from not being able to walk at all. So, walking may literally be a challenge for them at first because they’ve actually not done anything but standing in these little cages clutching the wires with their feet which are often injured and crippled from that. But even they will tend to huddle together in the shed, really just for a day and then the most intrepid of the group will start venturing out and the others will follow, and then, “Oh look water. Food. What’s this green out there?” “What’s this blue up there?” And they can be eventually, especially the so-called white leghorn hens, once they’ve fully recovered – I don’t think they ever fully recover. They’re still a bit traumatized – but once they’re in good health again, they tend to be among the wildest birds we’ve got. They fly. They go up into the trees.
Caryn Hartglass: What do they have to lose? They’ve seen the worst. [laughter]
pattrice jones: But I’ve certainly learned a lot from them because when I think about the trauma that they’ve undergone, and then I see how after a period of, really the same kind of thing we need to recover from our trauma – a safe place, relationships with others, relationships with the natural world, they’re able to recover. But what’s really amazing to me is the degree to which they’re able to see joy every day regardless of their past. I really try, especially since so much of what I do reminds me of so many things that are so awful. I really try to at the same time, sort of follow their lead and just as they will just so excitedly run to see what that mud puddle might have in it, or what be on that new bush. I try to when there’s a little bit of happiness as I’ve had to today when it turned out that the black raspberry bushes are now full of ripe fruit. I try to really seize that little bit of happiness, because that’s going to sustain me and help me be able to tolerate looking at the horrible things we’ve got to look at, and thinking about the horrible things that I think about.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I just want to talk now about food. Are you a Foodie? Do you like food? Do you enjoy any particular kind of food or is it just something that keeps you going?[pause]
pattrice jones: Caryn, I’m so sorry but I’ve lost you.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you hear me now?
pattrice jones: Yes, I do.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I’m sorry. That’s technology for you. I want to talk about food, because it’s one of my favorite subjects. It’s the name of the show…Its All About Food and even though everything we’ve been talking about is related to food. Are you an “Eat to Live” or a “Live to Eat?” Do you enjoy what you eat?
pattrice jones: [laugh] I’m neither. I’m in between those two extremes. If I get so caught up in my work, I will sometimes forget to eat until I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator eating handsful of raw lettuce or spinach. But I do also enjoy cooking. I enjoy baking especially. I’ve got a serious sweet-tooth and you know you can’t satisfy that if you’re vegan, I mean with rare exceptions unless you’re baking yourself. (objections by Caryn) I’ve been living in a rural area.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, but when you move to the city, especially in Minneapolis, there’s some wonderful bakeries.
pattrice jones: Yes, I know that’s true, but I’ve been living in a rural area so I’ve had to hone my vegan baking skills and happily so, because I really enjoy baking.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. I want to bring it up and I always like bringing it up because the bottom line is that we talk about all these awful things going on and our solution is to eat plant foods and not eat from animals but the point I always want to make is that no one is going to be missing anything because the food that we eat is full of variety, full of color and diversity, certainly full of nutrients and delicious, delicious, delicious. And you can make almost everything. And the baked goods that are coming out today, prepared or the ones that you can make at home, they’re all phenomenal . There’s more and more great vegan cookbooks coming out. I’m always curious to talk about food and see what other people like to eat because it’s important…
pattrice jones: The other day I was eating these black raspberries off a bush here in Vermont and you can actually taste the perfume of the flower in the berries and at the same time as I was just…oh I was just savoring that, at the same time the thought came into my mind – What in the world have we done to the world, because this is so different…
Caryn Hartglass: …from what you buy from the store. I’m glad you brought that up because I have so many different memories, but it’s so important to eat locally grown, organic food as fresh as possible. And if you can, grow food. When I grew up, they had blackberry bushes all around the neighborhood before they started flattening the place to build more houses.
pattrice jones: Great. And listen, just changing your own diet – and this actually links to what I wanted to say when you were saying about eating, because changing your own diet, that’s really good, that’s important to do, that’s not enough. You want to talk about making all these connections, etc., well how people in cities, in some neighborhoods in the cities, are going to go vegan if they don’t even sell fresh fruits or vegetables in the grocery stores that they can get to. Linking to what you just said, supporting things like community gardens, roof top gardening projects, urban gardening projects, farmer’s markets, bringing them into inner cities, any kind of effort that we can do to bring healthier food to a wider variety of people is essential.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. It’s all part of the picture.
pattrice jones: Absolutely. And I just wanted to say because I know we’re almost out of time when we were talking about making all these connections, there’s a wonderful book that’s going to be coming out from my publisher, Lantern Books, the anthology – It’s called the Sistah Vegan Anthology and it’s an anthology of writings by black vegan women in North America and I’ve read it because I wrote the Afterword. What infuses virtually every chapter written by a different person is an understanding of how this is all connected and it’s not just about changing your own personal diet. How this is a health issue, this is a spiritual issue, this is a political issue, this is an issue involving racism, this is an issue involving sexism, and yes, you’ve got to go vegan yourself but that’s not enough.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I agree it’s not enough, but we can only control ourselves, and we can do it with joy. We can be the best model that we can so that other people get curious and we can make it infectious where other people want to learn about why we’re at peace or why we’re so joyful or so radiant or whatever.
pattrice jones: I hear you, but me personally, I’m not at peace. I mean I’m at peace to a certain degree, but as long as we’ve got that grocery store problem, for example, in the city, whatever city I might be in, I’m not going to fully be thrilled with all the wonderful vegan options that are available to me. And I do think that if we are privileged in some way…all us humans are privileged by being here. Within speciesism, all of us humans are privileged over animals and yes, you’re right, some people who are disadvantaged among people will cling to that privilege over animals. But one of the reasons they cling is because of the inequality among people. so fixing that will help. I just think that if you’ve got power, if you’re middle class or above, if you’re white, if you’re male, you’ve got an absolute ethical obligation to actually work on one of those problems.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s why we’re here today talking about what we’re talking about. Pattrice, it’s been great talking to you. That music means we’re out of time.
pattrice jones: Beautiful. Thank you for having me so much. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I love talking to you and keep doing what you’re doing.
pattrice jones: Ditto.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you. So that’s been pattrice jones. Her website is pattricejones.info and this has been It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass, I’ll be back next week. Thank you.
Transcribed by Nomin Nyamkhuu and Sharon Engel, 7/26/2014