Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Founders Jenny Brown and Doug Abel moved to Woodstock as full-time residents in May 2004. Doug is a film editor and Jenny previously worked as a producer, director and post-production supervisor. They met while working for the filmmaker Errol Morris in Boston, while Doug played a key role in editing the Academy Award award-winning documentary The Fog of War. Jenny’s credits include work on the PBS series Frontline and Nova, ABC’s 9/11 special Report From Ground Zero, and most recently she produced and directed a show for Discovery Channel’s Extreme Engineering series, A Trans-Atlantic Tunnel. Since the early 90’s, Jenny would occasionally volunteer her time working undercover as a videographer for PETA and Farm Sanctuary. After her last week-long trip undercover visiting stockyards in Texas, she decided to give up her TV career and dedicate her life to helping these animals that society seems to have forgotten. Jenny moved to Watkins Glen, NY, to live and work at Farm Sanctuary and learn all she could about shelter operations. It was that essential experience that gave the couple the confidence to open up a sanctuary of their own.
Hi, I am Caryn Hartglass, and you are listening to It’s All About Food. We talk about a lot of topics on this show, and they’re always related to my favorite subject, food. So not only do we talk about all kinds of delicious things that we serve up on our plates, but we talk about how food affects our health, the personal health of our individual bodies, the bodies of our families, as well as the health of the planet because people really need to understand the connection between food production and how it affects the environment. We’re going to be talking to Jenny Brown today, and she is a co-founder, along with Doug Abel of the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. And they moved to Woodstock as full-time resident in May 2004. Doug is a film editor, and Jenny, previously worked as a producer, director, and post-production supervisor. They met while working for the filmmaker Errol Morris in Boston while Doug played a key role in editing the Academy Award winning documentary, The Fog of War. Jenny’s credits include work on the PBS series Frontline and Nova, ABC’s 9/11 Special Report from Ground Zero, and most recently she produced and directed a show for Discovery Channel, Extreme Engineering Series, A Transatlantic Tunnel. Since the early 90’s, Jenny would occasionally volunteer her time working undercover as a videographer for PETA and Farm Sanctuary. After her last week-long trip undercover, visiting stockyards in Texas, she decided to give up her TV career and dedicate her life to helping these animals that society seems to have forgotten. Jenny moved to Watkins Glen, NY, to live and work at Farm Sanctuary, and learned all she could about shelter operations. It was that essential experience that gave the couple the confidence to open up a sanctuary of their own. And we’re going to be hearing a lot more about Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in this hour.
Caryn Hartglass: Jenny! Welcome!
Jenny Brown: Thank you, thank you for having me, Caryn!
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh, I am so glad we finally got the opportunity to talk.
Jenny Brown: Great! Yup, we finally connected! Sorry about the crazy schedules.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you know the busy people, we get more done.
Jenny Brown: We’re getting stuff done!
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. I just wanted to tell the listeners that we are streaming live today if you want to watch the show, you can. You can also call in at 1-888-874-4888. Okay, great. Jenny, tell me everything that’s going on at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Jenny Brown: Well, we started the sanctuary, sorry, did I cut you off?
Caryn Hartglass: No, no, I just, I get all these great emails about things that are happening.
Jenny Brown: Well, we do keep busy, which you basically have to do if you’re running a charity. Farm animal welfare issues are not mainstream, philanthropic, issues with lots of people who give charitably, and unless you are someone who basically knows about the issues with farm animals and what’s going on in today’s animal agriculture and then these in factory farming, lots of people just think that this is a very strange thing that we are a shelter for farm animals, and if they’re eating farm animals then often times, you know, they want to draw that disconnect and they sort of don’t want to know about their suffering. Their money, if they claimed to love animals, their money often goes to cat and dog shelters, you know, animals that we know and love as companion animals, but what we’ve asked people to do from the conception of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is to think beyond that and I think it’s Albert Einstein said you know “To expand your circle of compassion.” And, what we try to get people to do here is to see farm animals as something other than hot wings and bacon, and to come visit these animals because we are home to over 200 rescued food production animals, that’s where our focus lies.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s just back up a minute.
Jenny Brown: Okay.
Caryn Hartglass: So, there’s roughly 60 billion land animals that are killed every year for food, and that includes chickens and pigs and cows and turkeys and the host of other animals. And most of them probably more than 99% are confined in filthy, disgusting, horrifically cruel factory farms, most of them don’t see the light of day, they can’t move very often, or if they can it’s very little. Birds can’t expand their wings, they live in their own filth, and they’re fed things that they shouldn’t be fed, many of these animals are vegetarian and they’re fed render of other animals that have been sick and it’s just an unbelievable sci-fi kind of scenario, but it’s actually happening. And so, this is to provide people with flesh, animal flesh that people eat. And, we could certainly feed everyone in this planet with plant foods, be a lot of efficient, a lot cleaner, we wouldn’t have the climate change problems that we have today, people would be a lot healthier and so what we’d like to do on this show and I am sure you talk about it quite a bit at the sanctuary is what the impact of our diet is and the benefits of plant food. Now out of those 60 billion animals, there are a handful of them that escape or for one reason or another end up 200 of them at your sanctuary.
Jenny Brown: Right, and everybody has a unique rescue story, but strangely enough, we’re just two hours north of New York City, lots of these animals are coming from the over 100 live kill markets down in the city. So, often, we’re not taking in, even though, yes, that’s where most animals dwell are these factory farms, these CAFOs, which are basically massive confinement operations, confinement feeding operations, where animals welfare is not a factor in the daily operations of these places. But the animals that we’ve here, have either been seized from the local SPCA, they’ve been found running around Prospect Park, a chicken we just got a call this morning, for yet another chicken down in the city seen, you know, between some cars, just running around in the neighborhood and that’s because I think there’s so many different cultures down in this city, and lots of these cultures are used to going right in a market picking out a baby goat, a lamb, a chicken, pheasant, whatever, rabbit, whatever it is that they look to eat and they either take the animals home alive and they slaughter it according to either religious customs or something like Santeria happening, the animals are used in religious sacrifice, we just took in 93, what’s known as broiler birds, these are the birds that are specifically raised for meat that reached a profitable slaughter weight at 45 days of age. These are the birds that are trucked in by the thousands down in the areas where Williamsburg in Brooklyn and there are neighborhoods where Hasidic and Orthodox Jews still practice something known as Kaporos, it happens during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s a ceremony where they swing a live chicken around their head, casting their sins into that chicken and then the chicken is slaughtered. Back in the day, it used to be that those carcasses would go to feed the poor. In this day and age, with you know, food and drugs safety issues, most of the time, these lives, these little birds are just thrown away. So, that’s an example of 93 birds that just came here recently, and we worked with other sanctuaries, to sort of farm them out.
Caryn Hartglass: How did you get the birds?
Jenny Brown: Well, we went down there and there was a lot of begging and pleading, and we refused to exchange any words with these people, we are trying to be respectful of their religion, but there were a few people that handed them over, there was a crate that tipped over, and a number of them ran out, and we were able to scoop up a few, the injured ones, one of the activists and asked if we could have any injured ones, we took a few that they wouldn’t have sold, and that were relinquishing with no food or water, cramped in crates with, you know, a dozen other birds. And then we did hear of one activist that was going up pretending to be participating, was buying the birds to save their lives, but we don’t really condone that practice because we don’t want to put money back into the pockets of the people who are doing these things. And that’s, against our policy, but when the little sick animal, a little injured thirsty animal is brought to you, you know there’s no way, you can, I at least for me, that I can turn away from them. Their life matters very much, no matter how they got into my hands, you know.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a terrible tradition, and I know that there are more and more that are changing swinging the chicken over the head with a bag of money.
Jenny Brown: It’s a much more contemporary and progressive thing to do that’s widely accepted. There’s nothing in the Torah that says that it has to be a chicken and so, you know, there’s lots of discussion over that.
Caryn Hartglass: Unfortunately, that’s just one of millions and millions of activities that go on where animals are abused.
Jenny Brown: Absolutely, but when people wonder where these animals come from, sadly, the animals that are languishing in factory farms, you know, they live their entire lives in a giant industrial shed and then they’re loaded onto transport trucks that take them to the slaughterhouse, so there’s rarely an opportunity to rescue these animal unless, you know, an animal was able to squeeze through the slats on the truck and jump off the back of the truck, which is how Miss Piggy came to us. There’s a bunch of different stories, but what we do here is, you know, we advocate on behalf of these animals, these animals are effectively ambassadors to the cause because we’re so disconnected from our food in this day and age that people typically don’t sit down and think about that perfectly round burger or patty between two pieces of bread having been someone, so our work here is trying to bridge that gap, bring people in touch with animals that they’ve only known as food, and see them as something other than food. And, while you’re seeing this animal, while you are meeting Judy or Patsy the Pig, or Jillian the steer, or Henrietta the Hen, you’re learning how others like them are living right now in order to become food. And, what we also try to get people to see is that our meat and dairy consumption is basically just a deeply ingrained cultural habit. It’s tradition. All of us at work here are vegan, we would like to show that we are living proof that you can you know, subsist on a plant-base diet without getting sickly, looking underweight or gaunt or greyish, you know, whatever these claims are that people put on us. It’s, for the trivial pleasure of our palate. Ten billion farm animals, land animals, are killed in this country alone. People are shocked when they think about the fact that 3.4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in this country annually, but when you think about the 27 million that are slaughtered in this country every day, again, because we basically think they taste good. There’s so much evidence out there that proves we don’t need animal products in our diet, in fact, as books like The China Study have shown, we’re doing more damage to ourselves by consuming these products than we are at reaping the benefits. And so, people come here, the most educated, sophisticated, cultured, New York City socialite, and you see these people as we take people on tours on the weekends, we are open on the weekends to the public only April through October, we take people on these farm tours, and people have never even stop to think about the fact that they, a cow had to have a calf in order to produce milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s incredible, the disconnect, incredible.
Jenny Brown: And you know, when you think about it, these animals are so much a part of our lives, not only three times a day with most people, when you sit down and have a meal, but we wear their leather, we use their wool, we use these animals however we see fit, and there are some that believe that animals are here for us, and it’s a very specieist point of view, somehow, as their parents were led to believe and our doctors are led to believe, that we need these animal products in our diet, they are, you know, for protein, it’s for calcium, basically, just very clever advertising campaigns on behalf of the dairy industry with their milk mustaches and that sort of thing. That’s keeping this information from the public, we teach our, you know, we read these school books to our kids, Old McDonald had a Farm, with these bucolic images of animals grazing in the fields and pigs wallowing in the mud, and it doesn’t exists.
Caryn Hartglass: And there are commercials too today where we still see the green pastures filled with happy cows, California Dairy, it’s a vicious lie.
Jenny Brown: It really is a vicious lie, it’s a broken and corrupt system where USDA is made up of people who have sat at the heads of ConAgra, Monsanto, and Cargill, and these giant corporations that have basically corrupted our food policies and the systems in government that are supposed protect us and oversee what it is that American diet is and where the tax subsidies go.
Caryn Hartglass: Have you been in California and past through the area people nicknamed Cow-schwitz?
Jenny Brown: No I haven’t, but I know what you are talking about, and I think it’s dry lot after dry lot, and it’s the feedlots. Dry lots are basically what 90% of dairy cows live on this day and age, where they never go out to pasture, they’re kept in large industrial sheds, they’re milked, maybe they get to walk outside and have their meals while they’re cleaning up the parlor before they go back into their second or third milking of the day, but feedlots are where every kind of beef cattle in this country, the last two to three months of lives is where they are basically converted over from grass to corn and soy, and often slaughterhouse remains, chicken poop from the massive, from the meat chicken industry or the egg industry, these are all animal products and they even consider the waste of chickens to be an animal products. And this is all fed to cattle, to fatten them up, and in order to keep them from getting sick, that’s where we start pumping them full of antibiotics because they’re not meant to eat this food. We are converting them from what they are meant to eat as herbivores, grass, over to what’s basically, heavily subsidized crops, corn and soy, and it makes them sick. Therefore to prevent to prevent illness, before their livers and kidneys and their various organs shut down, they’re killed.
Caryn Hartglass: You know, you’ve just, the last few sentences have been big mouthful of information. I think we need to talk a little more about all of them because they’re so huge. So, not only is what we are doing with factory farming, cramping animals in these horrible situations, not only is it horrifically cruel, but there are so many things that are so unhealthy about the quote “food” that’s being made in these factory farms. So, you mentioned the antibiotics that these animals are being fed in order to prevent them from being sick because they’re in such a filthy, unhealthy environment, they can’t help but pick up disease, and the common bovine growth hormone that’s given to cows to create more milk makes their utters very inflamed and they’re just so uncomfortable and so sick and so we feed them antibiotics, and when you eat the meat or the dairy products, you are getting concentrated versions of those antibiotics and so we’re now starting to see antibiotics resistance as a result, in humans.
Jenny Brown: Right, and when you really need those antibiotics, they’re not going to work on you.
Caryn Hartglass: And then, oh my god, there are so many issues here. So, imagine these animals eating all of the garbage and it’s, I love recycling, and this is really in an ugly form of recycling, excrement is literally fed back to the animals and animal flesh and remains, animals that are naturally vegetarian, cows are vegetarian animals and they’re fed animal flesh. They’re fed excrement, they’re fed all the garbage that can be swept up from the floor, they consume it, and then you’re ultimately eat their flesh or dairy products, and there are toxins in there. There’s just all kinds of things that you don’t want to consume.
Jenny Brown: No, and when you think about you’re consuming the flesh of an animal that consumed that, it’s repulsive to me, but again, we are so disconnected, people go to a restaurant, they’re socializing, they’re busy, they’re working on their computer, they have a plate of food brought to them, they never stop. There’s not even a visual that appears in their mind of a cow or of a pig or of a chicken. We’re so disconnected, and people simply choose not to think about it, but with the bovine growth hormone, like you just mentioned, this is starting to make its way into infant formulas and there was just recently a huge issue of children in China growing breasts before they were a year old because of the concentrations of powdered milk that they were receiving because it was not labeled that the cows had received bovine growth hormones. So, it’s, you know, even my own nine-year-old cousin, I am from Kentucky, my nine-year-old cousin started her menstruation and had breasts larger than me because she had steady diet of McDonalds and hot dogs. She was never made to eat any vegetables.
Caryn Hartglass: Nine years old. That shouldn’t happen until 17 if we were on a heavy plant-based diet.
Jenny Brown: Early development, and that’s a personal study, in my own family. And so, it’s just, the problem is lack of information. The problem is, it begins in the classroom where there’s never any connection made to children who have an inherent love for animals.
Caryn Hartglass: The lie begins in the classroom.
Jenny Brown: The lie begins in the classroom because we never, nobody ever tells the kids that a cow has to produce milk, has to have a calf in order to produce milk and that milk was meant for their calf, and so that we can drink the milk that rightfully belongs to that calf, that calf becomes veal if it’s male, the females will later replace their mother, after going through the hell of being artificially inseminated, every nine months, and milked while she is pregnant, and her calves taken away from her within hours of birth, so that she doesn’t connect, which is false.
Caryn Hartglass: They scream when their babies are taken from them.
Jenny Brown: If everybody could see a calf being taken from its mother, and to hear her cries, and to hear the cries of the babies, and to see her depression, and her listlessness and wandering around calling for her baby, this is happening at this very moment so that people can drink the milk that rightfully belongs to these calves. And I pose to people, think about the fact that we are the only species that drinks milk into adulthood, and we are the only species that drink the milk from other species. Cow’s milk has natural occurring hormones and antibiotics for cows, for us, it’s leading to osteoporosis, the industry wants us to believe that we all need it for healthy bones, but in fact, the opposite is the truth. And folks never stop to think about, even myself, I became a vegetarian at 18 years old, grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I did not have forward thinking, liberal, bohemian, tree-hugging parents. You know, I grew up in a Southern Baptist household with a single mother, we lived with my grandparents for years, I didn’t even know, I didn’t even have a vegetarian in my life. I didn’t even know the word vegetarian until my freshman semester in college, but, so, I want people to see where I come from. I ate plenty of meat and dairy, flank steak was my favorite, I, you know, I loved pork chops, I loved bacon. My sister and I used to fight over turkey heart at Thanksgiving because my grandfather would say that, you know, don’t you want another heart, it makes your heart bigger. Just, and it repulses me now that I think of having eaten an animal’s organ, when we really look at what it is, it’s pretty repulsive, like eggs being a product of chicken’s menstrual cycle, it’s kind of nasty, but we never stop and think about these things because we’re not part of that process and to think about it is inconvenient, you know, unless you go out and look for this information and sit at your computer and google it and look at the images and allow yourself to see and be informed, things are never going to get better.
Caryn Hartglass: I remember watching on Sesame Street, now, this was a longtime ago, maybe in its early days, but for some reason this line always stuck with me and it was a program on the farm, and on dairy cows, and there was a line when they said “The cows make much, too much milk, for its young calf to drink.” It was exactly that, it just rung in my head, and I thought back to it later because it was a lie.
Jenny Brown: It’s a total lie.
Caryn Hartglass: And as you mentioned, number one, a cow does not make milk unless she becomes pregnant and gives birth.
Jenny Brown: And to keep her productivity up, she goes through that every 9-10 months, it’s not like one calf and she magically produces milk for the rest of her life, which is what many people also believe.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. Yeah, well, people just don’t think about it. Yeah.
Jenny Brown: But for me, at 18 years old and became a vegetarian, it took me until I did undercover work in 2002 to where I saw a whole, dozens veal calves, being unloaded off the truck be sold from a local dairy operation to be sold as a livestock auction happening in that area, and to see all these little male calves that are so weak, they are only given a couple of hours with their mothers, they’ve only had their very first colostrum and then, you know, the farmers get rid of them as soon as they can unless they have a side arm operation for veal, which took me a long time to realize there’s actually more suffering in the dairy and egg industry than there are if you were to just go out and eat the meat, and honestly, that is a, so not condoning to please go out and eat the meat, I am just saying from myself, I thought as long as animals weren’t being killed, as long as I wasn’t eating animal flesh that, you know, I had no ethical dilemma with that, but when you look at the life of a dairy cow …
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so much worse.
Jenny Brown: So much worse and then she’s killed at 4-5 years of age to become hamburger meat because her body is so broken and she’s, you know, her spirit is broken from having calf after calf taken away from her, she’s, you know, these ideas of these Holstein grazing in massive pastures are literally 2% of dairy operations.
Caryn Hartglass: I am not sure how it happened, but I think more people are more aware of the situation with veal calves, and how cruel it is than any other animal operation.
Jenny Brown: And I think we have sympathy with babies, you know, we get people who before, as I am introducing them to our rescued veal calves that are now 2,500 steer, what I often have people say is their moments they feel like ah ha, I do love animals, I know about these issues, I haven’t eaten veal in 20 years when I learned where it came from …
Caryn Hartglass: But they are drinking their milk
Jenny Brown: but do you still have creamer in your coffee, do you choose to have a slice of cheese on your sandwich, every time you do that you’re directly supporting the veal industry and the suffering of a dairy cow. Emotional suffering and physical suffering and her life is beyond our worst imagination, truly.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh I can’t live without cheese! Yes, but then they’ll tell you they can’t live without cheese.
Jenny Brown: Yeah, and I just ask people to really take a look at how a dairy cow lives and look into your mirror and tell yourself that and if you’re someone who really cares about animals, walk away and see how much you can respect yourself. Something in …
Caryn Hartglass: Look them in the eye.
Jenny Brown: Truly the trivial pleasure of your palate. That it is so important to you that you’re going to pay somebody to do the dirty work, you’re going to go out, you’re going to go use your consumer dollars to pay for products that come from animal cruelty. And I think that most of us when we stop and think about it, nobody wants to think they’re contributing to animal cruelty, but no matter what, I don’t care if it’s Horizon, I don’t care if it’s one of these organic farms, lots of people don’t realize that organic has nothing, the term organic has zero to do with animal welfare …
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Jenny Brown: That it only means that these dairy cows are not being fed bovine growth hormone antibiotics and that the feed they’re eating is quote unquote “all natural”, meaning it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, but, so, you know, lots of people have this false sense of feel good because they think they’re eating more sustainable products, they get it from Whole Foods, and it was grass-fed, it still does not mean, I mean for me, philosophically, animals just aren’t here for us to enslave and exploit and to do anything we want to do with, so it’s not a question of whether they were grass-fed or not, there’s still sent to their untimely deaths for a product that we choose to consume, but that we don’t physically need.
Caryn Hartglass: Jenny, I totally agree with you. We’re going to have to take a little break, and we have so much more to talk about, so please stay with me and we’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
Jenny Brown: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, I am Caryn Hartglass, we’re back, and you are listening to It’s All About Food. And I am here today with Jenny Brown, of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and you can check out the Woodstock Sanctuary at the website WoodstockSanctuary.org. Okay, Jenny
Jenny Brown: Yes
Caryn Hartglass: I gave you a moment to take a breath because you were just spewing out all kinds of very important information and …
Jenny Brown: It’s such a broad subject, and one that so needs more attention.
Caryn Hartglass: I know, it should be front page news every day!
Jenny Brown: It should be the social justice movement of our time!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I should be, basically
Jenny Brown: It really should be because it affects the most number of beings, you know? It’s 10 billion in this country alone. Ten billion farm animals. Not even going into the trillions of sea animals, but 10 billion farm animals.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to talk about some of the responses I get from people when I talk about this subject. One of the things you’ve probably heard it before is that “Oh you care so much about animals, what about human beings?” And so, there are so many issues here, certainly eating animals in the quantity that we do today is so unhealthy, but people don’t realize that factory farms are probably where the greatest number of accidents occur in the work place for humans!
Jenny Brown: Right. Now I mean, there’s all sorts of, I mean, there’s a hundred percent turnover annually, it is listed as the most dangerous job to work in a slaughterhouse, so, you know, I mean, there’s many reasons, that when people say that to me, it just …
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a distraction; it just shows how much more they really don’t understand about what’s going on.
Jenny Brown: Absolutely, because you can prevent the suffering of these animals by not buying these products with your consumer dollars and when people say that, I mean, I think it was the great Peter Singer that just says I often feel compelled, you know, what they are doing for human causes that allows them to so carelessly support such animal cruelty.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Jenny Brown: You know, and we do lots here, we do lots in terms of helping, there’s elderly groups that come out here, there’s mental, you know, mentally disturbed youths that come out here and how therapeutic it is to work with animals, we’re doing all sorts of good stuff, but when people say that not only is that against my personal beliefs because it’s a very speciesist concept that we come first, humans should come first, but for the, you know, again, I grew up in the South and I came from a very Christian family where often when the debate happens with my family it goes back to the bible, and that they feel like they can pull from all these passages that, you know, man has dominion over animals, they were put here for us to eat and that’s that. And so they have this fundamental religious idea that help shape their morals and their ethics.
Caryn Hartglass: You can always go back to Genesis 129 …
Jenny Brown: Where it was a vegan world, that the perfect world was a vegan world, but I also, you know, the thing is that most people living in the Northeast, I meet more and more people that are agnostic or their atheist, so they’ve got this deeply engrained notion that it’s just how it’s always been that way, so, how could it be wrong, but what I ask people to consider is that, for most of civilization, for most of our existence as humans, we have owned slaves, we look back at that now and we are repulsed and we’ve moved beyond that, but only in the past hundred years have women had rights, have there been laws that protected children from abusive child labor practices, change happens, and we look back at these things as we evolve compassionately, as we evolve morally, and we look back and we are embarrassed of this history.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Jenny Brown: And so, I hope, I don’t know if we’ll see it in my lifetime, but I really, this is becoming finally an issue that’s being discussed. Sadly, more often than not, it’s because of the toll it takes on human health, and because of the environmentally toll it takes, but so much good can come from moving away from a, an animal product-based diet, because when you look at how unsustainable it is, you know the Smithsonian Institute came out with a study recently that said, worldwide we’re taking the equivalent seven football fields every, I think it was minutes, specifically to grow the grain to feed the livestock, I don’t like to use the word livestock, but to feed the chickens, the pigs, and the cows. That’s, there’s 30 pounds of grain is what it takes to produce a single pound of meat. That 30 pounds of grain could have fed 15 people, a day’s ration of foods, so when people come up with those ridiculous comments, “What are you doing for … humans should come first,” what I’m here doing and advocating for, can affect a huge number of people. It’s your …
Caryn Hartglass: It’s the best for everyone …
Jenny Brown: Selfish diet that is, you know, and I don’t mean to say it that way, really, it’s really, I really try to be an effective spokesperson for our animals.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, here’s another, here’s another question, somebody asks me this the other day, and I’ve heard this one before, “What would happen to all the animals in all the farms if everyone became a vegan today. Where would they all go?”
Jenny Brown: And that’s another incredibly asinine question, sorry, but basically …
Caryn Hartglass: I know …
Jenny Brown: They would, you know, it’s a non-issue because these animals only exist for us to eat them, they don’t realize that they’re massively bred and produced for the sole purpose for being killed. So, it’s a ridiculous and rhetorical question …
Caryn Hartglass: People are so disconnected, they really don’t know what’s going on, they don’t realize that these animals are artificially …
Jenny Brown: They don’t know why and incredibly frustrating to me, I can feel my blood pressure come up every time, but it’s truly, it’s a ridiculous question, we’ll always keep these animals, these animals will always exist in sanctuaries and in other places where they get to live out a normal life, this is my perfect outcome, where they get to live out a normal life, it’s not an issue of they would seized to exist, but would you want to exist to be confined, mutilated, denied even your most basic instincts and then be brutally murdered because someone thinks you taste good, because you are only seen as a production unit, and not a sentient being? I mean, the question if people could stop and really answer that question in their own mind, I think they would think first before they put something so absurd out there.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I liken the farm sanctuaries that are out there, saving individual animals to the stories that we heard, like Schindler’s List with the Holocaust, where even though millions of people were killed, a few people were saved, and those people are extremely grateful.
Jenny Brown: You’re on dangerous ground there though, you pose the, make that comparison to people …
Caryn Hartglass: I always do, I always do, I know they get
Jenny Brown: And it infuriates people, because again, humans matter most in most people’s mind, how dare you, you know, compare the suffering of an animal to the suffering of human, and to really say that is so small-minded, it really is. And it just go to show how far we’ve got to go and that’s internally frustrating to me, but if you were an alien species and you were to hover above our earth and you would, you know, without coming in knowing anything, and you looked at all the various species, all the, from the tiny insects to the giant elephants to the horses to people to cats, dogs, pigs, and then if you really studied and took a look at who is the most monstrous, who is the most barbaric, who’s causing the most damage to this earth, it’s us! And you know, and so, we would look like, I mean, if the devil, if animals could have a religion, and they could communicate amongst themselves, which I know that they do, but I know that the devil would be depicted in human form.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Jenny Brown: Because, to them, we are the oppressors, we are the exploiters, we are the murderers, and for everyone that isn’t out there paying somebody to slaughter the chicken or to slaughter the pig, where else in your lives do you pay someone to do the dirty work that you yourself probably couldn’t do? You know, for everyone that says “Oh, but I have to eat meat,” “Oh, my doctor says I have to and I just have to.” All these excuses that you hear. If you can’t go out, look into the eyes of the steer, wrestle it to the ground, slaughter it, and then butcher all the parts and pack them in your freezer, I just feel like where else in your life do you pay somebody to do the dirty work.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Jenny Brown: And isn’t that against your own ethics? But again, this is, it’s the day of convenience, we live in a day of “I am running late to this meeting I am just going to stop and get a sandwich and I am never in a million year going to think about who that is between those pieces of bread.”
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well, capitalism seems to be based on a big disconnect, with so many things, but I want to spend the next few minutes of our last quarter of the hour talking about some really lovely things. So, can you tell me some, some stories, like you were talking about, the pig, the most recently rescued pig, was it? Maybe? Or …
Jenny Brown: Ah, well, the most recent pig is Little Stanley who was just found running around a neighborhood in Hyde Park, New York, about a week ago, and was picked up. We don’t really know what his story is. He’s a little 13.5 pound piglet that somehow escaped his fate, but Judy and Patsy, for example, are two pigs that are three years old now, they came, there was a man who had been charged with animal cruelty, believe it or not, and had a record, but he was squatting on state land raising animals for slaughter, and these animals, some of these animals were discovered by some hikers or something, and they called the authorities, and the mother was already gone, but Judy and Patsy and four of their sibling were all rescued, and that’s how they got to us, but these are sisters who are in separable, and if you can, the unique opportunity of sanctuaries is that we, people can come here and they observe these animals, and it doesn’t become this intangible idea that animals are sentient beings, when you see, for example, Judy and Patsy are together, these two girls love each other, they spoon, they sleep belly to belly, they’ve got their little hooves on each other’s face, they spend their days roaming around together, they get in little fights, who wants to lay where, you know, these are really complex social structures that these animals have, and there’s, you know, I mean, from every chicken here, every chicken here has a name, they’ve got a rescue story, many of them again found running around neighborhood down in Brooklyn or the Bronx, or Little Elby, for example, and there was a New York Times story about Elby. He was found, he’s a goat that was found running around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, he was picked up by Animal Care and Control, and the big concern with him initially was that he had all these sores all over his mouth, and he basically had what’s known as sore mouth, and it’s highly contagious to people, to also known as ORF, so, all this attention was being paid to his mouth and they called me up, and you know I said use gloves and where iso-suits. They brought him here the next day, what I noticed immediately is that he had been hog tied with some type of wire, which means he was probably purchased from one of these live kill markets in the city, he was hog tied, so all four of his legs were bound together with some kind of tight wire, and then somehow he escapes that fate, but one of his legs, and two of his legs, there were lacerations and upon closer examination about an hour after he got here, we discovered maggots coming out of the womb of one, and the bone was so infected, the flesh and the bone were so infected that, after trying everything, we ended up having this little animal’s leg amputated, and he wears an artificial leg like myself, who had cancer at the age of ten, one of the things that I overcame as a child, and you know, there years of chemotherapy, and I wear a prosthetic limp myself, I ask my prostheticist to make a little leg for Elby.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow.
Jenny Brown: And so he has grown out like five of them, we have another appointment soon where he’s going to be fitted. Dillon, our rescue veal calf, who’s now a 1,500 pound steer; he’s a younger guy, he was chained to a tree, chained up to a tree at a farm, a dairy farm, in Troy and some people that lived in the area saw him and learned that he was on his way to the next livestock auction, where he would have become veal, and they talked the farmer into letting them have him, spare this one. And they had him for 24 hours and realize, “I don’t know what I am doing” and then they called us. So, I mean, every every animal here has a story. We have a sheep that came from one of the worst hoarding cases in the history of Pennsylvania, this woman had kind of lost her mind, there were dead, dying, diseased animals all over the place, waste everywhere …
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh.
Jenny Brown: And lambs found living down in the basement …
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh.
Jenny Brown: You know, chickens in the house and things like that, kooky people, you know, so there’s so many stories to tell here, and while you are hearing, meeting these animals, and learning their rescue stories, and hearing a little bit about their personality, and what they like to do, and some of the crazy things like we have a couple of sheep who I swear to you have taught themselves that in order to get attention, they give you the hoof, like a dog will give you the paw, and you feel that on your legs, and they’ll paw you for attention, we have sheep that will give you the hooves because they really want your attention, you know, we have chickens that once they lose their fear of people or if we rescue them when they were young, they’re so inquisitive, they’ll come right over and hop in your lap and want to be pet.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, they’re incredibly sensitive, incredibly smart.
Jenny Brown: Exactly. And people just do not realize this and so we have such a great opportunity here to, with every person that walks in our door, we have the opportunity of changing their dietary habits, and say if they become vegan, which many people do after leaving here, and they vow off animal products, that’s a 100 animal lives a year we’ve saved because that’s equivalent that someone eating meat and dairy a 100 animal lives are gone for that person’s diet. So, we can save 100 animal lives per person, every year, if we can move more towards a plant-based diet.
Caryn Hartglass: So somebody wants to come up to your sanctuary, what do they do, what would they expect?
Jenny Brown: Well, this is the end of our season right now, and so, we’re open to the public April through October, and that’s only on the weekends, from 11-4, next weekend and this coming weekend is our last weekends of the season, but volunteers can come anytime during the year, and you just basically have to send, shoot us an email from the website, WoodstockSanctuary.org, and we sign you up to help out that day, when you’re here and you’re helping to shovel some poo, there’s many opportunities to love on over 200 beautiful souls while you are here, and to interact and spend time with them, and to get to know them because they love, once these animals, they just have some amazing ability to forgive and get on with life, and they have a lot to teach us in that way, and so, volunteers get so much out of coming up here, and for those who share the philosophy and truly believe that animals are here with us, and not for us, it’s a sanctuary for people too. If you’re coming here, say you just want to know more, you’re not going to come here and, you know, nobody’s going to point a finger at you, we’re not going to proselytize, we basically take you around and you get to go in with the animals, and you meet them, and, you know, we’ve got a couple of friendly roosters and chickens that don’t mind being held. You can go meet the duck and the geese, you can give a eight or nine hundred pound pig a belly rub, you can frolic with the goats and the sheep, you know, we don’t let people in with the steer because three of them have giant horns, and you know, they can go to squat a fly on their back and disembowel somebody, so we don’t let people in with the steer, but there’s just, there’s so many critters to meet here, and you learn about how millions of others like them are living at that very moment. We’ve got battery cages from where 98% of egg-laying chickens live, we have farrowing crate where pregnant sows are forced to give birth at a cage that’s hardly bigger than their own body … and then we’ve veal crates …
Caryn Hartglass: And you can actually see how small they really are.
Jenny Brown: And it’s shocking to some people. So, for those who really want to take a look at this, even if it means they might, they know that they might walk away and change their diet, and be affected by it, we ask people to really respect themselves, care about how these other animals are treated, just simply to become, you know, ice cream and Egg McMuffins or whatever, you know? And to stop and take a look and then care, and at least, we don’t expect people to leave here and, you know, that’s it, they’ve just, they drop all animal products out of their diet. It’s a transition, it’s like finding out you are diabetic and you are gluten intolerant, or lactose intolerant, coming up with other things, but with every meal that someone sits down to that doesn’t contain animal products, that’s a step in the right direction, the UK has their Meatfree-Mondays campaign going on, and it’s huge, and the whole country is rallying because they realize, again, that it’s not sustainable, in terms of the methane that’s being put out into the environment, and turn of the, what we are doing the waterways, our drinking water, how there’s dead zones because of the nasty bacteria and the poo and the sludgy manure, you know that comes from these massive confinement operations, factory farms, and what they are doing to our waterways, they’re making us sick, we’re destroying entire ecosystems just so that we can continue to enjoy our steak and our bacon and our chicken breast …
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s pretty incredible …
Jenny Brown: in every freaking meal!
Caryn Hartglass: It’s, and there are very few regulations on factory farms, and the few that there are, the government kind of overlooks anyways.
Jenny Brown: And there’s no laws that protect these animals from cruelty, just one example, if you don’t mind just one more tiny part of my spiel?
Caryn Hartglass: Oh sure, love it.
Jenny Brown: And animal that is smarter than canines, the pig, an animal that’s right up there intelligent wise is dolphins, if you’re a two-week old piglet, a week to two weeks old, a worker is going to come along, is going to pick you up, and with a knife, is going to castrate you, if you are a boy, cut off your tail, notch your ears, to show when you were born and what vaccines you just received …
Caryn Hartglass: And of course, there’s no anesthesia with any of this …
Jenny Brown: Oh no no no no no, no pain killer, no numbing agent, nothing, and they’re going to pull out your incisor teeth, and they do this because they pack them in together so tightly, just like with every animal, they will get bitey, they will fight, those who injuries lead to profit losses because of deaths, so for an animal that is more intelligent than a dog, if your neighbor were to pick up their dog’s litter of puppies, castrate them, cut off the tail, notch their ears and rip out their teeth, there would be public outcry, but this is happening right at his very moment to hundreds of thousands of pigs today in this country, and there’re no laws that protect them, and that is morally bankrupt, and we need to look at how our society is treating these other beings that sure this earth with us, and to stop and think about how we’re not living our own values.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s pretty good, that’s a big mouthful.
Jenny Brown: Yeah, I got some mouthfuls.
[Laughter] Caryn Hartglass: Now, you’ve actually done some undercover work and so you’ve been to the farms …
Jenny Brown: I think anybody, anybody, who says, “Ah, it’s just a chicken. I don’t care.” I think everybody should go and take a walk down inside a factory farm …
Caryn Hartglass: Well, the thing is you can’t …
Jenny Brown: And watch how these animals are being slaughtered …
Caryn Hartglass: But you can’t, they’re really careful now because of the few undercover films that have come out.
Jenny Brown: You can’t get into these places …
Caryn Hartglass: They’re making it really impossible to see what’s going on, and that’s another thing that’s really crazy and how the government lets them get away with it because any other food facilities, you can get a tour of, but this is one place that you can’t.
Jenny Brown: The meat and dairy industries are right up there with oil and pharmaceuticals. They are filtering money into our politicians’ pockets on a state and federal level, and it’s a broken and corrupt system.
Caryn Hartglass: And, but there is something we can do and that is not support it.
Jenny Brown: Absolutely!
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so simple.
Jenny Brown: And to try, and look at other options for your health, for your weight, for the environment, for your children, get the wool off your eyes and realize that to some degree, we’ve all been brainwashed, and to look at the truth and to see how these animals are living and don’t allow yourself to think that you’re buying this organic this or this free-range this and that, you’re an ethical person.
Caryn Hartglass: Jenny, thank you so much, I hope that one tenth of your passion has touched all of our listeners enough to make a difference in their own lives.
Jenny Brown: Well, thank you, and again, people can check out WoodstockSanctuary.org to learn more.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to coming up and visiting.
Jenny Brown: We’d love to have you, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, thank you so much.
Jenny Brown: Thank you, thank you for having me!
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food, that was Jenny Brown from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and I am Caryn Hartglass, this has been It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Queenie Tsui, 1/29/2015