We applaud California’s Prop 12. The proposition requires that meat sold in California must come from farms that require adequate space for its breeding pigs and egg--laying hens. It’s a step in the right direction towards a more humane and equitable food system.
However, we want to highlight that living conditions are only half the battle. Industrial agriculture has corrupted the genetics of the livestock that humans have depended on for ages. Factory animal farms started to breed for genetic deformities in the 1970s. When they came across one of nature’s mistakes — say, a chicken so top-heavy with meat that it could barely walk—they pulled it from the flock, not to kill it in an effort to protect the group from bad genes, but to ensure that its abnormal genetics became part of the next year’s harvest.
Corporate poultry cannot survive in nature. Their cardiovascular systems can hardly support their outsized bodies. Their muscles and bones are weak. Their immune system has been so compromised by genetic monkey-wrenching that they need to be fed antibiotics just to make it to the pardon.
We must preserve the genetics of heritage breed livestock. That is why Heritage Foods founder Patrick Martins — along with the one and only Frank Reese and aspiring Standardbred poultry farmer, educator, and a notable humane butchery expert Jay Greenberg — started the Good Shepherd Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding and promoting biodiversity through the use of Standardbred poultry and historical purebred lines of livestock for agricultural use. Their goal is to re-shape the poultry industry, pushing it away from the sad, industrial nature of it as it stands today.
Check out the Good Shepherd Conservancy website to learn more about its mission.