It's election season and everyone is talking about politics. We promise, this is a food blog and not a political blog, but if you're in California, here's one item that affects your food: California Proposition 2.
On November 4, California voters have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 2, which is the Standards for Confining Farm Animals initiative statute. The proposition wants to make it illegal to confine certain types of animals in such a way that they can't turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. This measure is aimed at three types of animal confinement in particular: veal crates, battery cages, and sow gestation crates. If the proposition is accepted, it would go into effect on January 1, 2015.
Supporters of Proposition 2 argue that the measure not only prevents animal cruelty, but also protects our food safety. Hens crammed in battery cages defecate on each other and spread salmonella; as a result, eggs farmed from battery cages have a higher rate of salmonella than other eggs. Also, poultry placed in such close confinement to each other can spread the avian flu much easier and faster should there be an outbreak in the US. Animals that live in clean, natural environments are happier and aren't stressed out; animals confined in cramped quarters get stressed, which compromises their immune systems and makes them more susceptible to E. coli and salmonella.
Opponents say that Proposition 2 will have negative implications on the economy and jeopardize the public's safety. They say imposing the measures will drive prices up and force Californians to buy eggs and meat from farms in other states and Mexico since cage-free eggs are more expensive than mass-produced eggs. With food prices going up and people buying food from elsewhere, the proposition would limit Californians' access to locally-produced food. Also, they argue that putting poultry outside increases their exposure to wild migratory birds that may be carrying the avian flu.
Read both sides and decide for yourself.
(Image: Yes on Prop 2)